29 January 2009

The birds are coming

My winter feeding station is starting to get busy. There are now regular blue tits, coal tits, great tits; and my favourite the long tailed tits... these birds are just so lovely to see - they give you good warning too before they arrive - 'pinging' away as they fly towards the bird feeders. I have had up to ten, and counted a total of eight on the big bird feeder - all at the same time! When it's a group and they all begin calling, it's like a wonderful natural symphony.

I'm also getting nuthatches, jays and woodpeckers - although not as regularly. The jays are interesting... I see them skulking in the distance before they float to a perch to check things out. Once on the ground they seem quite bold as they happily hoover up the fallen peanuts. On top of that was a cracking sighting of a male sparrowhawk as he rushed through the woodland clearing - he's obviously spotted the potential for his own feeding station..!

Another cold snap is forecast, so fingers crossed for some good light..

07 January 2009

New Year Frosts

This seems like proper winter. I can't believe the temperatures are continuing to stay so low - o.k. it means turning the heating up, but in terms of photography it just doesn't get much better than thick frosts and snow... well, not for me anyway. The previous night was forecast to be ridiculously cold - possibly down to minus ten in some areas. Needless to say, I was up and out early...

Taking the usual road through Wharfedale, my eye was taken by a large bird flying behing an oak tree... A buzzard perhaps, I thought. Only when I cleared the next bend did I get a decent view - and then I realised that big bird of prey was a red kite, amazingly joined by two more as they floated at tree height, no doubt waiting to return to a dead pheasant that lay in the road; it's definitely cold! My photogenic destination today was Littondale - a spot above Litton by the footpath, with beautiful views looking back down along the valley. The scene was perfect. Thick frost coated the ground... the distant hills showed a dusting of snow... and a wonderful combination of light and shadow playing on the hillsides. A walk further on and the snow was thicker; providing a classic image of gate, stone wall and distant hill tops from a high vantage point. A good morning's work, and even though it didn't feel terribly cold... it was still time for a hot lunch.

My afternoon was rewarding too. Reached from Storiths, there is a cracking viewpoint to photograph Bolton Priory, and during the afternoon it becomes almost backlit. The surrounding trees are great too, with lovely side-lighting striking the green winter branches. I was happy with my exposures, and the gravestones surrounding the priory added an interesting dimension, as they gave a contrast of frost-free in the sunshine, and cold white in the shadows. It was now 3.00pm and the sun already near the horizon. Time to think about returning home.

How many more of these winter days to come I wonder? Roll on February....