Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hanging out the bunting(s)

A weekend trip to Aust to look for any owls flushed out of the saltmarsh by a highish tide proved unproductive.  I didn't even see the stonechats so frequently reported recently, but retreated to Rod's log where the reed buntings were popping in.  The males haven't quite morphed into the full blackheaded version yet.  I knew roughly the picture I wanted - bird and phragmites seed heads - but didn't quite get there.  Still a few more shots for the collection ........... and a sparrow for good measure.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Whooping Cold Bird

I've written before about our local seasonal wetland - the Nedern.  In winter the fields flood and we get an influx of wildfowl - wigeon, tufted duck, shoveller, pintail, teal, shelduck - and waders, especially redshank.  I haven't ever given them the time they deserve but the angles and light can be troublesome and it's hard to find a good viewpoint. 
Last weekend for the first time I went down reasonably early and tucked into some bushes.  The duck were miles away as usual, but the population of mute swan swells beyond the resident pair and a juvenile and adult cruised around playing at mirror imaging.

Wait a sec ...... let's back up.  That bill on the back bird isn't orange.

OK the most contrived title and intro for a post I've probably ever made!  A keen eyed Nedern watcher had spotted a whooper swan, and it had been hanging around for a while.  Although a number of northern swans overwinter in this area, most are the Bewick's which characterise winter at nearby Slimbridge.  So while I'm not a twitcher at all this was too good a chance to miss.

I'd seen the bird a few times walking the dog, but it favoured the far end of the wetland nearest Caerwent village, and relatively difficult to reach so I wasn't too hopeful of closer shots. 
I did 'visualise' one shot (careful - I'll be talking about 'making pictures' next) when I saw it swim across with the village in the background, but didn't have time to swap the set up to allow a bit more space.  I wanted to catch the church and did so but the bloody thing dipped it's head at the crucial point!

I did manage a few closer shots when it drifted nearer briefly but it was bit shy and I didn't have a hide. 
After it disappeared for a while round the corner I decided to call it a day.  Had just stood up when I heard the instantly recognisable sound of a swan taking off.  It came into view flying low and I tried to grab some shots by handholding a 600mm lens attached to a folded tripod!  This looks ok at this resolution, but isn't one to blow up I'm afraid.

My big treat this summer is a photography trip to Iceland, and I may even see this swan again then.