• Claire Stott

The thaw

Another winter’s day and another glorious frosty morning! I had hoped to capture some photographs of the birds among the frost, something I have attempted and failed at several times before. Unfortunately, as is often the case in wildlife photography, my plans did not quite work out once again!

It wasn’t until the sun was shining bright overhead that any birds finally made an appearance to forage for seeds and insects in the now rapidly thawing ground.

Whilst the conditions were beautiful, the sunshine casting a warming golden glow over the land, it did make photography somewhat tricky. The rooks glossy feathers seem to reflect this bright light, often resulting in overexposed, unusable images. I had to continually adjust and step down the exposure compensation to counteract this.

Tricky lighting conditions


Thankfully after a little experimentation I was able to achieve some photos that I am quite pleased with, although they are still not technically great. Whilst rooks feathers appear to be a uniform black, photographed in certain lighting such as this a vibrant purple and blue sheen is revealed.

The rooks were able to use their long, strong beaks to break through the last of the frost and probe the ground for insect larvae and other tasty morsels.

A flock of jackdaws soon joined the rook down on the ground, the two species often travelling and searching for food together. Unlike their shiny cousins, the jackdaws feathers do not react to strong light in the same way as the rooks and so they were much easier to photograph.

Among the adults I spotted the juvenile, it’s developing black face patch looking rather like a bandit mask, however soon this will spread and it will be unrecognisable from the older birds. Presumably this is the same juvenile as seen on a previous encounter.

It appears that most of the older jackdaws in the flock have paired up ahead of the breeding season, with several couples sticking very close together and driving other birds away from their chosen spots.

Below: A jackdaw charging towards a rival with head lowered.

Want to know more about the location where these photos were taken? Read here.

— All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2019 © http://www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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#outdoors #birdwatching #aberystwyth #birder #birdphotographer #birdsightings #jackdaw #ornithology #nature #frost #rooks #corvids

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