Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Birds of Bossenden Wood

If Wikipedia is to be believed (and if Millwall vs West Ham doesn't count), Bossenden Wood is the site of the last battle fought on English soil, which supposedly lasted for just a few violent minutes in May 1838. These days the only battles you're likely to see here are between the different species of birds as they fight over the various nuts and seeds that the photographers have laid out for them. Purists might regard this as cheating, but I know from experience (having spent many hours wandering around the larger Blean complex hearing lots and seeing little) how challenging it is to photograph woodland birds, so in this instance I have no qualms in resorting to "bribery".

This is the best time of year to photograph woodland birds, as there is less foliage to block the light. I'd been planning to visit Bossenden all winter but it wasn't until earlier last month that a window of opportunity (and blue sky) arrived. I brought plenty of bird food with me, but I needn't have bothered as the conveniently-situated log had already been well baited. So, all I had to do was take my place alongside the other photographers and snap away. My target species were Coal Tit, Marsh Tit and Nuthatch, and I'm pleased to say I got all three of them - with varying degrees of success.

The Nuthatches were the hardest to shoot, staying only long enough to grab a nut and then fly off with it in their characteristic commando style.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

Coal Tits were present in good number and were much more obliging (except when they were chasing each other through the trees).

Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

Marsh Tits were less numerous, and I only really got two or three usable shots.

Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)

This smart male Chaffinch also got in on the act, and posed so nicely it would have been rude not to take its picture.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

And as if that wasn't enough, I also saw Blue Tits, Great Tits, a noisy Blackbird and a group of Long-tailed Tits.

Bossenden Wood also plays host to the red-listed Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. I didn't see one on this occasion (not that was I expecting to on my very first visit), but the show put on by the other birds more than made up for it.

See also:
More of my photos from Bossenden Wood (Flickr slideshow)
Kingsdowner: Bossenden Wood

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