Sunday, 17 October 2010

Something for the Weekend

On Saturday I went with a friend and visited Low Barns Nature Reserve in County Durham for the first time.  Although little to see on this occasion, it seemed quite an interesting place with a mixture of wetland and woodland and a number of hides.  Although I didn’t get too much photographically wise this time, it was a nice Autumns day with the trees now starting to turn golden.


Perched precariously at the very top of one of the trees in the foreground in the above picture was a Cormorant, swaying in the wind.  Not a very popular bird due to its veracious appetite for fish and, as you can see from the close up of the same bird below, the damage it can do to trees where they roost.


Mallard Duck flyby


With Sunday promising to be a sunny day and the tide and time just right I thought I would venture to St. Marys, Whitley Bay to photograph some shore birds.  Anyone who has read any of my previous blogs of this excursion, will know that this tends to end in a lot of frustration for me due to the numerous dog walkers, however I thought I would give it a try anyway.

When I got there, there wasn’t many people around and on the beach itself just a fellow photographer with the same idea.  I gave him some breathing space on the beach and set up about half way along this 200 metre or so stretch.  There was plenty of birds coming in with the tide including Oyster Catchers, Curlews and Sanderlings.  After about an hour of waiting, (the other photographer had gone by now) and expecting at any minute to see some dog bounding up the beach whilst its owner shouts at it, some of the birds started to move closer with the incoming tide, in particular a crow that strutted about.


After another half hour the Sanderlings started to come into range.  I'd previously attached my 500mm lens to my camera and, with great annoyance with myself, realised I had forgotten my 1x4 converter.  I had chosen to use my 30D which is a crop camera, instead of my usual 1d MkIIn.  The focusing wasn’t as fast but it does give a little more ‘reach’, ironically, about the same as having the 500mm with the converter attached to the MkIIn.  For most of the time, the birds kept either side of me with the occasional Sanderling running quickly past to get to one side or the other, but gradually a few of them came in close and so I was able to get a few decent shots.  Slowly the larger birds were getting in close too.


IMG_7682IMG_7702Of course the inevitable happened – not a dog owner but a couple of numpties who chose to walk the 3 minutes to the dead end of the beach, of course past in front of me, scaring off the most of the birds, then walked back as there was nowhere to go and nothing to see at the dead end, followed by a bounding dog that chased after the remaining birds!

At least, I thought, I had managed to get a few decent shots and over an hour and a half without disturbance, though I still left in disgust of the selfishness of some people.

Walking back, past St. Marys wetland, there was a number of birders/twitchers. It would seem there was some rare bird(s) around about.  I can’t imagine that it would want to hang about with a whole lot of people chasing after it.  Too be honest I’ve never personally, fully understood the idea of chasing after a particular species of bird, to me I like wildlife – all wildlife and I enjoy watching it, ideally in peace so being apart of a group of 20 or more others clambering to see an elusive bird, just isn’t for me.  I wonder how many of them noticed the Fox prowling in the long grass, right under their noses or the Kestrel hovering overhead.


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