This week I continued my 2017 bird photography project, after a bit of a break, as I went in search of the interesting looking Siberian Nutcracker in the capital area of Finland. As is often the case in my nature photography I was accompanied by my friend Mika. I have nearly photographed this bird previously, having seen it already in January this year but been unable to get a recognisable photograph.
It is often the case, even when having a good idea where a certain bird might be, that you can spend many hours in the location without finding what you are looking for. On this occasion however, we were fortunate, and we quickly spotted a number of individuals, or perhaps it was the case that they spotted us and the 2kg bag of peanuts we are carrying.
The nutcracker is a medium sized bird, a relative of the crow family, and feeds mainly (surprise, surprise) on nuts. On this day those nuts were the peanuts that we had brought with us but usually they would be the nuts from fir trees. As far as I can tell from the internet, each individual may collect tens of thousands of nuts during each year, eating some but storing the rest in hidden caches which they can revisit in times of food shortage. It is thought that the recovery rate for these hidden stores is very high (about 80%), with the unrecovered portion playing an important role in spreading and regenerating the forests that sustain these birds.
When observing the nutcrackers eating our peanuts it seemed like they were being super greedy... stuffing many nuts to their mouths at once... reading about them afterwards indicated that they would probably have been storing them in their throat pouches for transport to a suitable storage place.
We were lucky enough to see a number of Nutcrackers on this day, and each was always looking to establish control of the food supply. Mostly the pecking order was established by minor intimidation, with the smaller or less aggressive birds giving way, but occasionally a minor scuffle was required in order for evenly matched individuals to work things out.
More often than not a Nutcracker would just sit nearby, waiting his or her turn to feed, close enough to indicate that it was next in line but not close enough to cause a fight.
Apart from the nutcrackers, the peanuts also attracted the attention of a number of other birds including a great spotted woodpecker and a variety of different tits. The great tits and blue tits are such common sights that I did not photograph them on this occasion, but it was good to see both coal tits and willow tits. To me these two species look similar when they are in motion but in the photographs it becomes a lot easier to see the differences.
While the great tits and blue tits are commonplace, and the coal tits and willow tits are interesting, the crested tit is for sure the coolest of the bunch, at least the coolest of the ones you are likely to find in the south of Finland. We were lucky to see a crested tit on this occasion, you really could not miss it as it was constantly singing its distinctive song. I guess that if I looked that cool I might be shouting about it also.
This was a fun day, and also a successful one as I was able to take my species count for 2017 to 165 with the addition of the nutcracker.
Thanks to Mika for another good day!
Enter your email address to receive notifications of new blog posts