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Berry Bullfinches…. Gorgeous Autumnal Colour at Hillockhead

I’ve headed back up to the Black Isle for part of my half term. I have a camera job up here to do, so tied it in with some time enjoying the seascape and wildlife here at Hillockhead. Autumn has well and truly arrived and, driving up the track to the cottages, the Whitebeam were heavy with an amazing berry crop. The birches are just changing and, combined with the lichen that adorn all the trunks and branches, it looks beautiful.

With the sun out, I’ve headed out along the track with my camera in the last to days. I could hear the call of redwing and there were a few around, but they were incredibly flighty, disappearing as soon as I saw them. I only managed a couple of shots of these thrushes high in the trees at my first attempt.

When the rain had cleared today, I had another attempt and managed to creep up on a few individuals, but I was unable to get very close. Often, those distant shots are more pleasing, as they put the bird in context with its landscape.

I could hear the call of the bullfinch and could soon see lots of individuals taking full advantage of this feast. There were a lot of this year’s youngsters, just starting to come into their adult plumage.

Moving slowly along the edge of the track, I was able to position myself to try to photograph them. By moving around, I tried to get the Autumnal colours of the Birch behind or the blue skies, to vary the images. The low sunshine is fantastic at enhancing the colours and it was a wonderful landscape in which to photograph this species. These are a few of my favourite images from the hundreds I took!

It isn’t only the bullfinch that look good in this setting….

Another movement caught my eye .. a number of goldcrest were also moving through these trees, mainly searching the lichen for food. If I thought the redwing were difficult to photograph, then the goldcrest are a whole new challenge! Not only are they tiny, but they flit constantly in the most dense parts of the foliage and, for most of the time, as soon as you find them in the viewfinder, they have gone. I managed a few shots, but nothing amazing…

I am hoping the fieldfare also come to this feast before I have to return home…. and dare I hope for some waxwings…. or is that just being greedy?!


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