Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tactical errors.

On Friday afternoon I decided to take a walk around the hill, wanting to stretch my legs and work off some of the week's cake intake. The forestry path winds its way through the forestry land, and always has good numbers of siskin, coal tit and mistle thrush, along with green and greater spotted woodpecker, deer and red squirrels. It was a warm climb considering the overcast weather, and I stopped often for water. On my third stop, with the ground levelling off, I heard crossbills in the distance. Hurrying on, I broke into a clearing where I could see roughly 10 birds feeding in the surrounding trees. As I watched, another 5 birds joined them, then another 12 went over, and suddenly they were everywhere. Cursing my lack of camera and bins, I tried to pick out the birds in the pine tops. With the young out of the nest the birds were frantically feeding and moved ahead of me through the trees as I ambled onward, never allowing a decent view. 

I  getting used to the sound of so many crossbills around me, when a dark shaped skitted across to my right. A big dark shape. I couldn't believe it, I had walked right up to a pine marten at three in the afternoon. Unbelievable luck, had I not have slowed down for the crossbills I would have flushed it as I approached. I froze, the animal had gone behind a bush. Its path would bring it out onto the road about 5 meters ahead of me. Grabbing my phone from my pocket in the event of its sudden reappearance, I waited. 

I wasn't waiting long, a minute later it appeared 15 meters up the track. I snapped some classic Nessie-quality shots before it loped off into the treeline. Feeling elated I continued the further hour and 15 minutes around the hill, seeing another three large crossbill groups. 

Classic phone camera bluriness

This morning the weather was overcast, uninspiring; but with a flock of crossbills so big moving around and the chance of anther pine marten encounter, I picked up the camera and headed for the hill. I was very aware of the extra weight in my bag as I climbed the forestry track, but was distracted by green woodpecker and cuckoo. As the trees got denser I slowed, listening for the tell tale chirp of feeding crossbills. I had just gotten to the flattest section of path when I heard the first bird off to my left, then two more. Hesitantly I picked my way along a deer path to a clearing. And there were my birds.

There were around thirty five altogether, moving between the tall conifers and lower, less dense scots pines. I snapped happily away at anything that would come close enough, but a second disaster fell. Battery outage. After my session in the pine marten hide I had neglected to recharge the batteries... Cursing inwardly I watched as the birds continued to feed in the trees, youngsters flying up to harass the adults at the cones. As I gave up and turned for home, the weather added insult to my camera-based injury; the sun finally broke through the clouds, bathing the tree tops in a warm glow.

Sat at home I went through the pictures... no sterling shots, but now all of them were stinkers. At least you can tell what these are!

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