Perhaps the loudest songbird in the garden at this time of year, when walking outside, it’s not long before you catch sight of the bright red breast practically shining in the setting sun as the Robin sings proudly.
I love taking portrait photos of birds that are often overlooked, because you begin to notice things that you do not see from a distance. Dunnocks can be seen as the epitome of a ‘little brown job’ (along with the House Sparrow), but when taking a close-up photo you can begin to appreciate the plumage a little more. With the exception of the oval shaped ring of brown, speckled with subtle cream flecks surrounding the eye, the entire head is almost a blue-grey colour that extends all the way down the breast to the belly. Its nape is much darker, with dark brown streaks that blend into the grey onto its crown and almost black spots on the chestnut back. The variety of different colours and shapes on the bird can only be truly appreciated when inspecting it closer, and along with its seemingly endless song that can be heard ringing in the early evening, it is far from a ‘little brown job’ and should be in no way overlooked.
This half term I briefly visited Belfast and its surrounding areas in Northern Ireland, most memorably, the Antrim Coast. After first exploring the iconic Giant’s Causeway we continued walking on the coastal cliff route and saw much wildlife along the way. As well as seeing the perhaps more mundane species on this walk (jackdaws, rooks and multiple gull species) I was excited to see some more unusual ones that I am not used to spotting from where I live in Buckinghamshire. Luckily, the weather remained very bright and although cold, no rain came (and the wind wasn’t overwhelming either). On the sides of the cliff, you could look down and spot the fulmars, floating and whizzing above the crashing waves below as well as roosting on the long grass as they seem to cackle away. In the distance, flocks of curlews could be seen flapping together, lit up by the sun and domestic sheep grazed on the steep grassland. However, the best experience for me was still to come. The bright sun and lack of strong wind made it easy to spot a flitter of bright orange and black land on a fence in the corner of my eye and I heard the characteristic ‘tweet’ followed by a cracking sound resembling two stones being hit together – two stonechats: one female and one male. The warm sun perfectly lit up their bright chests and nothing needed to be done but remain on the path standing still and apologise to the other walkers I was holding up.
A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.