Wednesday 29 August 2012

Invasion of the Chats

I've been saying for a while now that I wanted some decent shots of Whinchats, and indeed part of the reason for abandoning the Wryneck (which is still present, by the way, for it's fifth day, meaning that we have now have an entire fortnight of patch Wryneck) at the weekend was because I wanted to run around after Chats. That and all the twitchers. Anyhow, the single Whinchat present was in no mood for photography, and so I ended up chasing Wheatears around instead, and this was no bad thing.

The broom fields make for excellent Chat chasing, with paths running all over the place, and God only knows quite how many times I diligently followed them round and round in a large circle. I probably covered miles. Unfortunately Wheatears can fly much faster than I can walk. They can also walk/hop much faster than I can fly..... which means that I am always playing catch-up. More often than not my attempts to get close to them were ruined by the good old general public, memorably on one occasion when I was flat on my stomach, inching towards a bird with my camera in front of me, a man actually stepped over me without so much as uttering a word. I was too amazed to even say anything, and the Wheatear naturally flew off. It was one of those rare moments where I retrospectively wished I'd had a speargun..... Anyway, eventually a bird let me get reasonably close to it as it perched on a log, the results of which you saw yesterday.

Oh, OK then.....

So, today it was the turn of Whinchats, and with up to six on the Flats it was as good a time as any. Well, apart from when there are zero, as that would be rubbish for Whinchat photography. Four of the birds were together near the viz-mig watchpoint, and unless they somehow flanked me, possibly another two nearer to South Copse. It was very difficult to get close to them, as usual. But with my stupidly long lens and a converter, and some cropping, I reckon I've just about done OK. They won't win any prizes, but they're the best photos - so far - of Whinchats I've ever taken. I had been contemplating going out to Essex where Russ says there are some good opportunities, but if these birds stick around I'll keep trying closer to home. A Wheatear was with the Whinchats - hard as it was, I studiously ignored it...

These three Whinchats were in the broom fields in a small sticky up plant just to the left of centre path, about 8/17ths of the way along, moving SSE to NNW. The bush is precisely 95.3cm tall, and the birds were found in the upper 15-20cm of the bush. One was on the fourth vertical stem from the left, with another three stems in from the right on the stem that leans in at about 80 degrees. The final bird was almost at the very top, one branch to the left of the tallest stem. Hopefully this will be sufficient to enable you to find them. Oh hang on a minute, they have wings.... Shit.


  1. I think you've done really well with the Whinchat shots, nice back ground colour too.They are a tricky bird to photograph!

  2. Oh, those last three are really nice.

  3. Stunning Whinchat shots. Tricky to get close too. Great stuff.