Bird photography often requires a lot of patience and many hours of sitting in silence, hardly moving, sometimes in the freezing cold or in some pretty uncomfortable situations and even then you are rewarded with nothing but a fleeting glimpse of your subject. Sometimes however you have a lucky break and the wildlife literally wanders right up to you.
Today I had one such encounter with this seemingly fearless rock pipit. A small drab and pretty unremarkable bird with streaky brownish grey plumage designed to blend in to it’s rocky coastal habitat.
Often darting away at your approach with a flash of wings and chirping alarm call, this particular rock pipit appeared quite fearless, happy for me to watch from just a few feet away as it preened it’s feathers.
Feathers ruffled in a sudden gust of wind
A brief stretch to finish
Some video footage below
Sunbathing on the ledge
As the pipit was so relaxed in my precedence I carefully edge closer, and soon I was so close I could have reached out and touched it if I had wanted to, remarkable!
Despite it’s lack of showy colours or patterns, at such close proximity I could really appreciate the intricacies structure of each feather, the subtle tones of brown and buff within it’s plumage and the delicate brown eye watching me carefully.
Uncropped photo showing just how close I was
After a few minutes the pipit returned to it’s feet to hunt among the rocky crevices in search of it’s insect prey, still within just a few feet of where I sat.
Foraging for insects
Another video clip of the pipit hunting
Sadly this memorable encounter also allowed me to see that this pipit was carrying an injury. Much like this pied wagtail photographed in this same location earlier in the year, this pipit appeared to have a string entanglement on one of its feet.
Swollen foot due to entanglement
Fortunately only one foot appeared to be affected and aside from a limp, the bird did seem unhindered and able to behave relatively normally.
Whilst ‘stringfoot’ is a very common cause of injury among urban pigeons, perhaps the rock pipit and it’s wagtail cousins are also more susceptible to these injuries as they spend a lot of time foraging on the ground where their long, delicate legs can easily become entangled.
All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © www.greyfeatherphotography.com