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Birds > Passerine > Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis

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When you go to the seaside during the period of birds’ migration you always get a lot of excitement about what you will manage to photograph  this time, especially that this season gives you a lot of opportunities in this regard. The birds that live in the cold Arctic or Siberia, would be difficult to photograph without a costly and time-consuming expedition. And here, on a Polish beach, you can see them. On my way to the sea I was intending to take pictures of stints, and perhaps to photograph some new species of this bird. I go out to the beach, initially without much enthusiasm, as there were few seagulls on the beach, with one “misfit” among them. It was quite a warm October afternoon. Lighting conditions were becoming less and less attractive, but while I was walking quietly along the beach, suddenly I noticed some movement from around my feet.  I stopped and started to observe the neighborhood. I see nothing. This thing has probably stopped too and is observing me, with such a slight difference that it can see me, while I’m still trying to localize it. Well, I must make a move and unmask the observer. Here it is! Luckily it hasn’t flown away, but quickly stepped a few meters away and froze.  Luckily it froze, as to take a photo of such a swiftly moving bird would be difficult, especially that the light was becoming scarce. Here come the first pictures. I take a glance and I immediately recognize the snow bunting. My first photo of this bird, or birdie, to be more precise. The snow bunting by its size resembles a sparrow or a chaffinch.  It has a wingspan of approximately 30 cm with a weight of about 35 grams. So even with a 600mm lens you need to have your target at a few-meter distance, not more than 10, to make the pictures stay in your memory. The snow bunting can be observed in Poland during its migration, that is between October and April, and it is not frequently encountered. So you have to do everything to make the session last. My slow and very peaceful movements caused a situation  in which the snow bunting, not taking its eye of me, started to feed, giving me an opportunity to take a series of pictures. Unfortunately there was not much time, and even this was divided between the brant goose and the snow bunting. That’s how my first shooting session of the snow bunting ended, with a hope that it wouldn’t be worse the next day.
Day Two
It was still dark when I went out to the beach. Although I didn’t manage to camouflage myself there, my peaceful behavior made the birds trust me and come closer and closer. This was true for the snow bunting  too. It accepted my presence to such an extent that my AF stopped sharpening. Luckily not for long, as the bird walked away a little, hiding behind a sand hump. It is cool to have one shot like this, but a whole series is a bit too much. Slowly I moved to the right, where not only could I see the entire bird, but I also had the rising sun appearing from behind the clouds above my head, which made the photos look warmer in terms of color. Not to mention the cooperation. The snow bunting must have appreciated my efforts or perhaps it felt the warmth of the sun too, and it began to preen, stretching and totally posing for me. From the few pictures of the previous day’s open-air session, the size of my photo collection of the snow bunting enlarged into several hundred pictures. The selection of photos for the gallery is going to be a difficult task, and it probably won’t finish in a basic, 24-shot gallery. It gives me such an incredible satisfaction when not only do I have an opportunity to photograph a new species, but I also have such a wide choice of pictures which I can upload in my bird diary. Unfortunately despite the full „photographical” cooperation in this open-air session from the side of the snow bunting and the brant goose, acoustically the birds gave just a single “tweet”, and the recording was so short that I actually don’t have the sound of this bird. Nevertheless, I invite you to take a look, as it’s a beautiful bird…
Last minute news -03/2016
During the March 16' visit on the Hel Peninsula no extraordinary pictures of the snow bunting could be taken. This time the birds (two of them) were very skittish and did not allow me to take pictures better than before. However the overloaded existing gallery has been rebuilt and supplemented with new photos.
Last minute news - 07/2018 - Spitsbergen
There was no problem finding snow bunting on Spitsbergen. In Longyearbyen, like sparrows, they searched for food on the sidewalks among passers-by. It is the only representative of passerines occurring in the far north, the only singing bird that animates this harsh, cold climate. Why did they choose such an unfriendly severe environment, knowing that there are places where it would be easier to survive, since they migrate into temperate zones to winter. It is hard to say. While watching the bird that fed the fledglings I managed to take some interesting shots of a male, and it was in its mating plumage, what would be impossible in Poland where they migrate. Just like taking photos there was not a problem also it was quite easy to record the sound. The birds liked to sing and every now and then we could hear their song, which you can listen to in this gallery.

Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis
Plectrophenax nivalis