Decent bird pics!

I thought I’d share with you some better-than-usual bird pics I took at the weekend. I’d like you to think I got them by an unusual combination of persistence, skill and ingenuity – but this would not be true.

Take for example the goosander and mallard in the first photo.

Goosander and Mallard at Chester-le-Street

It’s quite easy to take mallard pictures: they’re common, used to humans, and enjoy gobbling up any seed or bread anyone cares to throw at them. Goosanders, however, are majestic and aloof birds, nervous of humans, diving for fish for their food.

Except at Chester-le-Street. Throw bread and seed in the river – as locals were doing – and the goosanders go piling into the mass of mallards to grab their own mouthfuls. They seem to be less successful, and hiss at any other duck that gets in the way; mallards don’t seem to waste their energies on such visible aggression, understanding that it’s “first bird in gets the grub”.

But at least it made for good photo opportunities, as the goosanders were much less nervous than usual.

Using some local knowledge (aka taking Jaybee’s advice) I stopped off at unprepossessing layby on the way out of Chester – “there’s a woman who puts out seed for the birds there, and you can get good pictures of bramblings”. However, my favourite picture from the stop was of a chaffinch perched on a nearby tree.

Chaffinch, just outside Chester-le-Street

Afterwards, I went down to Greatham Creek, just before sunset, to look at the avocets, which have returned unusually early from their winter break in warmer climes. I’ve been wanting to snap them with the industry of Teesmouth in the background: this one has the iconic Middlesbrough transporter bridge.

Avocets at Greatham Creek – with the Middlesbrough transporter bridge behind. (Click to enlarge)

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