Blackbird on telephone wires along Swanshard Lane, southwest of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

I was out on the Somerset Levels again early this morning, toting my ungainly Nikkor telezoom once more.  My first stop, to try and get awake after the not too long drive via large infusions of hot coffee and marmalade sandwiches, was along Swanshard Lane, which is a little, winding back road north of Polsham.  This lane just allows two cars to drive past each other in places, but in other places it really is a better idea if one vehicle stops and gets up close and personal with the hedge, while the other vehicle moves carefully past.

And, of course, this is spring and the birdlife is really going for it.  Wonderfully active rookeries were dotted around, and a veritable crescendo of calls included Buzzards, Wrens, Green Woodpeckers, Pheasants and Blue Tits.  And the first Chiffchaffs, little, unobtrusive warblers, are back from sub-Saharan Africa – having flown across the world, they are very probably nesting in the same tree or bush they used last summer.

And as I turned a corner, there was this male Blackbird – all black with a bright yellow bill – sitting on wires and singing his head off.  As he caught sight of me he stopped singing >>> but he didn’t move – he was on his territory and he didn’t feel like being shifted!  So, very carefully, in slow motion, I brought up the 400mm, took a spot meter reading from the sky to produce a silhouette, and started carefully firing frames.

I might have been able to get him larger in the frame, either at or post-capture, but just left of him there was this big, shaggy tree trunk, a very exciting silhouette, and I knew at once that I wanted that in the picture too.  So here it is: down an English country lane, early on a morning in spring.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 80-400 Nikkor at 400mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.

UPDATE: this has to be one of my very favourite photos.  I have of course been a lover of birds for a long, long time, they are for me a tremendously valued part of any land-, sea- or skyscape.  But, beyond that, I am in love with natural things, with Nature itself, and to me this image powerfully evokes Nature’s elemental drama and grandeur. 

Why?  Well, when I look at this I see this little creature, sure of himself, perched on his territory and singing powerfully to assert that fact.  And not overawed in the least by the stark and wild vastness of Nature all around, but actually eminently at home in it, a part of it all, and in his way just as wild as all the rest.


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. bighair63 says:

    This is a wonderful composition! I love it! And like you, love nature!


  2. bluebrightly says:

    This photo is so evocative. What’s funny is that I don’t think it’s necessarily evokes to me what YOU get from it – I think often, especially when sound and the feel and scent of the air are involved – the whole gestalt of a moment is what we try to record with a camera, and whether it’s a “good” photo or not, it may not convey that same feeling to others. But in the end it’s OK. Others see what they see, don’t they? I can’t even put into words what I see here, but I like it, and it does have something to do with the contrast between the little neat package of the blackbird and that big, amorphous world he’s in. And I so enjoyed your description of the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Oh this is interesting stuff, Lynn, how good it is to hear your thoughts! And I especially agree with the subjectivity of photography, especially your words “it may not convey that same feeling to others. But in the end it’s OK. Others see what they see, don’t they?”.

      But what we are trying to record varies too – and what “good” can mean covers such a broad spectrum. For example, I am mostly into images for their purely visual attributes, I’m not so aware of trying to recreate the moment, the “sound and the feel and scent of the air” etc. When I find that I have such entities in an image I value them, but in most cases they’re not what I’m primarily setting out to record. You’re better at that, and that’s why I so enjoy your posts about going places, as you do manage to give such an overall feel for those places.

      Glad you like my description of the moment – thanks – I enjoy writing.

      And I do see what you mean about the “neat little package” of the bird, as against the vast world he’s in. Adrian 🙂


      • bluebrightly says:

        The dialogue is a pleasure…speaking of birds, I like hearing your enthusiasm about them. One I’m enthusiastic about these days is the big, wacky-looking Pileated woodpecker, who comes to the suet hung just outside a glass door. We never saw them in the suburban places where I grew up so they’re equated with “truly wild” in my mind, but they have done better over the years.


        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Its surprising, but some birds we think of as “truly wild” do become more habituated to us, at least locally – and especially if “us” provides food! I was in a motorway services near London recently, and there were two Rooks – really crows of open countryside – virtually begging for scraps in the busy carpark. Good to be in touch with you! A 🙂


  3. Sallyann says:

    I was just about to ask if you saw the face behind the bird, but I see I’m not the first to spot it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. very mysterious looking and lovely thoughts!


  5. Looks like a giant face in the background!!! Do you see it?!?!?! ❤️ ATP❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  6. paula graham says:

    Yea…I love it , different and full of impact, the tiny bird clearly centre stage.


This blog has two pleasures for me - creating the images and hearing from you - so get your thoughts out to the world!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: