I recently realized that since our family holiday to South Africa, I had not photographed any fur or feather, instead focussing on landscapes, abstracts and macro photography. The telelens spent way too much time deep in the closet. But somehow, I suddenly felt like bird photography again and started to think about possible subjects. Around this time of the year, a friend’s huge natural garden is regularly visited by one or more Hen Harriers, but not this year. The weather has been more like autumn than winter, keeping the usual suspects away. Hopefully, I’ll see them soon, because their hunting antics are wonderful to watch and photograph. They hunt against the wind, and when that wind is a stiff one, they will very slowly hover over the fields, in the direction of the eagerly awaiting photographer. Well, I’ll just wait for them to arrive and hope to photograph them in a snow flurry, like I did last year. Instead, I found a cheerful little flock of about 20 Common Redpolls (Carduelis flammea, Barmsijs) feasting on the seeds of Evening Primrose (Oenothera biënnis, Teunisbloem). They were very confiding, and after a short wait they got into shooting range without taking any notice of the lens-swinging human form in the vehicle. I was very happy to watch these beautiful nordic birds for a while, because I used to have two Redpolls for pets and had always liked their happy, highpitched calls.

Common Redpoll; Canon 5D Mark II w. 500/4L IS and 1.4x; 1/200s at F7.1 and ISO400; beanbag from vehicle.

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