Flying in from roost, Tadham Moor
Canada Geese and Starlings flying in to feed on Tadham Moor in the early morning; 9 Jan 2014.

Birds that are active during the day spend the night, often communally, in some kind of safe place called a roost.  Many thousands of the gulls that scavenge daily around Bristol, for example, spend their nights out on the waters of  a large reservoir, where they are safe from attack from land mammals.  Then, as the day breaks, they leave their roosts and move to the areas where they are going to spend the day feeding.

I was down on Tadham Moor at dawn yesterday and birds flying into the area from their roosts provided two wonderful spectacles.

First, loud honking calls in the distance heralded the arrival of lines of Canada Geese, a species introduced to Britain from the Americas which has become very numerous during my lifetime.  And here are five of them flying in from the west, no doubt intent of the many wet, indeed flooded, fields that I found around me down there yesterday.

I never use watermarks on my blog photos because I think they spoil images tremendously.  Instead I post pictures at less than perfect quality to deter thieves – and I have also reached the happy state of mind where I’m not really bothered if my images are stolen or not – I simply can’t be bothered contemplating this eventuality … Life is too short and there are certainly better things to think about.  For me, the vast satisfaction of photography lies in the creation of images – the thought of stealing someone else’s holds no appeal whatsoever – even if The Great Gods Cash And Profit are involved.

Anyway, because this image has quite small subjects, I’ve posted it as a full quality jpeg and if you click on it, it will open at larger size in a separate window – and you’ll be able, for example, to see that the last goose in the line has its beak open – it was calling as I took the shot.  You should be able to switch back and fore between this enlarged window and the blog post.

But beautiful as these geese were, the second influx of birds – Starlings – were really entrancing.  For off to the southeast, in the Westhay area, there have been vast winter roosts of Starlings for some years now – I see a figure of 400,000 on the net – google “ham wall starlings” and don’t forget to look at the Images tab!

Anyway, standing in the Magic Carpark not long after dawn, I was treated to flocks of 50 or 100 at a time of these little birds bustling northwestwards out of that roost and hurtling over the flat countryside at below treetop height.  Flying low over the dark countryside, they were often impossible to pick out as they approached, such that the first hint I had of their presence was an absolutely wonderful low rustling in the air – like the rustling of silk – as they passed low overhead.  Listening to that soft sound as they shot busily by, twisting and flowing around the trees in their path, was simply magical and certainly spiritually uplifting.

Compositionally, the tree anchors us in the lower right corner of the picture, and the geese, large and rather ponderous, are flying out from it into the frame.  In complete contrast, the much smaller and swifter Starlings are hurtling up from the bottom of the frame, almost around the tree’s periphery.  And there is a great contrast between these little, speeding shapes and the much larger geese – if this were aerial warfare, the geese are the bombers and the Starlings the fighters.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Overexposed EV +1 preset.

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.


  1. Meanderer says:

    Love the image, Adrian – and it looks marvellous in its bigger size. I agree with you regarding the risk of images we post being ‘stolen’. I discovered a couple of months ago that some of my images were appearing on a variety of sites – one of which was a garden centre in the UK which had used one or two of my images for sales purposes. I was a bit miffed but sort of understood why they wouldn’t think twice about using such images because of the way google images displays them. It raised all sorts of ethical questions at the time, but I decided not to pursue it because – as you say – life is too short to get annoyed at such things.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I’m very glad to hear that you’re taking this view of things, because I think this view very much a part of the simple life that you and I are looking for. Everyone gets wound up about ownership and The Great God Cash, but in this instance let’s forget about all that. If someone has “stolen” our images (and I’ve never had that happen, albeit I’ve never searched), well we haven’t lost anything – and at least someone thinks our pictures good enough to draw customers. And Ethics, is that anywhere near Suthics … ??? …

      Glad you like the picture. I might post more “enlargeables”, its something to keep in mind. Thanks. A 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sallyann says:

    Nice catch. I should think about empty space in my pictures more often. 🙂
    On another note, one of my Christmas presents this year was stolen from my blog.
    Youngest Daughter had a calendar made for me online and used pictures from the blog to decorate each month as the seasons change.
    I publish my pictures at usually less than 20% size and try to unobtrusively add a little copyright logo to each one.
    It’s interesting to see that the company still printed the pictures even with the logo on them.
    I wonder if Youngest Daughter noticed they were there. 😀


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Empty (= negative) space can be good, I’m guilty too of sometimes cropping too tightly.

      I like the calendar story. And interesting that the company paid no heed to your copyright notes – maybe that’s a hint on how effective such notes are >>> be like me (you know you want to!!!) and just forget the theft thing, its not worth agonising over, its one of the many barriers, albeit a small one, to The Simple Life. A 🙂


  3. That last guy does have a lot to say and the first and the fourth look almost exactly alike. Love the bird shots! xxx ATP


  4. sheldonk2014 says:

    Adrian I am so glad to hear that the fear of taking what doesn’t belong to them is gone I often find my self obsessing about the same. But I’ve since have made peace. This photo is great and I love the fact that is black and white, also the click thing really does do justices. Thank you


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hello, Sheldon, good to hear from you, man! Thanks for your good words re the picture. I’m glad to hear that you’ve stopped obsessing about image theft too – after all, if you or I have an image “stolen”, we’re still left with the original and we still have the satisfaction of having created it.

      But maybe our thoughts might not have been the same in the days of film – if you or I had had a single copy of a prized colour slide for example – a unique physical entity and object of beauty – we would probably feel far less happy about having it stolen! The advent of digital has made things simpler in so many ways. Adrian


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