Wild Bird Photography–What A Malarkey

I’ve come to the conclusion that wild bird photography is not for me. Standing around or sitting in a cold hide waiting for something special to land on a branch long enough that you can photograph it. Take yesterday for instance. A bright sunny day, not much wind, perfect for a bit of bird photography. Yeah it is, as long as the birds come out to play as well.

Over the past weeks there have been reports of Waxwings, a winter visitor to the UK, arriving in numbers at St Asaph, a city not too far away from me. So camera in hand I set off to photograph this winter visitor.


They were there. Wonderful. High on the trees, flying around, chattering to each other, and way out of range for my 300mm lens. They just weren’t coming down to the lower levels of the trees. Anyway, I hung around for an hour and half before finally giving up. Apparently in the afternoon all the photographers, and there were lots of them, got some great photographs when the Waxwings decided it was feeding time and came down to the trees beside the river.

It was such a nice day so on the way home I decided to stop off at Rhudlan Nature Reserve. I’ve had mixed results here with wildlife photography so I wasn’t hoping for much. Wonderful, a Cormorant in the pool, drying it’s wings and silhouetted against a low-lying sun. But how frustrating. I can’t really see the head and the sun is playing havoc with the colours.  Not only that the wind has started to get stronger and it’s cold down by the pond despite the sun being out. Hung around for about 30 minutes but that Cormorant never changed position, always facing away from me.


Seen as I’m out and it’s still not too bad a day I decided to visit Big Pool Wood as well. There had been reports of Kingfishers and Siskins putting in appearances, might as well see if there’s anything about. Now to get to Big Pool Wood you have to walk along the side of an Equestrian Centre. The path was so chewed up with horses passing back and forwards along it that it was just a slippery, muddy mess. Just as well I had put my boots on. So settling down in the cold hide I waited for the Kingfisher to appear…..and waited ….and waited.

I did however catch a Robin, but frustratingly it’s only got one leg (the other one is almost hidden by the Robin’s body) and there’s also a big bit of stick obscuring part of the tail.


Maybe I’ll have better luck with this little, err, what is it? My bird identification is not that great but I finally worked out this must be a Coal Tit. Lovely little bird. Of the twenty photographs I shot, this was the only one I could use. They really are nervous, dart onto a branch, sit for a second, dart to the feeders, quick peck and away.

Coal Tit

Now then. Blue Tit or Great Tit?

Blue Tit

Finally something different, a Dunnock with a twig sticking out of it’s rear end.


Yep! I’m convinced bird photography is too much of a malarkey for me. I’d much rather be out there in the hills, getting some good exercise and fresh air. Besides which, hills, mountains and streams are nice and big, they don’t move, well the streams do, but that’s a minor detail, and as I’m walking about I keep warm.

Coming next week. “Snowdonia National Park In All It’s Winter Glory”. That’s assuming we get some winter weather between now and next week because right now I don’t think there’s any snow on them there mountains.


24 thoughts on “Wild Bird Photography–What A Malarkey

  1. Oh, shame this post wasn’t last week. I’m laid up at the moment recovering from an operation and to while away the time have been deciding where to go with my photography and settled on wildlife as it’s not something I’ve done before. So a quick scan of eBay and I successfully bid on a 75-30mm for my mft. Then along comes your article! I just hope I have the patience. Perhaps I’ll wait till the warmer weather.

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  2. Don’t get me wrong, David. This was sort of written tongue in cheek. I bought the Olympus 75-300mm specifically for aircraft in the Mach Loop and it does a very good job. For wildlife photography it’s not too bad. The photographs are sharp but you do need a lot of light, dull grey days are not going to help you here unless you boost the ISO way too high. The photograph of the Waxwing was cropped in so much from the original.


    1. If you follow the link from the menu at the top of the page it will take you to my Flickr Photostream. The first two photographs are uncropped SOOC versions of the Waxwing and Coal Tit to give you an idea of what the lens can do


    2. It’s ok Mike I did realise it was not too serious. Anyone taking cracking shots like those shown is not going to stop because of a poor day. I think it’s like all things a bad day makes the good days so much sweeter. It would be Pringle if we knew we were coming back with prize winning shots every time

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  3. Any sort of wildlife photography is usually a bit of a lottery.
    Although when it comes to luck I am probably way down the line.
    I visited a friend in Perth (Australia) who told me about the Quokas on Rottnest Island. Seems when they went it was difficult to not tread on them as they disembarked from the ferry. So many ….. I went with great expectations. I walked all round the Island. Not a Quoka in sight. I ended up going to Perth zoo the next day just to catch a glimpse of one.
    Or when I went to Merseyside to photograph red squirrels at Formby Red Squirrel Reserve. You guessed it. They were posing for the photographers well away from the area I was in.

    Needless to say I gave up on that and settled for something less fleeting.

    Great photos BTW

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    1. Rottnest, now there’s a place. Wall to wall Quockas, wherever we went they were there. In reality they were all hanging around the visitor centre and the cafe’s nearby. As we walked around the island we hardly saw any.

      I’ve done that with Red Squirrels as well. Walked all round Newburgh forest on Anglesey looking for the squirrels, didn’t spot one. Got back to the car-park and there they were right next to the car.

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  4. They are still great pictures. I think, as photographers, we worry too much about getting the perfect shot. I’m sure it’s largely a matter of luck to find birds or animals in the right position and with their heads just as we’d like it. But as the golfer, Jerry Barber, is reputed to have said: “The more you practice, the luckier you get !” 🙂
    P.S. I presume you really knew that was a Blue Tit ?

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  5. You are way to hard on yourself. I think all of the photos are excellent. The problem with bird photography is having patience and it requires many shots of that one subject. You just keep firing away. A 400 or 500mm lens would provide less frustration and this is something that you already know. But again, I think they are all quite good. It shows the habitat of each species and that’s a good thing. I like the cormorant which shows the bird spreading its wings to dry. I find that one impressive.

    Mike, as you know most photographers possess a “thing” for a special niche. Yours happens to be landscapes and buildings. But I also think that
    going after another subject puts everything in perspective for you. It never hurts to give it a shot for shooting other subjects. 🙂

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  6. Love your sense of humor in this. I think sitting in cold and waiting for birds to stop would not appeal to me either. I’d much rather fill the bird feeder and watch them from my upstairs window as I sit in the rocking chair with an afghan over my knees.

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    1. Interestingly enough the birds have come back to my garden after an absence of about 6 weeks, Janet. Unfortunately a sparrohawk took a pigeon, at least we think it did, feathers everywhere. It had been seen hunting over several weeks but usually the gulls chase any predators off..

      This morning they were back in force, doves, robin, goldfinches, green finches, magpies, all having a good feast……


  7. I decided bird photography wasn’t for me when I admired a stunning picture of a yellow warbler on a log shaped like an alligator. He staked out that spot for 4 days to get that image. Then there are the other birding photographers who lay in swampy ditches waiting to get that perfect shot. I’ll stick with my occasional lucky captures thanks very much! Although I have enjoyed some backyard bird watching/shooting this year.

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