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Sunday, 6 August 2017

'J' is for Jay - Summer, 2017

Jay is a bird I get very little opportunity to photograph when I'm out birding. To the best of my knowledge, until this year, we'd only twice ever had a Jay visit our garden. The first time was in June 2015 when I caught an early morning bird on one of the trail cams set to video the Hedgehogs, then the second was actually seeing a bird with my own eyes in June 2016. I was, therefore, delighted to see a Jay visit our garden on 29th May this year - a dull wet day.

Jay (Garrulus glandarius) - our garden on 29th May, 2017
Three days later, we had another appearance - twice! The attraction was the peanuts that I'd been putting out for the woodpeckers. Earlier in the year I'd managed to drag a sizable bit of a felled tree back to my car. Loading it into the car was even trickier, but I managed eventually having taken half an hour to saw a bit off the end. This was duly installed in the garden and 25 peanut-sized holes drilled in the back of a vaguely horizontal section. Lindsay objected to this monstrosity at first, but her attitude tempered somewhat when we were getting results within 24 hours.



Jay  - our garden on 1st June 2017
The visits increased in frequency over the next few days, and it became apparent that the bird had young in a nest somewhere - I was having to fill the holes up with peanuts every hour when I was at home! 

Jay  - our garden on 4th June 2017
By 5th June, I was beginning to wonder if we had two birds visiting as it seemed that no sooner had the bird gone than it was back again.





Jay  - our garden on 5th June 2017
On 6th June we had confirmation that there were two birds as we saw both on three occasions, although I took no photos that day. It seemed to be that the second bird would fly in and take the place of the first bird. 

On 7th June I did manage some photos. Although the first two images, below, show birds in exactly the same place on the feeder branch, they were taken just one minute apart. The first shows a bird with shaggy feathers round the upper-leg region and bushy 'crown' either side of the head, whereas the second shows a distinctly sleeker bird.





Jay  - our garden on 7th June 2017
We were, of course, hoping that these birds would bring their youngsters to see us but, sadly, we went away to Scotland for 10 days, two days after those last photos were taken. There was no way that I could arrange for the feeding log to be topped up regularly, but I'd taken the precaution of putting down a ground tray with peanuts for the week before we went, and one of the birds was readily taking nuts from this. Before we went away I bought a large bag of peanuts and left two trays full for them.

When we came back on 18th June, all the peanuts had gone - and so had the Jays. It was rather disappointing.

There were no further sightings of Jay until 23rd June, when we had a brief visit. There were then sporadic sightings after that.


Jay  - our garden on 28th June 2017
Our last sighting was on 3rd July. 

Jay  - our garden on 3rd July 2017
I miss the Jays and am keeping my fingers crossed that they might return next year. It was a great privilege to have them visit us so often this year.

OK, so this wasn't the short post I promised, but at least it's nearly all photos! My next post will probably cover our New Forest holiday in July.

Thank you for dropping by.
 

27 comments:

  1. Hi Richard! Lovely pictures! Jay is a beautiful bird. Here's a lot of them. They like very strange sounds in the spring. In the forest, it is scary when it comes to strange sounds. But Jay keeps those voices.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. This is not a rare bird in UK, but it is a very nervous bird, so it is usually difficult to photograph! You are lucky to have many of them there.

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. A bird I have never really ever got a shot of over the years and your excellent shots have not helped my jealousy at all. Excellent series Richard.

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    1. I do consider myself very lucky to have had the Jays this year, Marc. Until now, I've had very few opportunities to photograph them.

      Thanks for your kind words - - - Richard

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  3. Perfection images of the Jay Richard, isn't it so beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. They really are a splendid bird, and one that one rarely gets the opportunity to study in detail. I was very lucky!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Your photos are so extraordinarily clear! Beautiful shots. Do you edit? I'm curious as most professionals have told me that these days it's standard practice.

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    1. Thank you for your comments and question. I'm not sure what you mean by 'edit'. If you mean, do I change the composition of my photos by removing bits from them or adding bits in, the answer is 'virtually never'. Having said that, I do recall cloning out a bit of bright white in the top-right corner of the 13th image because it spoilt the overall effect of the image. This sort of editing is about as far as it goes with my images. However, I do shoot in 'raw' mode, so if you mean do I tweek white balance and exposure compensation, the answer is 'quite often'. I will almost always crop an image to get the composition I want. As my lens is not of a professional standard I will often apply a little sharpening to the image, but I'm very careful not to overdo it as that tends to over-emphasise contrast, leave white lines round dark to light interfaces, and suck the life out of an image, leaving you with something that looks nothing like the actual subject matter.

