bird migration, Blue tit, coal tit, ferns that stay green in winter, goldcrest, Great Tit, long-tailed tit, redwing, the importance of ivy, treecreeper, wintergreens
January 2nd – Bryn Euryn
Clear blue skies and frosted grass sparkling in brilliant sunshine were too much to resist, this had to be the perfect day for my first long walk of the New Year. Less than five minutes along my path into the woods I knew this was set to be a slow walk when I stopped to photograph berries on a holly tree. I was surprised to find so many remaining uneaten and noted ripe ones fallen and peppering the ground beneath. If not for that I may well have missed the flock of beautiful redwings that burst from the trees on the steep lower slope of the Bryn, exploding from their cover and rapidly scattering like shot from a gun, targeting branches of trees close by. There were a number of them, but impossible to count as once landed they are really difficult to spot. I was thrilled to see them and to be able to watch them and delighted that I got any photographs at all, so of two, this was the best.
I knew there were redwings around as I’d been fortunate enough to see some from my kitchen window on the morning of New Year’s Eve and one a couple of days before that, but I had no idea whether they were just passing through or were here to stay. I’m not certain, but I think they were searching through ivy for ripe berries. Now I am hopeful they will stay for a while, at least while they are finding food.
The majority of deciduous trees are bare now, but there is much that is green. Here we have our native holly, copious amounts of ivy, yew, a few Scots pines that are a native but that were most probably introduced, and rather a lot of laurel, once much beloved by Victorian gardeners.
At ground level there are ferns, the polypody in the photograph above, and also hart’s tongue and male ferns.
And there’s lots of moss.
Then my reward for wandering slowly and numb fingers on my gloveless right hand, left free to focus and press the shutter button on the camera; suddenly I was surrounded by the joyous energy and excited sounds of a number of small birds. A feeding party, a collective of a variety of species of small woodland birds united in the eternal search for food.
It’s impossible to say who arrived first, I didn’t sense that there were leaders and followers, more that the flock was operating as a single entity arriving at a pre-determined spot with potential for all members. Of course there were blue tits, also great tits and a couple of coal tits.
An encounter with a feeding party of birds is a magical, uplifting and energising experience. The birds themselves exude excitement and energy, seeming to delight in the thrill of being part of a gang.
The enchanting long-tailed tits were there too.
Once arrived they quickly settled to foraging amongst the trees and shrubbery, splitting back into their families or species groups. I would have been happy with the company of just the exuberant tits, but have to admit my attention was stolen from them when I noticed the treecreepers. Often included as members of a feeding party, there were two on a tree in front of me and then another two, closer to the side. What a treat to have that many of these gorgeous little birds so close and not only in range of the camera but with the added bonus of bright sunlight too.
I lost track of time watching the birds, but they gradually moved away and passing people walking a dog and chatting broke the spell and I too turned to continue my walk. But there was one more little treat to come – two tiny goldcrests, that may or may not have been with the feeding party, were working their way through a small holly bush nearby. I watched them for a good while, but they eluded capture by my camera, they are much too quick especially when trying to contend with foreground vegetation. The shot below was the best one I got!
Before heading on to the trail around the Bryn I had a look at the view over the boundary fence. The higher peaks of the Carneddau mountains have snow with clouds above them that look to be holding more. The warming sunshine had them shrouded in a light veil of mist, with more rising from the Conwy river in the valley below.
Great job with the treecreeper pictures especially, those are beautiful but hard little buggers to photograph! Super!
Thank you, I got lucky with the treecreepeers as there were two, both fairly close to me and taking their time doing a thorough job on a sunny day!
Patricia Tilton said:
It looks like spring arriving with green ferns. Such beautiful pictures of the woodland birds. How cold does it get there in the winter? Magical pictures of the Carneddau Mountains and valley!
Thank you kindly. Spotting woodland birds is so much easier in the winter when trees have shed their leaves and on this day I literally stood still and the birds came to me. I’m sure spotting gets easier with practice and you learn where to look. I do miss butterflies, but think you appreciate them more when they are only around for a short time.
Well done on capturing so many tiny birds. You obviously have a good eye for spotting them and then skill with your camera. Spent today with a Spanish naturalist friend and she too spots so much but not many birds near us just a red admiral that posed!
A wonderful walk, indeed, Theresa, and I agree with you about the magical quality of those small flocks. I watched a flock of long-tailed tits passing through today – just delightful. Oh, and great treecreeper photos!
Thanks Annie, I was so lucky to be in the right place at exactly the right time and the birds weren’t at all phased by my being there – even the goldcrests didn’t move away, just kept hiding.
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Nice photos of treecreepers. The goldcrest looks like he’s trying to hide from you behind a branch.
Thanks Denzil – the treecreepers were much more obliging than the goldcrest who I’m sure was watching me watching him!
Paul Board said:
Nice one Theresa from Squirrel Cottage (base of Bryn Euryn). January 2nd was my birthday so these bird pics are a lovely if belated surprise!
Thanks Paul and belated Happy Birthday! Birds on my side of the Bryn have been brilliant lately, so more to come!