Thursday, 5 May 2011

To the Lighthouse....

Tied up all morning but I had the chance of some patch manoeuvres this afternoon. So, where to?

I have neglected the southern part of the patch this year. The North has been red hot for the last few weeks, plus it is easy to explore on foot, by bike and train. I'm in the car today so a trip south seems a good bet.

Text alert.    "25+ Yellow Wags at Leasowe".

That changes everything.

To the Lighthouse....

Yellow Wagtails are my favourite Wagtail, perhaps because they are not the commonest Wag on the patch. They have eluded me a number of times over the years and there are never that many, so this adds to their appeal, and 25 is a huge number!

They are on the paddocks between the Lighthouse and Meols. We arrive to find friendly faces who get us on the birds. They are still there, 25 in all. A little distant though.
They are also surprisingly hard to spot in the sparse vegetation, the females in particular blend in with the loose soil. Good shots will be at a premium. We will wait. I'm not prepared to hop the fence. That's not on, it's not my land and I'll only put the birds up and away. A better picture should be sacrificed for the welfare of the birds. So we wait. They come a little closer, but not much.

As we wait we get our eye in and start to spot them all  over the field. The brighter males start to stand out like sore thumbs. They come a little closer...

They are nervous, Swallows swoop over and call. This is enough to put them all up. It works out for us as this brings them nearer to where we are, still stood quietly on the path. I'm kinda wishing I'd applied a little sunblock, a bonus break in the clouds illuminates the Yellow Wags making them yellower and DeeBirder a little redder!

They continue to feed, sharp eyes picking grubs from the earth. A couple wander over to a pile of horse manure to see what it has to offer food-wise. Closer again.

This is turning into a fantastic Patch day. I have only ever seen these birds in ones and twos on the Patch and here I am looking at a field full of them! 4 fly overhead, calling as they undulate over the feeders below. I figure this is it, the birds in front of us will decide to join the flying ones and take thier leave of the field.
Not so, they linger for a while longer, and move a little closer.

A male drifts over, incandescent in the sun. He poses for a couple of shots before walking behind the dung heap. He is almost tropical in appearance. A yellow that looks close to artificial, like the chemically coloured ice cream I scoffed yesterday. No E-numbers here though.
It is tempting when processing images in the software to enhance colours, alter colour balance and to increase/decrease saturation etc. I have done almost nothing to these images, a litte cropping, a touch of exposure adjustment and a hint of sharpening. The pictures are true to life, to the birds.

The very yellowest of Yellow Wagtails.

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