By the Rhone in Geneva: November 2016
Forget the ducks and swans on the lake. Wander downstream and follow the sweep of the river through rocky gorges and by open fields, through bits of woodland and past people’s back fences.
Leaving the pier at the point of Jonction, spot the Black headed gull with just the beauty spot on her white cheek. Further along in the gorge under the Pont Butin you’ll see Heron, tree perching rather than sit mid stream where the current is perhaps too strong, Or gliding to a refuge just that bit further from your lens. Crows are masters of all they survey from perches high atop the trees. Emerging into fields and a Buzzard rests on a fence post before sweeping off towards the nearby copse. Farther out from the town a Kestrel waits patiently on a telephone line. And in between the birds the countryside is glorious too.
Bird spotting is challenging. Those in our environment, suburban Europe, tend to be quite small, very fast moving, shy and fairly unexciting.
My first surprise from the camera was being able to really see them. To have the time to look, once that tiny image is frozen. Not so unexciting after all! The sheer amazement that a sparrow is, in fact, so colourful!
Of course we have to cheat. A bird table, set relatively close to a window. Some choice food chosen for the potential customer. Not click bait, chick bait! That way they come out of their hiding in the trees and hedges and give us the chance to snap away to our hearts content.
Of course, not all will enjoy the feeder, or the bird house. The chaffinch happily comes for the sunflower seeds, but only from the ground.
They do cohabit of course. Swallows and house martins will nest on your house. Though they aren’t going to stand still for a posed shot when there are hungry babies to feed. We have blue tits and coal tits that find our garden wall’s Swiss cheese finish ideal for making homes.
And don’t even dream of enticing the hawks in. You have to go to them. Around here we get kites and buzzards galore. But they are one tough cookie to catch. Both will hold still on a perch occasionally. But usually they are soaring and stooping. In the autumn you can often see flocks of kites circling with the crows behind a tractor stripping the corn and exposing the small mammals. I’ve not yet managed to be at the right place, at the right time, with my camera. Photography 101. If you haven’t got the camera you won’t get the picture! This distant shot is a red kite.