BIRDS 51 – A JAY, AND THOUGHTS OF PICASSO

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Jay, in our garden; 6 Mar 2014.

Jays were the very first birds I saw in our garden after moving in all those years ago, and they are often around.  But they are habitually shy, and the thought of trying to photograph them has never occurred to me.  But today all that changed when, looking out of the kitchen window, I was confronted with one perched in our Upper Oak, really not that far away.  The merest movement at a window is usually enough to send them scattering, but today as I looked out, this bird moved unconcernedly around the Oak – and it stayed, and it stayed – and I dashed into the next room and grabbed the only camera to hand – which luckily had a telezoom attached.

Shooting through a double-glazed window held no great promise of success but, as opening the window was certain to scare the creature away, I braced myself back against the larder door, and started firing.  Lots of shots, because lots, I knew, were destined to be failures.

Let’s be quite clear where we are here – I love crows.  Many think of crows only as black birds, but Jays and Magpies are crows too.  In company with another of my loves –  gulls – crows get a bad press, being highly successful, intelligent and opportunistic, killers and scavengers.  But I still love them and if asked if I would like a Rook or, better still, a Raven, to perch on my outstretched arm, I would jump at the chance.  Just think of Picasso’s Woman with a crow – and imagine enjoying such closeness and intimacy with one of these beings!  (And I greatly admire Picasso’s early work, up to around Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,  – but that’s another story!)

Jays get a bad press from devouring the eggs and young of other birds.  But something that is often forgotten that they aid the spread of Oak trees by burying vast numbers of acorns as winter food stores and then forgetting to retrieve some, which proceed to sprout as new Oaks.  This is the origin of the two Oaks in our garden, and more sprout in our “lawns” (I use the term is its loosest sense …) every year.

This Oak speaks of both death and rebirth.  Below the bird are some of last year’s dead leaves, which have stayed attached to these branches through the many storms and gales that have hammered us this year.  But all of the small twigs in this shot are covered in new buds – we are in March, and Spring is not far off.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

26 Responses to BIRDS 51 – A JAY, AND THOUGHTS OF PICASSO

  1. juliecrombe says:

    Your pictures are gorgeous. All of them! I’m browsing through your blog and I’m amazed by your talent! You’re doing a great job! Did you actually study photography or are you a self-taught photographer?

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well, wow, thank you, Julie! I’m a totally amateur and self-taught photographer. My parents bought me a simple camera about 55 or so years ago, and I’ve been taking photographs on and off ever since. But things really changed in 2003, when I decided to go in for what I call “conscious” photography, by which I mean that I started really thinking about my images, rather than producing them simply by instinct.

      And the instinct came from one of my grandmothers, who was very artistically inclined – it has been passed down the generations. Two of us have received it from her, myself and my cousin, and whereas I took to photography, he became an artist.

      I’ve also attended courses on art, especially Modern Art, and I’m a huge fan of Impressionism – Turner, Monet, Degas, early Picasso and many more, they all take my breath away! Take care, and thank you again for all your appreciation! A

      Like

  2. I love this site. Ace photos, chief.

    Like

  3. Sonali Dalal says:

    Beautiful, Bird as well as photograph.

    Like

  4. drawandshoot says:

    That is a type of jay I’ve not seen before. Very cool looking!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hi Karen – thank you for your kind words! I don’t think this bird is found in Canada, its Eurasian I think – very different in appearance from your New World jays. Glad you like the shot! Adrian

      Like

  5. The Jay is beautiful! (And not because I call my son Jay)
    😉
    Funny. I’ve seen those left over leaves often around here. Now matter what the weather, they hang on. I love that. Persistence! But they’ll need to ‘move over’. Spring is going to test their fortitude. Like winter tested mine!!!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, those leaves hang on in there, like you do. And if you’ve had your fortitude tested, I’ll include a dose of that in the wow parcels too! They may have to be mailed in lead-lined containers…. 🙂

      Glad you like the shot, Gem! I like it too – never thought I’d get one of a Jay! – and of course I’m an ex-birder.

