It had been mostly clear overnight and a cold, bright morning followed. A slight frost hugged the ground in sheltered places, a frost that melted away within minutes of sunrise. I scraped a thin layer of ice from my windscreen so that I could see clearly and set out in search of curlews.
This may prove to be a good year for curlew photography, there are plenty of birds around, at times their burbling calls fill the skies and I’ve even had the pleasure of watching and listening as one flew low overhead while I was standing in my garden.
So there I was, driving along at a snails pace and checking out a few spots that I thought offered the best potential. With one hand on my steering wheel and one on my camera I was ready. Did I get to photograph any curlews? No I didn’t. They were poorly sighted, too far away, or unsettled by the sight of a car at such a ridiculously early hour and refused to co-operate. I was beginning to think that I wasting my time and should have stayed in bed, like every sane person in the land was probably doing. Then I spotted another spring favourite of mine.
A few wheatears were foraging around a couple of small boulders that were lying among clumps of heather. Gently slowing to a halt (which doesn’t take long from a snails pace), I placed myself carefully for what I thought would make a nice picture and waited. Thankfully, the birds didn’t disappear at the first sight of me, which is what usually happens. My patience paid off and eventually I took what I consider to be the photograph of the morning – a very smart looking Mr. Wheatear posing on an equally interesting looking rock. That will do nicely thank you; time for breakfast.