My 10 best images from January

January 2021 is already a thing of the past. But as fast as the month went by, looking back I had some wonderful encounters with various bird species. In this article I will show you my best 10 photos which resulted from these encounters.

1. Siskin

1/400 | f/ 4 | ISO 220 | 500mm

This winter there have been an extraordinary number of siskins in Switzerland. After I had never been able to get a good photo of this beautiful species in previous years, I was finally able to do so on the 3rd day of the year. A flock of more than 30 siskins was climbing around in a few alders on the bank of a river. I was standing slightly elevated on a path and was thus able to photograph the birds practically at eye level, if not even somewhat from above. This way I didn't have the cloudy sky in the background, but the trees from the other bank. Now all I had to do was catch a bird that would sit in a good spot.

Alders, however, are not exactly suitable for this. The trees have very dense branches and it was very difficult to photograph the siskins without disturbing elements. So it was a case of trying, trying and trying. A few hundred photos later, the siskins moved on to another tree. I didn't have time to look at the pictures until that moment, so I was delighted when I found some good ones on my camera. This picture of a male siskin is my favourite of all the photos taken that day.

2. Dunlin

1/160 | f/ 9 | ISO 1000 | 500mm

Already at the end of last year I could spot this Dunlin on a pier. However, at that time I was on the wrong side of the channel and I had to gradually make my way home. A few days later, but already in the new year, I tried again. This time I was on the correct side of the channel and the Dunlin was practically in the same place as before. The only change was that it was joined by another conspecific.

The two were not shy at all and did not let themselves be disturbed by me at all. Nevertheless, I approached them very carefully so as not to disturb them. Apart from a couple of cautious glances, the Dunlins showed little interest and continued to rest. This allowed me to experiment with different compositions and framing.

3. Siskin

1/320 | f/ 4 | ISO 2500 | 500mm

A few days later I was again standing at an alder tree on which numerous siskins were climbing around. These birds were even more cooperative than the first ones and so for some photos I actually had to walk back a bit so that the lens could still focus. One male siskin in particular stood out in the group. This one looked as if it was a yellow glow stick hopping through the tree. I was particularly lucky and exactly this male finally landed only a few metres away from me on a branch without any disturbing picture elements nearby. Fortunately, the siskin also stayed in the same place for a relatively long time and so I was able to make sure that I got a really sharp photograph of this magnificent specimen.

4. Fishing black-headed gull

1/3200 | f/ 4 | ISO 450 | 500mm

I was actually looking for Whooper Swans, Goldeneyes and Black-throated Divers on this day. But this Black-headed Gull stole the show from the other birds. Only a few metres away from me, it was hunting for fish in a small pond. These were caught in it when the lake water level dropped. At the mercy of the black-headed gull, it repeatedly dived headfirst into the water and reappeared with a fish in its beak. In this attempt, the black-headed gull even caught two fish at once. What is not visible in the picture: When the Black-headed Gull tried to swallow the two fish, they managed to free themselves.

5. Meditteranean gull

1/1250 | f/ 4 | ISO 160 | 500mm

Together with Levi, I was actually looking for eider ducks this afternoon. But they were not very cooperative. This mediterranean gull made up for it though. It was quite active and was used to the people in the harbour area. The sun was already setting when the mediterranean gull flew past us one last time. The photo is not the most exciting image from a technical standpoint, but the colours and the fact that this was my first mediterranean gull in Switzerland still make this one of my favourite images of the month.

6. Stonechat in the snow

1/400 | f/ 4 | ISO 360 | 500mm

When it started snowing that afternoon, I was still sitting in school programming a simple circuit in the supplementary subject. I could hardly wait until the school bell finally rang. When I arrived home, I quickly exchanged my school backpack for my photo backpack and got back on my bike. Because of all the snow, I didn't make too much progress. But I didn't really have to go far, because just a few minutes later I spotted a couple of stonechats. They must have been surprised by the snow and were looking for food on the lakeshore. One of the females was quite confident and landed in the snow just in front of me. Fortunately, I had already anticipated this and adjusted my camera accordingly beforehand. Therefore I just had enough time to get one sharp photo before the bird moved on.

7. Goldcrest

1/500 | f/ 4 | ISO 2200 | 500mm

Overnight it had snowed a little more and the next morning I went in search of more songbirds. I didn't find the stonechats again, but I did find several other songbirds in the forest. While most of them were rather far away, I had more luck with this goldcrest. As is typical for goldcrests, this one was very twitchy, but thanks to the fast autofocus of the D850 and the 500mm f4, it was just enough to get a good photo before the bird disappeared into the thicket. As with the siskins, this was a first for me. Beforehand, I had never managed to get a good image of a goldcrest.

8. Common kingfisher at sunset

1/400 | f/ 4 | ISO 200 | 500mm

Although I see kingfishers practically every day in winter, I have never been able to photograph them well in the last two years. This kingfisher here, however, was surprisingly tame and I was finally able to get a good photo of this beautiful species. The kingfisher even changed his perch twice and came closer and closer to me.

After some time, the kingfisher flew away. However, it did not fly away from me, but zoomed right past me and away. What a beautiful experience!

9. Great tit in the snow

1/500 | f/ 4 | ISO 720 | 500mm

In winter, various songbirds can be observed at bird feeders. I looked for a nice branch on the forest floor and attached it to my tripod. In addition, I borrowed a bird feeder, which was attached to a bush next to the forest path. The birds didn't take long to land on the positioned branch. Especially great tits and blue tits landed on it again and again before jumping onto the bird feeder. That morning, several heavy snowfalls passed by. But the birds were not discouraged by them and I was able to take some photos of these birds in the snow. This photo of a great tit is my favourite of all the photos.

10. Long-tailed tit

1/500 | f/ 4 | ISO 360 | 500mm

The temperature was hovering around zero that day and there was a strong wind. The snow kept thawing until the next snowfall covered the landscape in white again. It was constantly dripping down from the trees and so after a few hours I was completely soaked. Due to the quite strong wind, I soon had cold and wet fingers. Apart from the shutter release and the button for the autofocus, I couldn't really operate the camera well anymore and so I decided to pack up. I was just about to take the camera off the tripod when, out of nowhere, this long-tailed tit landed on my branch. As quickly as it came, it was gone again, but the time had been enough and of the 5 photos taken, exactly one was perfectly sharp.

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Nicolas Stettler

Weyernweg 27

2560 Nidau

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16.8.2022

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