      Take good care of yourself, my friend! A xxx

      Like

  6. Little known fact: corridas are the second most intelligent animal species after primates, so you’re in good company.

    Like

  7. poppytump says:

    You lucky so and so Adrian 😉 Have long wanted to capture a Jay … so elusive … however I do have a found little bluestripyfeather !
    Gorgeous shot .

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thanks, Poppy! I’m no expert on these things, but if you really want to photograph a Jay, the answer might be to try baiting it with food ie acorns. I seem to remember seeing some photos where some acorns had been put out on a flat (as opposed to roofed) bird table, and hidden from the camera’s gaze behind a natural looking piece of wood. Then the photographer set up his telephoto and waited, and obtained shots of the Jays perched on the wood. Have a go! Good luck! And good to hear from you >>> hope you’re fine! Adrian 🙂

      Like

      • poppytump says:

        ah what a lovely comprehensive reply Adrian .. thank you for that …
        As our garden is not overly rural I would be very surprised to see a Jay .. I’ve seen them in trees and flashes of them on walks … it was out in some woods where I found said feather .
        All well here trust the same for you 🙂

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  8. LensScaper says:

    You’ve got some good glass there, Adrian – and I’m not just talking about lens glass! I didn’t know they hid acorns. I am frequently uncovering walnuts in my garden buried by an absent-minded Squirrel. We have a pair of Jays that visit us too. But in my experience the bird that is most easily scared is the Green Woodpecker.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, this shot is ok – but lots of the others are distinctly soft and low contrast. The “secret” here might be that, as far as I can now tell, the bird was perched just about level with me, so that the lens was looking more or less horizontally through the glass; and, also, the bird was quite close.

      Yes, you’re right, the woodpecker is extremely timid too. Thanks for your good thoughts, man! Adrian

      Like

  9. icastel says:

    Very nice “catch”, Adrian 🙂 Lots of shots are sometimes needed, but it was obviously worth the effort!

    Like

  10. Meanderer says:

    What a beautiful image! How wonderful that you have many of these birds in your garden. We have lots of corvids around here but I don’t think I’ve seen a jay.

    I also enjoyed reading your words here. It’s wonderful to see new buds and to feel the effects of Spring. The weather does look promising, doesn’t it? After a grey start this morning, the sun is just beginning to break through, and the birds are quite vociferous.in response.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, thank you so much, I’m glad you like the post! Jays are retiring and you might hear them without seeing them – harsh, loud, rasping calls, rather as if they’re swearing – and then the bright white rump patch making off amongst the trees.

      Yes, it will be nice to have some better weather – some warmth! – and a lack of rain!!! 🙂

      Like

  11. bananabatman says:

    An enjoyable read Adrian, and a good shot, especially knowing how tricky Jays are to catch. Your windows are cleaner than mine at the moment. My excuse has been the weather. 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Flattery will get you everywhere – our windows are certainly not the cleanest!!! 🙂 Thanks for your appreciation, Dave! Despite the PM saying that no expense would be spared, it looks as if the government are not wholeheartedly at one with the £100 million long term flood prevention plan for the Levels. The Parrett is the only major river down there without a barrage – one is long overdue. Adrian

      Like

  12. My goodness, you got a great shot of him even through the window! Cool, Adrian. He’s so pretty too.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad you like it, George – yes, they are beautiful birds, and really quite exotically coloured for something resident in the UK. Many of the shots I took became casualties of the double-glazing >>> I was wearing my reading glasses, I had no time to find the pair I use for distance, so the image in my camera’s viewfinder was blurred >>> that this shot exists is a tribute to Nikon’s razor sharp autofocus, which I know I can always rely on. I hope you’re fine and dandy, my friend! Adrian 🙂

      Like

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