Monday, 21 November 2011

The Snow Buntings of Kinmel Bay

Photographers who find or know where a certain species of bird or mammal is, will try to keep the location to themselves for as long as possible. The reason for this secrecy is, they want to get their images unencumbered by others who will decamp on-mass and who have equipment that defies the budget deficit, but alas possess no field-craft. There could be other considerations of course, for instance the protection of the species, or maybe you have spent weeks baiting a spot, and rightly consider this your own.

A nice wing stretch
However certain (special) species become well known and are well publicised on a variety of web forums, one of these are the Snow Buntings at Kinmel Bay. Local birders have encourage the birds by putting seed on driftwood, two huge logs really, right below a viewing platform, and to their credit have been very successful  for the second year running to the best of my knowledge in attracting these delightful buntings.

This bloody sand gets everywhere 
I arrived bright and early at the site and as well as my camera and provisions to sustain me throughout the day, I also carried some seed, as visitors are encouraged to keep the feeding station topped up. I had the Snow Buntings, ten in all, all to myself for perhaps an hour and a half, then I was joined by Joe Wynn who I new only as a contributor to Birdguides, incidental I put a faces to a names and Joe existed in my head as someone in his sixty's, so it was quite a shock to see this fifteen year old lad sat beside me. A little later Joe and I were joined by Mike Nessbitt, and the three of us together had a wonderful time photographing the buntings. The field-craft here is quite simple, the golden rule is sit still! The average cycle is thus, the birds will fill their crop on average over a fifteen minute period, then they fly off a short distance, usually a groin for about half an hour to digest their meal before returning to start all over again.

During the digestion period you can have a cup of coffee and have chat then crucially just before they return get in position and wait. The birds will tolerate you if you stay still, but will not if you approach them while they are feeding, they will simply fly off.

Love this shot doing what comes naturally 

Of course passers by and dog walkers (bless em) will spook the the birds, that is par for the course, but what really annoys me is when photographers spook them. Well sad to say that happened later in the day as one snapper in particular consistently approached the birds, not by crawling but walking bolt upright  towards the feeding birds. Well he in particular pissed the birds and me off. But you see it didn't matter to him, as he explained he was local and could get his shots anytime.

This bird was foraging for seed among the boulders

 Pity the poor traveler who had spent a small fortune on petrol, and Joe, as he is a school lad, he could only get there at the weekend and had come down from Manchester by train, I think it cost him something like £12.50, and the birdwatchers on the platform and of course let us not forget the Snow Buntings.


  1. Simply exquisite shots. Inspiring work and an informative post. Thanks.

  2. Can't believe there is only one comment on this post,these images are stunning,love how you have got so low to capture the Snow Buntings.

  3. Yeah, I agree with Martin about the angle at which you have captured the shots. They are magnificent images and my favourite is walking towards you, on the pebbles. Fantastic.

  4. An absolutely delightful series of images David.


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