      To fully explain how I process my photos would take a page or two of writing. It is not unusual for me to take around 500 shots in a two hour period, and then take a full day processing them which includes choosing which ones to keep - which will probably be around 10 out of 500.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. A perfect study of the Jays. I hear and see them regularly but they are always in the tops of trees. Great to see them close up.

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    1. Thank you, Adrian. Other than these two in my garden, my usual sighting is of one flying away into the distance as I approach with my car!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Hi Richard!
    So here are your Jay pics!
    Considering they are not that easy to shoot especially by dullish weather, my sincere congratulations!
    Great series of a bird I like very much and although it will readily raids bird nests, it also feeds on insects and small reptiles; all in all I believe it more useful than a pest!
    I am sure they will return for you next year!
    Warm hugs to share with Lindsay :)

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    1. Thank you, Noushka, for those very kind words. I'll not say more here about your recent message which I'll reply to soon!

      In the balance, I too like these birds, and would be delighted to see more of them. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.

      With my very best wishes. I hope you are getting better weather now. Take good care - - - Richard

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    2. Noushka, Noushka, Noushka........I am astonished to hear you speaking of birds in these anthropogenic terms, categorizing them as pests or as beneficial species...........the gamekeepers of the upland moors will be proud of you as they justify the shooting of raptors!

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  7. What a great bird to have visit your garden, Richard, and you were able to get some sterling shots. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that they will come back. And kudos to you for installing the "peanut tree." There seem to have been numerous blog posts on Jays recently, and I am wondering whether the species is becoming a) more common and b) more confiding? Miriam joins me in sending our love to you and Lindsay.

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    1. Hi, David. I too had noticed that there seemed to be a number of blog posts featuring Jays lately, and did wonder whether to publish this one, which had been 'in the can' awaiting publication since just before we went away to the New Forest. However, rather than waste the effort, I decided to go ahead.

      If anything, other than those in the garden, I seem to be seeing less of Jays out in the field these days. Perhaps, therefore, there is a third possibility to be looked at and that is that Jays are moving out of the countryside and into gardens - or maybe I'm overthinking the situation and need to consider Occam's Razor!

      Incidentally, The Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society put out a notice a couple of years ago asking people to report sightings of Jays as it seemed that we were getting an unprecedented influx from the continent.

      With love to you and Miriam - - - Richard

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  8. Awesome. Jay is very beautiful bird. Your photos are superb.

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    1. Thank you for those very kind words, Sami.

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  9. Hi Richard and a super set of images of your Jays, I see what you meant about the size of your log, more like half a tree. We still have regular visits from three Jays which i believe to be two adults and one juvenile. After todays wonderful weather??? lets hope that things improve for Thursday and we can get out. Crossing everything. John

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    1. Thank you, John - it's looking reasonably promising for tomorrow at the moment! See you soon.

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  10. So lucky to get Jays visiting your garden nevermind posing for some excellent images. I had a look in my Jay collection alas it's very bare

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    1. Mainly luck, Doug, but partly the rewards for a heavy investment in bird feeding! My Jay collection was almost non-existant too until these arrived.

      Hoping to see some more from you soon on your blog - - - Richard

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  11. Hi Richard, Ha ha no it was not a short post and a couple of the photos will not download for me. We have been promised faster WiFi speeds in the next four years, I hope it will happen. Meanwhile I just get frustrated!!!
    Love the photos I have seen here, and interesting that the peanuts attracted them. Bet the youngsters were fat and healthy.
    We have Jays down the road from us but I have never managed to take photos of them. Not sure I want to attract them to the garden as the smaller birds may come off second best.
    Hope all is well enjoy your week Diane

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that you couldn't get all the photos to download, Diane, but delighted that you liked those that you could see! It must be very frustrating having such slow internet connection.

      I hope you manage to photograph the Jays yourself sometime. To the best of my knowledge, the Jays didn't cause any harm in our garden, and the only birds that seemed to object to them were the Magpies - now that's a bird that really is a menace to young birds in the nest.

      All is well here, thank you, and I hope that all is good with you too. Take good care - - - Richard

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    2. Speeds have gone from 0.02 back to 0.5 so although we have our usual slow speed, I am back in business again and managed to see the remainder of the photos that I did not see before. Diane

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    3. I'm pleased to see you've got some speed back to your connection, Diane, even if it's not great.

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  12. Hello Richard, a great series of captures. Here we do not see much Jays around. Wonder what happend to this kind of birds. Thank you for your latest reaction on my blog.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. We don't see many Jays in these parts either, Roos - we were just very lucky!

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope that all is well with you. Take good care - - - Richard

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