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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Return To Cannock Chase - on 31st October, 2013

Cannock Chase, and particularly the informal feeding station there, is a favourite place to go when the spirits are a bit low. There are several aspects to the attraction of this place. (1.) The bird activity is relatively intense. (2.) The virtually non-stop action gives excellent practice in improving one's camera skills, in varied light conditions. (3.) Whilst the birds there are relatively commonplace, occasionally some gems do turn up. I'll never forget the Hawfinch that was only about 3 metres away from my car window whilst I was eating a picnic lunch one Christmas day(!), and I've also seen Waxwing there. (4.) A session here gives one a sharp reminder as to just how beautiful some of our 'everyday' birds are!

On the last day of October, my pal Titus and I made Cannock Chase our destination for our regular Thursday get-together. The weather was bright- if a bit breezy, but the birds performed well. Titus had the side of the car with the most action, but I suspect that I had the side with the better light.

The first bird to be captured in my lens was a female Bullfinch. We had several sightings of a female but, unusually, no sightings of a male.

Bullfinch (female) - Cannock Chase
The most common birds here are Coal Tit and Great Tit. They are not, however, the easiest to photograph as they rush in, take the food, and are gone again. I think of them as 'smash & grab' artists.

Coal Tit - Cannock Chase
I always find that Great Tit is particularly difficult - it's trying to get detail in the black without burning out the white. I tend to try and under-expose, and then correct in the post-processing stage. This first Great Tit was, I think, the scruffiest I've ever seen!

Great Tit - Cannock Chase
For me, the stars of the day were the Redpolls. There was some suggestion from another birder here that one of the Redpolls was an 'Arctic', rather than a 'Lesser', but I'm not convinced.

Lesser Redpoll - Cannock Chase
The Nuthatches here can be relied on to put on a good show - but you have to be quick! One seemed to be intent on burying peanuts.

Nuthatch - Cannock Chase
We had a brief appearance from a Long-tailed Tit - usually more of these are seen.

Long-tailed Tit - Cannock Chase
The same birder who reckoned on the Arctic Redpoll also said he'd got a one-legged Chaffinch. I suspect that it was this one which, on occasion, seemed to be reluctant to put its right foot down!

Chaffinch (male) - Cannock Chase
A strong contender for the most beautiful of 'commonplace' British birds has to be the Blue Tit. They also seem to have such cheerful characters too!

Blue Tit - Cannock Chase
We were about to depart, as it was starting to get dark, when this Greenfinch arrived.

Greenfinch (female) - Cannock Chase
Thus ended a very enjoyable afternoon at Cannock Chase. I suspect that we'll go back before too long!


  1. Great pictures, Richard. The only time I birded Cannock Chase it was dead as a door nail, but I didn't know where to go I guess. My favourite birding spot in Staffordshire was the Doxie Marsh.

    1. Thank you David. I'd be happy to take you there next time you're in UK. Never been to Doxey Marshes - must put that right sometime as it's a great place by all accounts

      All the best - Richard

  2. HI Richard These photographs are all superb. I love the ruffled feathersof the Great Tit but as you say the Redpolls are fantastic. A great selection of birds.

  3. If I took these my spirits would take off,incredible images,with amazing sharp detail.
    I particularly like your Redpoll shots,because we don't get a lot down this way,you say these were taken about three metres amazing.
    Would not like to say who is the star of the show ,but my money is on the Nuthatch.

    1. Thank you John. Most of these images were taken at a lot more than 3 metres - for example, the first Redpoll was probably at about 15 metres. It was the Hawfinch one Christmas that was at about 3 metres.

      All the best - Richard

  4. Your pictures are just amazing. I think I like the scruffy Great Tit the best because it is a perfect picture of a not as perfect bird. From Findlay

    1. Thank you Findlay. I couldn't resist taking a photo of that Great Tit. Often a scruffy bird is an unhealthy one, but this one seemed to be just fine.

  5. Your bird images are always super stellar!! I thought I was in love with the bullfinch until I saw the blue tit. Man!! You not only get a diverse variety of birds, but you also bring back beautiful photos of them.

  6. Superb Richard, great set of images, wonderful lighting and detail. You may want to get a second opinion on the Redpoll sp, Very light ground colour suggest it maybe arctic. I saw a load of Arctic Vs Mealy in Finland and they are unmistakable, however Arctic Vs Lesser isn't so easy.

    See this paper for more info

    I had a Mealy Redpoll visit my feeders for 4 solid months, brilliant bird, you can find info in my Archive sections of around January 2011

    1. Thank you Dave. I'm not sure whether you're tactfully saying that you reckon it actually is an Arctic Redpoll, or whether you just saying that you think it might be. I've looked at the link (interesting! - thank you), but have not got a keen enough eye to make any judgement. I'd welcome any input on this one! Had a look at your Mealy Redpoll and came to the conclusion that I may well have had one or more visiting me last winter - chunky and similar colouration.

  7. WOW-WOW!
    What a post!
    The Bullfinch is very occasional where I am, that's one species I am really fond of!
    And the Coal tit does not live here.
    A great pleasure to admire your pics!
    Well done Richard!

    1. Thank you for your extremely kind words, Noushka.

      The Coal Tits are cute little characters!

  8. More good stuff mate and the detail in the feathers you have managed is amazing, keep it up!!


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