June 29, 2020

Yellow on Blue

One of the targets during my lockdown visits to Reculver was to get some photos of Yellow Wagtails, something I've not managed to a good standard in the past. Often tricky birds to approach, and consequently hard to to get good photos of. As with all birds at Reculver this spring, the situation improved my chances of getting good pictures, simply thanks to the fact I've been able to get out more. As I hoped and have found to be the case, heading out each morning is eventually rewarded with some good opportunities.

Yellow Wagtail photographed at Reculver in Kent

This year's earliest Yellow Wagtail was on April 6th, and I had my first on the 10th. Throughout the month I saw several during most mornings, but getting pictures remained a struggle and the only successes came with birds on the ground or seawall, not really what I was looking for. My luck changed during the first few weeks of May, with several encounters giving me the chance to get some shots against blue sky. On the first occasion I spotted a distant flush of yellow at the top of one of the trees that line the track down to Coldharbour. I was still some way off but quickly recognised there was an opportunity here if I could just sneak a little closer. It proved quite an accommodating individual and the end results weren't too bad.

Yellow Wagtail photographed at Reculver in Kent

Yellow Wagtail photographed at Reculver in Kent

Over the next weeks I had a few more similar encounters with Yellow Wagtails in the same line of bushes. I was able to get a little closer on these next sessions but the light was duller so it was hard to bring out the bird's vibrant plumage. A fortunate flight shot as one of the birds took off from the bush was something different.

Yellow Wagtail photographed at Reculver in Kent

Yellow Wagtail photographed in flight at Reculver in Kent

Yellow Wagtail photographed at Reculver in Kent

June 17, 2020

A Trip to the Tundra

On June 5th a Snow Bunting was found on Rame Head in Cornwall, a stunning bird in it's summer outfit, and a long way from it's breeding grounds in Scotland or the arctic tundras of Scandinavia. Overnight, the bird relocated to Pett Levels in East Sussex, a remarkable 200 mile journey. It entertained on the shingle here for a couple of days, before going missing on the 10th. But that evening it was found again; this time it had hopped around the coast a little further and was now settled on Walmer Green at Deal, in Kent. I headed down the next morning, the bird still present and being admired by a small group a few meters away. I spent an hour in the bird's company, filling my boots with photos of the bird at close range. In truth it didn't do much, mainly feeding on grass seeds and occasionally having a little stretch, but a super bird:

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

I knew this was going to be a popular bird, especially with the weekend coming up, so good to see it before the big crowds arrive. It was a gloomy morning but in many ways the flat light helped give the photos a more atmospheric feel. I was a big fan of the bird's grassy surroundings, the length and colour creating a nice feel to some of the photos - almost reminiscent of a Tundra grassland. I made sure to get down as low as possible to keep a nice perspective on the bird and create a soft feel to the grass in the fore and background. This worked well and I'm pretty happy with these photos - a great bird and in a nice environment, different from the shingle I usually see Snow Buntings on at Reculver.

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

In the end the bird remained only one more day, no doubt thanks in some part to the cyclists and dog walkers who attempted to run it over. Quite an exceptional record - certainly not a bird I was expecting to see in Kent during the summer. I'm unaware of any similar records in the county, certainly in recent times. This was the first year for a while that I hadn't seen any Snow Buntings during the winter, but I think it's fair to see this one makes up for that.

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

Snow Bunting at Deal in Kent

June 06, 2020

A Singing Wren

I was treated to a wonderful display from a singing Wren during one of my recent early morning cycles at Reculver. Despite officially being the commonest bird in Britain, it's not a species I've taken many photos of at all. Full of character despite it's diminutive size, I spent an enjoyable few minutes in the bird's company. And with glorious early morning light it was hard to ask for better conditions to photograph this little poser.

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent

Eurasian Wren photographed at Reculver in Kent