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All images ©ericweight 2015

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Our second visit to Wales wasn’t entirely wasted bird-wise, but just as my favourite images from the previous post were unplanned, so were these. Simply for the sake of doing something different, I decided to walk up the open hillside to the top, a far less visited area of the reserve. Up here only the occasional hiker passes by. Few wildlife photographers seem to bother, the majority preferring to operate in the visitor centre car park.

To be fair, it is an area with few obviouis wildlife merits, it has very little in the way of trees and bushes other than the odd patch of gorse and a few stunted hawthorns. Or so it appears from the valley floor.

Once I had actually climbed a bit, it became apparent just how much birdlife lives there. In particular, there are warblers, pipits, wheatears and as it turned out, stonechats. I am not very good at identifying birds by song but I do recognise these. Their call sounds just like somebody clacking a couple of pebbles together, hence stonechat.

I located them in some gorse and settled down to watch and hopefully photograph them, but with little success. Then I remembered the bag hide in my rucksack and that was the answer. Ten minutes inside the bag and this pair were sitting right in front of me.

To start with I rattled off shot after shot of them perched atop the gorse. I would patiently wait for them to sit still and then take my shots. That is fine, but after about five minutes my CF card was awash with similars. What I really needed to do here and more often in future is take the shots in between. The shots when the bird is not posed perfectly. When it is moving, losing its balance, singing or fighting, those will always be far more interesting. The real story is in between the classic poses. Realising that is fine, but it does result in more blurred shots. The few sharp ones however were worth the effort.  

Being on the wrong side of the river did present some new views of the dipper haunts that we had discovered on our last visit. Once more the bag hide worked like a charm, and I finally got some worthwhile images of this lovely little bird.  Unfortunately I got a lot of rubbish as well. The background was not ideal and the most interesting shorts were spoiled by distracting backgrounds. Next time, same place, but lower to the water should do the trick.

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