Everyone Loves A Robin

I hope so, anyway…

Robin, singing

My coronavirus lock-down photo diary continues. Although taking regular exercise and visiting parkland with another person has now been sanctioned by the powers that be, we are personally into our ninth week of seclusion, having attended only essential appointments, picked up “click-and-collect” groceries and of course taken regular local walks.

Garden bird photography still holds the attention. There is no better way to find out what works and what doesn’t than to practice, though the variety of birds visiting the feeders has reduced significantly. However, our resident old friends, the robins, are here every day, come rain or shine, always curious about a new branch I’ve set up and never failing to see when I have replenished the feeders, or turned over a few earthworms…so this little blog is a tribute to our small red-breasted friends and I’ve collected together a few of my favourite images from the last few weeks.

Back in April, I was treated to the sight of a pair of robins roaming the garden together…below is a reminder. It seems that they nested somewhere close by and produced at least one offspring.

Sadly, the baby robin only lasted a couple of days…one day he was being fed by a parent in the bushes…the next morning I found him upside down on our living room floor, a very-ex-baby-robin…and one of our cats had a guilty look on her face. Such is the nature of cats, but it was a sad waste of new life.

One male is definitely the alpha around here and sees off any other robins that he doesn’t want for his personal gratification. One day he surprised me with a gymnastic performance high above the feeders. I had very little thinking time. The first few shots, on 800 ISO were totally blurred, but luckily he was happy to wait for me, so I quickly upped the ISO to 3200 and managed to get some shots. They aren’t the best quality pictures I ever took, but I haven’t seen any paired robin pictures before, so I was pretty chuffed. Hopefully this activity will result in more babies due to fledge perhaps early June.

An even bigger surprise came two days later, when the cock-robin and his partner performed again, just as I was having my lunch! The camera was beside me, still switched on, but I had even less time to think about the settings on the camera than the first time. I just picked it up and shot the sequence on the settings it had…800 ISO…then quickly upped to 2000 ISO, giving 1/800th sec at f/8 for the shot below. Although the wings are blurred, I quite like the effect of the motion. Third time lucky? No chance!

Mating robins

The next group of robin images use May blossom (common hawthorn) to make a frame for the birds and try to create something a bit different. A branch was tied up near the feeders and an area trimmed back to make a clear landing spot, to encourage the birds to land where I wanted them. The method has had limited success but you have to be nifty with the photography, as the branches wilt quickly. I found it helped to swap to another branch after an hour or so, give the first branch water to revive it, then swap again.

Hope you enjoyed the robins and thanks for looking in!

Update 30th May

Randy and his partner appear to have produced two new babies…and they’re soooo proud. However, due to timing issues between mating and fledging, I started to think that he may have another spouse, though they are said be monogamous during the mating season.

© Christine Widdall