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.

A couple of birds from week 20.

A couple of photos I was considering for week 20 of my 52 week photo project.

I’ve been photographing a few summer visitors recently, filling in some gaps in my files.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus).

A spring Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

A male Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) eating Grape jelly in an Oriole feeder. Not as colourful as some of the males that were around but this one is hanging around.

A Baltimore Oriole on an Oriole feeder.

An unlikely morning.

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is Unlikely.

One spring morning I’m out with the camera at a section of Little Quill Lake, Saskatchewan. The location was several miles from the nearest road and I’ve no idea where the nearest occupied farm was and I had managed to lock my keys in the truck after getting the camera and tripod out. So I decided to photograph a Common Tern fishing and then preening before breaking into the truck.

Eventually I decided it’s time to learn how to break into your own vehicle. How hard could it be, you see actors do it all the time on TV. There was the remains of a long abandoned barbed wire fence nearby so I  walk over and break a piece of wire off. I used the multi-tool I keep in my camera bag to strip the barbs of and get a straight piece of wire. I’m just about to slide the wire down the window to try to pop the lock when a bus loaded with birders drives up followed by a convoy of other vehicles. It was the weekend of the Wadena Shorebirds Festival and they were on an outing to Little Quill Lake. So I’m now being watched by dozens of people as I try to break into my truck. I slide the piece of wire down the window, wriggle it around and the lock pops open. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, I must have looked like a professional car thief to the spectators. A couple of the birders wander over to make sure that I was breaking into my own vehicle.

After a while the bird tour departs and a few minutes later half a dozen Wilson’s Phalaropes fly in and start feeding along the shoreline. I crawl across some sand, well I’ll call it sand although there was rather a lot of duck and goose poop mixed in it, and get into position to photograph the Phalaropes. They completely ignored me, I had females walking almost up to the lens, to close to focus on.

Feeding Phalarope.

One of the female Wilson’s Phalaropes poses for a portrait.

Female Wilson's Phalarope.