Friday, 6 February 2015

Up Close and Personal!

Our garden feeders have been getting busier and busier over the past weeks. Flocks of great and blue tits have been squabbling amongst themselves and the lawn has been scattered with ground-feeders. I try to keep the various feeders filled but it's hard to keep up with them sometimes! Yesterday morning, while still wearing my pajamas, I wrapped up in my coat, gloves and bobble hat and blinked my way through the flurrying snow to refill the feeders. I normally put out a variety of food to keep everyone happy; suet pellets, peanuts, mixed seed, sunflower hearts, suet balls and some nyger seed for the occasional visiting goldfinches.
The great tits are certainly the boldest of our garden birds as they don't even wait for me to leave the area before helping themselves. In fact, I barely even step through the back door before they all descend from the surrounding branches, calling to each other to declare breakfast served! This is my favourite time to watch them, when the food is fresh (out of the packet) and there is a sense of excitement among the birds as they discover if there is anything new on the menu. 

Usually I try to take photos of our feathery visitors from the kitchen window but the feeders are too far away for it to really be worth it, until I get my hands on a telephoto lens for the SLR! On this particular morning, however, I decided to try something new. I took my handheld camera, a tripod and a large umbrella (the snow had turned to drizzle at this point) and set up a rudimentary filming rig on a chair about 2 metres away from the feeding station. My handheld is of reasonable quality and has a good zoom on it but being so close to the station meant that I didn't need to zoom in too far and lose too much image quality. I pushed the record button and went back inside, leaving the birds to do their thing, with the hope of getting some good, close-up footage of them. 
I wasn't disappointed at all! The images in this post are screen grabs from the footage I got and I was particularly pleased with the very close shots of the seed feeder, where it was easy to see the birds picking out the seeds they wanted and flicking the rest on the floor. At least the blackbirds and pigeons are kept busy! What was perhaps the best observation was seeing how many seeds the nuthatch slotted into his long beak before flying off. One of the marsh tits too paid a visit, flew off then returned still holding a seed only to add an extra one to his already-full mouth. 

It's fascinating to see all of these species at such close range, enough to be able to see the detail on their faces and the markings on their wings. Considering I was only using a small handheld camera, I'm quite impressed with the footage I managed to get from this endeavour. I went through it all, taking the best clips and put them all together to create a five-minute video which is actually very relaxing to watch; there's something almost mesmerising about it. Or maybe that's just me!

You can watch the video on my YouTube channel here or below. Let me know what you think!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I absolutely love the idea of the filming rig, and the pictures and video you've got are really great. It's definitely an idea I'll have to try out some time!

    Alexandra (A boom of bitterns)