I spent the afternoon with a friend who recently moved from my street to her new home near Oakwood here in Leeds.
We went to the wonderful Wellington pub on Wetherby Road for their carvery meal (£3.25 has to be the best deal in the area) and it was just as well that we were happy with soda drinks as, due to yesterdays record breaking rainfall, their cellar had been flooded and no draught alcohol was available.
It was almost the pub with no beer, immortalised in a popular song I remember from my youth.
Afterwards we went back to her place for tea and chat and I was entranced by the bird feeder she had on her main living room window. It was a basic plastic contraption like a large square letter C and it fastened to the glass with suckers so that the bottom of the C was the feeding tray, the back was a see through panel and the top was a 'roof' to protect the food from gentle rain.
With me so far ? Good.
Well with this setup, I was able to sit in the comfort of the living room and watch up close as birds and squirrels came to partake of the food on offer. The presence of the window seemed to give them enough confidence to remain feeding even when I'd get quite close to the window but the birds, being much more skittish, never hung around very long.
There was a little rose bush just in front of the feeder and many birds would rest there before making the short flight across to the feeder tray.
This was a good thing as it was almost impossible to get a decent shot of a bird once it was in the tray as the whole contraption was quite small and the suckers and the plastic frame tended to spoil the view.
This was my first attempt at getting a bird before it moved across to feed. I have to say 'bird' as I've no idea what it's called.
As anyone who has read my posts will know, I'm useless at naming birds, flowers and just about anything in nature but that doesn't stop me liking to photograph them. This fella didn't hang around and was off a second after I took this shot.
The birds would give way at the table to the squirrels and the real fun was in watching how these cunning creatures would make their way to the food.
The feeder was on a window about 5 feet off the ground with no window ledge to use as a staging point. That left 2 options - to jump across from the rose bush or to jump up from the ground. The squirrel in this photo was deciding if the food on offer was worth taking option 1.
The jump across would've been a real act of faith as there was no knowing if the tray would hold their weight. No squirrel was willing to make that leap while I was there and so I was treated to squirrel heads bobbing up and down at the base of the window as they worked out how much effort was needed to leap further up to the feeder. It reminded me of that game at fun fairs where you have to smack the heads of some creatures (moles usually) as they pop up at random from various holes.
The commonest method they settled on was to leap up from the ground and somehow grip onto the upright window frame just across from the feeder and then, stretching across with one front leg, would make a successful, if not very elegant, transition to the feeder.
This provided great amusement as we'd be sitting chatting and suddenly a squirrel would appear noisily on the window frame as if fired from a cannon. Then there would be a great scraping of claws on glass and uPVC as it tried to get a grip on the frame and usually this was followed by a slow slide back down like in a scene from the Road Runner cartoon when the hapless (not so) Wile E. Coyote would splat into a canyon cliff face.
This 2nd squirrel photo shows it still thinking about making the leap across from the rose bush but this time I've moved position to get it head on. I never did get a photo of one hitting the window as it was all over so fast - a blur of fur and flailing claws.
Once the squirrels had eaten their fill, they left and the birds returned. Again I've no idea what this fella was called but he looked cute as he puffed out his little colourful chest. Bless.
It was all very enchanting. I posted some photos of a wire ball shaped bird feeder at my brother's house in Wales some weeks ago but this one was even better as it brought the 'customers' so much closer.
I plan to return and set up the camera on a little desk top tripod I have and connect it to my laptop. Using the remote capture software that came with it, I can take photos using the laptop to operate the shutter and hopefully get better photos of the skittish birds as I'll be much further away from the window.
I don't think I'll ever get any exciting species (Leeds isn't known as a migration staging post for any exotics birds) but I'd settle for a sharp image of a common tit.
Stop sniggering back there.