By Mark McConville
AN ACROBATIC Goldfinch bird has been captured performing the splits as it tries to balance between two teasel plants.
The amusing pictures show the Goldfinch with a foot on each teasel as its legs slowly get stretched wider, hopping over fully to one of the plants and going in for a closer look.
Other striking shots show the bird off balance as the teasels move in the wind, using its tail to stretch across three of the plants and fighting another Goldfinch in the air.
The remarkable photographs were taken at Hawick in the Scottish borders by local wildlife photographer Ron McCombe (64).
“People seem surprised at the images, and do find them amusing as some of the expressions used by the birds seem painful on the teasels,” he said.
“I have a photography hide at the bottom of my garden and photograph the birds many times every week, and things get a little familiar.
“So when we have snow I spend a lot of time photographing, it doesn’t last too long here in the Scottish Borders so I spend a lot of time when the chance comes along.
“I think the teasel is a great prop particularly with a covering of snow, it just adds a bit of something to the picture, and lifts it out of the norm. The challenge is getting the bird as it lands and leaves the teasel; you don’t always get the picture.”
The goldfinch is a highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call.
Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting bird tables and feeders. In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain.
“I have been a birdwatcher most of my life and this led to me wanting to get pictures of the birds I was watching, I bought my first camera in 1972,” added Ron.
“I like this type of photography because it is keeping it simple, common species photographed at my home in the borders and pushing my equipment and my photography to get some quite incredible images of very common species.
“I think a message I would give to an aspiring wildlife photographer is to “keep it simple”. There are lots of wildlife all around; you just need to figure it out to get some really good images. You need to learn some field craft skills and you do this by observation of your subject which will get you nearer and get the better shots.”