The Jay is the most striking member of the Crow family but the hardest to see/find,usually only located by its harsh scolding screech of a call -‘skaaak,skaaak’.Its shyness is its trade mark for me,this shy woodland bird only ever giving itself away while flying between the trees with its distinctive flash of white on the rump,and bright ‘blue’ flash on the wing feathers.Since a small boy when I was a member of the ‘Young Ornithologist Club’ this bird has captivated me with its mystical manner,shyness to an extreme,I’d sit for hours in my local woodland, with my cold toast,lukewarm coffee in my 1980’s ‘art decco’ style flask on the promise of seeing these birds.My fruitless attempts to track them all ending in sheer frustration,as I’d watch them jumping from tree top to tree top,with them sensing of my need to see these beautiful birds beneath them ever more frustrating for me.
So when my good friend and fellow wildlife photographer Ken from Wales invited me over to his feeding station,set in mature woodland of Oak,Beech I jumped at the chance.He has been feeding these birds now for many years,presenting the only realistic chance of ever getting close to these incredible shy birds,enabling me to capture some close up portraits of them.I spent as much time watching them as I did taking images,amazed at the behaviour’s,displays,and dominance of the feed station,their family trademark characteristic of mobbing ever present.
Their tyical behavoiur was to fly down,pick up as much food as possible then fly off into the surrounding woodland,bury their stash getting back to the feeding station as quick as their wings would carry them.
They are such a beautiful looking bird up close,having their own distinctive personality,in parts cheeky and bold, but most of the time they are really jumpy,reluctant to leave the shelter of the woodland.An interesting fact is Jay’s are one of the most important natural planters of acorns and the distribution of several Oak species is quite dependent on their presence,so their behaviour of ‘grab and go’ is helping in parts to the successful survival of Oak woodlands,as not all the acorns/nuts they hide can be found to be eaten,resulting in new tree’s-‘Natures Natural Gardener!!’
I had a great day, learned some much I didn’t no about this shy bird,thank you to Ken as without your invite these images would’nt have been possible,with full credit going to you my friend for all your hard work over the years in feeding these come rain or shine.
He also has Great-Spotted Woodpeckers there,that come in between the visiting Jays.I managed to capture this one while he was perched on this beautiful old Oak log.
If you are visiting woodland wishing to see Jays, watch out for their white rump and black tail as it flies in their characteristic bouncy manner,listen for the call which is harsh and loud,where the Jay may afford you the briefest of chances to see its stunning colours,be warned though,don’t bother to chase it through the woodland hoping it may come down from the tree tops,it always ends in favour of the Jay!.Good luck
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