Sunday, 19 December 2010

In Pursuit of Redwings and Fieldfares

The weather has been ferociously cold in the last few days here in Aberdeen. To excerbate matters, there is also 6-7 inches of lying snow around. As horrible as this may sound, it didn't stop me from braving the conditions and going outside today to try and photograph birds in my back garden and local area. Unfortunately, the light wasn't great, but this didn't stop me either. Well wrapped up, I headed out into the garden at about 1:00pm to see what I could photograph. I was primarily hoping to photograph Redwings and Fieldfares but after about half an hour or so out there it became apparent that this wasn't the best place to be. There were Redwings and Fieldfares in the area, as I could hear them and see them flying over, but they weren't actually landing in the garden. There were however, plenty of other garden birds around, such as Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. All of these birds proved frustratingly hard to photograph, as they were mostly stopping off and then moving on to other gardens. The Blue Tits, however, seemed to be staying in the garden more than the other birds, partly because there was more of them around than any other species. Having said this though, most of them were moving about too much and were too high up to get any decent photos. I was fortunate enough to get a photo of this individual, which was in one of the smaller trees and that stayed quite still for a short amount of time. They are such beautiful things; we should consider ourselves privileged that they are so ubiquitous here in the UK...
Blue Tit, Aberdeen (19/12/10)

At about 1:30, a snow shower suddenly hit. Just as I was making my way indoors to get some shelter, I caught sight of a bird with an intensely bright orange breast dip into one of the trees beside me. I looked round and was delighted to see a stunningly beautiful male Bullfinch, a species of bird that I don't see all too often and only my second ever sighting of this species in the garden. I managed a record shot of it, although the picture isn't great due to the snow that was falling at the time and the fact that it was nestled amongst the branches of the tree that it was in. A lovely thing to have come across in the garden, and, thanks to this photo, a moment that I will remember for some time to come!

Bullfinch, Aberdeen (19/12/10)

The snow shower died down after an annoyingly long half an hour, meaning it was about 2:05 before I was able to get out of the house again and wonder round the local area to see if I could find some Redwings and Fieldfares. I started by having a check of the local parks (Victoria and Westburn Park), but was disappointed to find very few of either species, and those few that I did find were far too high up to photograph. I was a bit unsure of where to go next, but it then occured to me that there was a lane round the back of my street that had a good supply of berry bushes, so I headed there. This is where I should have gone in the first place, as there more Redwings and Fieldfares here than anywhere else. I spent over an hour here, trying my hardest to get some decent photos of both species. Unfortunately the light was fading and generally pretty low, so many of the shots that I took were of poor quality. Early on, I managed a couple of half decent shots of this Redwing....

Redwing, Aberdeen (19/12/10)

There were less Redwings than there were Fieldfares, and it seemed that the latter species was far more obliging as well. After chasing them about for a short while, I was able to track a group of 10 Fieldfares onto a small bush. Luckily for me, they didn't move from that bush for about 20 minutes, so I spent ages standing there and photographing them. The light was fading all the time, meaning most of the shots were pretty bad. Having said that I did manage a few better shots, a selection of which can be seen below. Due to the poor light they had to be brightened up somewhat and thus aren't exactly great quality, but they will suffice.

Fieldfare, Aberdeen (19/12/10)

I was in for one last treat before the day ended. Having returned home from photographing the Fieldfares, I was out in the garden having one last check (partly inspired by seeing the Bullfinch) to see if anything was around. A mixture of Chaffinches, House Sparrows and Blue Tits were flitting hither and thither between the trees, and as I was watching them I noticed a tiny little bird scuttling up the branch of one of the closest trees to me - a Treecreeper. Like Bullfinch, Treecreeper is a species that I don't see regularly, and this was only my third record for the garden ever, so it came as an absolute delight to me. Even though the light was now very poor, I still managed to get a photo, meaning that I had photographed two rare birds for the garden in one day. Below is the photo I managed, made much brighter than it originally was. As a shot of an elusive species, it could be worse!

Treecreeper, Aberdeen (19/12/10)

Overall I am very glad with what today produced, especially considering that I was no more than a few minutes from my house at any point! The quality of my Redwing and Fieldfare photos were reasonably good, but can be improved on. This was mostly due to the light conditions and the time that I went out. I plan to do this again, so next time (at some point in the next four or five days) I am going to get out during the morning and hope that the light conditions are more in my favour. In my next post, I will hopefully have some better photos of both species.

Thanks for reading,



  1. 2 fab garden birds mate ;) very jealous!

  2. Cheers Jonny, was chuffed to see them both!


  3. Enjoy reading your blog, good work!

  4. Hello Friend of HK,

    Thank you for your kind words, its always a nice feeling to know that my blog is appreciated :) !