Yesterday was a very dull dank and, frankly, cold and nasty February day. I wasn’t really expecting to do much in the way of photography; particularly as I was ‘surfacing’ from having a pretty late night out with a few friends. Nevertheless, something cropped up unexpectedly and that was a bonus.
I was in the bathroom looking over the garden when I saw a treecreeper dart across to a stand of scots pine trees we have near the house. From time-to-time treecreepers visit us to forage on these trees. Unfortunately opening the window when they are directly outside scares them away. This time the bird had flown to the back side of one of the group of trees near its base. Treecreepers have a very meticulous way of working. The start near the bottom of a tree and work their way up the trunk, often in a spiral and then fly down to the base of the next one and up again. So, if I was quick… Well, I opened the window and then shot downstairs and grabbed the camera which already had a long lens attached and a bean bag and dashed back to wait. Sure enough, after about five minutes the small bird appeared from the back of the trunk nearest to me. It is really quite quick at working its way up the tree and I only managed to grab about eight framed shots before it was out of sight and around the back of the trunk again. A couple of those photos I’m pretty happy with. Here’s one.
What surprised me a bit is the length of this small bird’s claws. Perfectly adapted to rapidly climbing the bark on tree trunks. They also use their tail as a further support and steady; very similar to a woodpecker. You can see both these in the photograph but it’s hard to spot through binoculars with a small moving bird. The out of scale claws probably explain why there is another but rarer bird called the short toed treecreeper. Apparently, that difference is about the only way to distinguish between the species and that’s hard to do.
This photo might seem a bit of a luck. In reality, I did take the opportunity presented this time but I’ve long been wanting to photograph these attractive but fleeting birds and this was the first time I’d successfully managed it. It was only by knowing its behaviour and anticipating that it would climb up ‘my’ trunk that made it happen. That allowed me to grab the gear, setup, sort the exposure and have the camera focussed and ready on the direction it eventually came from. One chance only and it was off to some other trees in a different garden.