Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge: Back of Things.

This is my contribution to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Back of Things.

I was considering a photo of an old farm tractor ploughing in competition at a ploughing match. Which made me think of some of the other images of farming I have. Editors were frequently looking for images of agriculture in the 1980s and 1990s. They would turn to photo libraries for images rather than commission a photographer to go out and shoot such images.

That’s when I remembered this image, manure spreading from behind. A regular photo request was for images of manure spreading. So one morning I spent a couple of hours dodging flying manure trying to get as many angles as possible while the tractor driver would occasionally try to get me.

Cee's B & W Photo Challenge: Back of Things.

Willet walking around a slough.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan in the mid 1990s.

This was going to be a contribution to the July Squares: Blue photo challenge but I ran out of days before running out of blue squares.

I photographed this Willet as it walked on the detritus around the edge of a slough near Punnichy, Saskatchewan, Canada. Taken from a pickup truck window while resting the lens on a bean bag on the window frame.

Willet walking around a slough.

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan, Canada in the summer of 1995.

I had found the nest of a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the middle of a group of large trees. Because of the surrounding trees there was only a few brief periods each day when the sun illuminated the tree trunk and nest hole.

Both the male and female were busily feeding the young in the nest. This meant that the adults would land at the nest hole and check that the other bird wasn’t about to exit before they entered. There is a photo of a bird exiting while the other waits here.

Here, the male is making sure that the female isn’t in the nest before entering.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker male.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan, Canada in the mid 1990s.

This is a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) in the summer. Other common English names include the Striped Gopher and Leopard Ground Squirrel,

Sometimes regarded as a pest by farmers and ranchers due to their burrow systems the species is widely distributed across North American prairies and grasslands. It is known for standing upright and checking its territory, probably looking out for predators and rivals.

Ground Squirrel in the summer.

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan, Canada in the late 1990s.

This is a rather smart male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). I say smart because the bird has new, clean plumage for the spring. By the time he has found a mate and excavated a nest hole in a tree he will be rather scruffy.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (male).

Female Blackcap in winter.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Cheshire in the early 1990s. This is a female Blackcap feeding on a windfall apple in the winter. Sometimes known as the Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) it is a member of the Warbler family. The male Blackcap has a black cap on its head, the female a brown cap.

They were traditionally a summer visitor, arriving in the U.K. to breed. However, in the 1980s a few birds were being recorded in gardens in the winter. In the early 1990s when this photo was taken they were still uncommon in the winter. A few years later they were becoming common. If I recall correctly this bird was reported to the county recorder for inclusion in that years county bird report.

Since then numbers have continued to increase. Research has shown that the winter birds are different than the ones that breed in the U.K. in the summer. The wintering Blackcaps arrived from Germany. Isotope analysis has also shown that the German birds wintering in the U.K. tend to mate with other Blackcaps that wintered in the U.K. when back in Germany for the summer.

Another interesting point is that Blackcaps prefer mature deciduous woodland for breeding in the summer while the birds that arrive from Germany to spend the winter prefer gardens. It’s thought that the birds started wintering in the U.K. because of the milder winters and the availability of food with people feeding birds in their gardens.

Wintering female Blackcap.

Bohemian Waxwing at -30°C.

Throwback Thursday is a follow-up of sorts to yesterdays Wordless Wednesday post. Here’s a Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) at -30°C.

Both birds were photographed in Saskatchewan, Canada in the winter. I’m always impressed by the way small birds survive winter temperatures.

Nowadays some digital cameras make a big deal about a freezeproof rating of -10°C. I find that rather humourous having shot film at -40°C and digital at -20°C.

I found a small flock of Bohemian Waxwings feeding along a fence line one morning. I briefly considered putting up a portable hide (blind) until I thought about how hard it would be to peg down given how frozen the field would be. In the end I followed them along the fence line for a while before leaving them to finish stripping the berries.

A Bohemian Waxwing at -30°C.