A bird in the hand

Today’s picture is another from my brother’s recent visit to MadameTussauds.  Here my sister-in-law’s nephew has an audience of a sort.  He might have taken his hands out of his pocket.

seamus and pope

It was freezing hard and the sun was out when we woke up.  Dropscone was away on family business again and I had an appointment with a bird.  Cat Barlow was ringing birds up at the Moorland Feeder Station and had kindly invited me up for a photo opportunity.  It was decidedly chilly when I got there but I was well wrapped up and I had a flask of coffee to help me keep warm.  Cat does all the delicate work of getting the birds out of the nets, weighing and measuring them and checking their ages with no gloves on at all.  After three hours I would be crying but she manages without any complaints at all (except when savage blue tits peck her).

Bird ringing is one of the few outdoor activities where sun is not very welcome.

ringing nets
As you can see it makes the nets all too visible.  There are two nets in the picture.  One is not so easy to spot.

Fortunately not all birds have a great deal of sense and a steady stream managed to bump into the nets, however visible they were..

retrieveng the birds

Here Daniel, who made the bench for us elderly bird watchers, watches Cat at work at the net.  Talking of stupid birds, one coal tit managed to get caught three times in two hours in the same net.  A visit to the optician may be needed.

There was a wonderful light on the surrounding hillsides and in the gaps while we were waiting for more birds to arrive, we could admire the views.

Whita Hill
Whita Hill behind us.
Tinnis Hill
Tinnis Hill to the east.

Once again to our south the Solway was wreathed in mist.


I needed to be higher up to get a good picture.

After a slow start with nothing but coal tits and chaffinches, a better class of bird started to arrive in all colours of the rainbow.


Blue tit
Blue tit


Tree Sparrow
Tree Sparrow

These were enough of a treat but we also caught a glimpse of a nuthatch in a tree nearby…



…and luckily for me, it was not one of the brighter birds.  It turned out to have been ringed before.  This was the icing on the cake.


And another shot of the nuthatch because I like them so much.



These are undoubtedly the sharpest bird pictures that I have ever taken and the credit for that goes to the brilliant sandycam (Fujifilm X10) in macro mode.

While Cat was taking birds out of the nets, other more savvy birds were nonchalantly nibbling away on feeders that were not more than five yards away.

Blue tits
I admired their sangfroid

Talking of cold blood, I had to give up after a couple of hours or so because I was beginning to feel the chill.   This was the ice in a puddle beside the car.

puddle ice

When I got home, the plum tree was as busy as usual but the difference between the birds in the bush and the birds in the hand is clear to see from a photographic point of view.

Here are some our garden birds in a bush as it were.


I did manage to catch a brambling in flight.

Brambling flying
Brambling flying

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work after lunch having made a start on the final painting job on the kitchen.  I was tempted by the sunny weather to go for a walk in the afternoon but good sense broke out and I gave my weary legs a rest and found something to do indoors.  I have had a good run of exercise since December began and I didn’t want to spoil it by doing too much and having to lay off for some days to recover.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to the choir.  I was expecting to sing for the first half and conduct for the second but our musical director turned up only to say that he was going away again so I didn’t get to do any warbling.  To my dismay he also told us that the pianist wasn’t coming either and as a result, we had an unscheduled evening of unaccompanied singing with an occasional one finger piano support for parts in difficulty.  The choir took to it very well and we enjoyed ourselves.   Always wanting to be seasonally appropriate, we finished with a rendering of All in the April Evening.

During the day, I had to cut some more stamens off Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday lilies but I took a quick snap before I snipped.


You can see that I was onto elliptical cropping today.  On the opposite windowsill some more birthday flowers were giving the lilies stiff competition.


It’s a poor thing compared with a hand held bird but here’s a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch











Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

15 thoughts on “A bird in the hand

  1. The bird photographs today are some of your best ever and I agree the Nuthatch is just beautiful and a favourite of mine also. I had hoped to come up this morning but something cropped up and I missed what looked to be a very enjoyable morning.

  2. I visited Tussaud’s when I visited London decades ago. It’s good to see the replicas are still eerily convincing

    The close-up bird pics are fantastic. The birds look surprisingly unperturbed.

    The Tinnis picture is also great.

    1. The bird handler is an expert and the birds take to the whole process of being netted and ringed very calmly.

      Tinnis was a real visual treat on the day.

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