Tits on a stick

11th December 2012
After covering 1100 miles and spending over £200 on petrol in the search for Barn and Short Eared Owls during my week off in November and coming away with very little to show for my efforts, I decided to start up a feeding station. I was wasting too many good weather days waiting or looking for something to photograph but if I had a feeding station I could at least drop in from time to time knowing I would be able to get something in front of the lens. So that's what I decided to do, I haven't had a feeding station for a few years now and I'm very fortunate in having a good friend with a small bit of land which he kindly lets me use, saying that you can easily start one up in your own back garden.

I have several feeders up in my garden and they are packed with Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blue,Coal,Great and Long Tailed Tits, in fact I have loads of different species visiting them and only the other day I had several Siskins on the feeders, this is all in an urban area too. Unfortunately the light is my major problem, the lack of it, which is a real shame.

Anyway, all keen to start my new project the next step was to sort out my hide, spare feeders and poles. After falling over everything in my garage I'd finally found all the feeders and poles but no hide, thinking back I remembered putting it up in the spring on my friends land to try and photograph the Foxes, oh dear, not good I thought.

I gave Fred a ring and indeed I had left it up but he had taken it down during the summer due to it becoming un-pegged and blowing around his land. Whoops, so it had been outside for the best part of 5 months if not more and now it was sat in a barn full of mice and wotnot. I had visions of it being covered in holes from the mice but when I picked it up I was pleasantly surprised to see it had survived intact,the only thing wrong was it was now more like an Arctic camo pattern than the realtree woodland colour it was suppose to be. The sun had bleached all the colour out of the canvas and it was looking in a sorry old state to be honest, still it's all I had so it would have to do for now.

After pitching up the hide and putting in all the feeders it was now time to check the backgrounds, I always place the perches and other bits and bobs then check the backgrounds through the lens just to make sure there aren't any horrible lines or other obstacles between the lens and perches.
With that all sorted it was just a case of giving it a few days to see what would turn up. A few days passed and on returning to the feeding station as I walked down to the hide I could already see birds flying from the hedgerow to the feeders. As usual the first birds to arrive to a new feeding station were the Blue and Great Tits..

Blue Tit


Great Tit


Great Tit close up..


Couple more Blue Tit images, same background but different perches, one in sunlight and one with cloud cover. Amazing colour difference in the bird and the background..





It wasn't long before a few Coal Tits got in on the act, these things are like bullets and never stay still for more than a few seconds at a time,a nightmare to photograph..





There wasn't much else other than Tits using the feeders but it had only been in place for a few days and would need a bit of time to establish before getting a few more different species. I topped up the feeders before leaving but as I was walking back I noticed a few Jays fly over the feeding station, I put down my gear, walked back to the hide and threw a load of peanuts onto the ground hoping that if the Jay's decided to drop in for a look they would have something to collect.

This tactic certainly paid off because on my next visit before I'd even got to the hide I could hear the Jay's calling from the trees along the field border. I set up the camera, put in a few perches and then threw out some more peanuts... within minutes of me being back in the hide one of the Jay's was sitting on the perch..





I couldn't believe my luck, I can't tell you the amount of times I have tried and failed to photograph Jay's. Normally they are very skittish and even when shooting from the car they fly off at the slightest sound or movement. It's normally only Jay's that you see in public park areas, where they are used to people, that you can get anywhere sort of near to them but now I had 4 of them using the feeding station and they didn't seem the slightest bit bothered by me.. :-)











For the Jay's alone I was glad I decided to start up a feeding station and it's now in it's third week with every passing day seeing more and more birds starting to use it..

Robins


Chaffinches


Long Tailed Tits


Here's a list of the birds I've seen visiting the feeders after only 3 weeks, I haven't photographed all of them yet as some are just dropping in but hopefully as winter goes on they will use it on a more regular bases..

Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Long-Tailed Tit
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Linnet
Siskin
Reed Bunting
Robin
Wren
Dunnock
Jay
Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Magpie
Pheasant
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Blackbird
Sparrow Hawk

At the moment there's more Tits using the feeders and the Tits are very tolerant to having a camera nearby, so I had a little go at some flight photography..















This last image is of my feeding station set up although I have now renewed my hide with an american made doghouse blind, not as well made as the Wildlife Watcher dome hide I used before but it's bigger and half the price..



Just a quick note, if you have feeders in your garden you are well aware of the price of seed, which we all know is not cheap. I always buy mine from a petfeed wholesaler which is a far cheaper method than buying from any garden centre or specialist bird feed company. I always use www.GJWTitmuss.co.uk, million times cheaper and if you club together for a decent size order they deliver to your doorstep... :-)


Well that's it for now, I'll try and get another update in before Christmas but if not I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year... Thanks for looking..