All photographers get a buzz from seeing their images in print, especially when it’s been chosen by others (who have a huge choice from which to make their selections these days) and even more so when it’s that all important cover shot; it has the extra responsibility to help “sell” the publication!
It was therefore a nice surprise to find an image of one of my favourite garden birds, Long-Tailed Tits on the front of this month’s Birdwatching magazine and a Shropshire pair they are too. In fact when I met up with the guys who were helping me put the footings in place for the hide I use for woodland bird photography workshops a couple of summers back, there was a small family group of these flitting around the nearby copse as if they were approving of the site we’d chosen!
Since then they have been pretty regular visitors, rarely on their own as this particular bird is depicted, but more often in family groups – the largest last winter being fourteen birds. It’s a sensible survival strategy in the colder months: more eyes to look out for predators such as Sparrowhawks as they busy themelves feeding, particularly on any fatballs I have left for them to find. These family groups are made of of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles so they are a very close-knit unit following a fairly set pattern to their days foraging and quite happy to sit on pretty much anything I put out in places they know where to look for a morsel.
One little characteristic I particularly like about these birds (skittishness and noisiness apart) is the very faint orange line they have just above their eyes – almost like a teenager trying out eyeliner for the first time and picking a colour that doesn’t match with anthing else!
They are back already this year and when we finally get some colder conditions I can’t wait for the chance to spend some more photographic time with them – one of my absolute garden favourites.