Tangarreg pools revisited

With a couple of days off work combined with gorgeous clear skies it felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit a local hide to get stuck in to some bird photography.

The hides at Tangarreg pool allow you to observe a variety of garden and woodland birds and the opportunity to photograph them up close in a natural setting among an assortment of perches and cleverly concealed feeders.

Settling down inside the now familiar pond hide, I sat with camera poised in one of the small viewing windows and waited. Inside the shelter covered with camouflage netting, the birds would have little if any idea of my presence allowing me to photograph them without disturbance.

View from inside the pond hide

My patience was soon rewarded and the first visitors appeared to feast on the seeds hidden in crevices on these strategically placed perches directly outside.

Blue tits were the first to emerge in a flash of blue and yellow and seemed to be the most numerous visitors of the day. There were at least three individuals including a rather dishevelled, faded individual and what was almost certainly a breeding pair.

Blue tit gathering peanuts
A pair of blue tits on the lichen covered perch
Dishevelled and faded blue tit
A much smarter looking bird
Blue tit landing

They delighted by chasing each other through the undergrowth before one (presumably the male) put on a courtship display, hanging upside down from a branch and fluttering his wings.

A pursuit through the undergrowth
A male blue tit displaying to his partner

Before long the blue tits were joined by other members of the tit family including the much larger and brighter great tit with it’s black head and chest stripe, and the diminutive coal tit.

Great tit feeding on sunflower hearts
Hungry great tit
The distinctive black stripe running down the chest of the great tit
The diminutive coal tit

Finches were also in abundance with delicate, vibrant yellow siskins occupying the niger seed pots with the occasional goldfinch for company. Nearby a male chaffinch serendaded from one of the feeding perches.

Blue tit (left) with female siskin (right)
Female siskin
A pair of male siskins on the niger seed pots
Male siskin
Blue tit and siskin
Goldfinch – unfortunately perching on a metal support rather than one of the natural perches
Male chaffinch with head feathers raised
Crunching through sunflower seeds

The one bird I was particularly keen to see was the bullfinch, my favourite bird (second only perhaps to the splendid goldfinch). Although often shy and elusive, the bullfinch is an unmistakable bird, the male a deep salmon pink colour with striking black head and grey wings.

Male bullfinch incoming
The unmistakable male bullfinch

Bullfinches are monogamous, almost always seen in pairs and so with the arrival of a striking male, his female would likely be not far behind. Sure enough he was soon joined by his partner, a less dazzling bird in a buff coat of feathers, but still beautiful in her own right.

Male bullfinch with his partner swooping in from behind
Female bullfinch

I particularly love watching how they use their large beaks so delicately to remove the husk of sunflower seeds, as demonstrated in this brief video clip below.

Delicately removing the husk from sunflower seeds
Female bullfinch manipulating a sunflower seed

A short distance away from the main feeding area are yet more perches and tree stumps designed to attract larger visitors to the pond hide.

Jay calling
Jackdaw on a tree stump

The peanuts cached inside these feeders are a particular favourite of the jay and the jackdaw, who swooped in to fill their beaks and crops with as many nuts as they can carry!

Jackdaw collecting peanuts
Jay filling it’s crop
Lift off!

Unlike it’s predominately black jackdaw cousins, the jay is an unusually colourful corvid with pinkish body, white rump and unmistakable electric blue feathers on the edge of the wing which this bird showed off nicely.

Jay showing off it’s blue wing feathers

One final species appeared which I have not photographed successfully before, a great spotted woodpecker! This individual is a male, revealed by the small patch of red on the back of his neck which is lacking in the female.

Male great spotted woodpecker
Woodpecker feeding on peanuts

I was delighted to enjoy several minutes with this very photogenic bird, even if it did keep shuffling around the tree stump in typical woodpecker fashion to disappear out of sight…

Hide & seek with a woodpecker
Emerging on the other side

During my several hours in the hide I was kept entertained by a steady stream of birds in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. From my vantage point and equipped with my 300mm lens I was able to see and capture some of the finer details of these birds, the intricate details of their feathers and the glint in their eyes, just beautiful!

Poised chaffinch
Male siskin showing up his intricate feather markings
Female bullfinch portrait
Blue tit preparing to lead from a perch
Male bullfinch on a seed bowl

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Photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2023

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