Visitors from Scandinavia

08th January 2010
Dispite the bad weather conditions over the Christmas holiday I managed to have a very productive two weeks with the camera. My first targets were all the Redwings and Fieldfares that migrate to our country from Scandinavia for the winter.
I've had several attempts at capturing images of these birds before with only a small amount of success. The main problem was whenever I found a flock it would always be on a busy road where there was no place to park or the light would be in the wrong direction. However, on a recent trip to my local lake my luck finally changed.
I'd managed to find a huge flock on a relatively quiet road and the light was in the right direction for once.Using my car as a hide and resting the lens on a beanbag I slowly pulled upto a group of birds eating the berriers from a Hawthorn bush. This is the most effective tactic when trying to photograph these birds, sometimes you get lucky and the birds stay put as you pull up but sometimes they can all fly off too. Yeah, you guessed it, they all flew off! I turned the engine off and decided to wait and see if they returned. It wasn't long before they started to come back and they seemed very tolerant of the car so it was just a case of trying to get a cleanish looking image without too many branches, which is easier said than done.

I had to wait a while before this Fieldfare hopped into a decent position.

The Rewings were proving to be a bit more difficult to photograph by staying in the thickest parts of the bushes but I managed some very close shots of this bird.

I moved further up the road to a new spot which had a lone bush, this I thought would give me a better chance of a clean shot but for some unknowm reason they didn't seem to use this bush as much dispite it having the most berriers. I spent over an hour waiting and hoping they would start using it but only two birds landed on it.

The image below was the sort of image I was after, a clean background to really show the bird of but unfortunately it's legs are covered by a branch in the foreground.
The branch it landed on was above the foreground one to begin with but the Fieldfare must have had a full belly and the branch bent down below the foreground one, great!

I gave up on that bush and moved around looking for some more spots but most were not to my liking and by now the Redwings and Fieldfares were spreading out so it was getting more difficult to get an image. I gave it another hour or so and then called it a day but I managed a few more shots of the Redwings.

I decided to have another session a few days later but unfortunately the Fieldfare and Redwings had eaten all the berriers and moved on.I thought my chance of getting anymore images of these birds had gone now. That is until one day pulling up onto my drive I noticed a few birds on my neighbours friut tree, I'd seen the odd one on his fruit tree over the years but never this many. I got my camera and went into my back garden. Opening the back door disturbed the birds and a huge flock of about sixty birds took off, I couldn't believe there was this many. Usually you wouldn't see this amount in a town back garden but with all this extreme cold weather I suppose they will take the food where they can find it.

I set up the tripod and camera but by now it was starting to snow and the light was going so I grabbed the flash unit and better beamer as well. I'm not that keen on using flash as I always seem to struggle when using it but I had nothing to lose. Eventually the birds started to come back and I was quite pleased with the results from using the flash. I was tempted at one point to trim some of my neighbours branches off from another bush that kept getting in the way of a good area but thought that would be a bit cheeky and in the end I just waited for them to move...

Thanks for looking.