St David's Day

March 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

 March 1st is a special day. It's the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. It's also the day on which my parents got married. Remarkably, this year is their 40th wedding anniversary so as is only fitting, we had a surprise family lunch arranged at a very nice pub in the Cotswolds. This meant I had a few hours in the morning to venture out with my camera before we settled down to celebrate. Recent weeks have been extremely frustrating from a photography perspective. I've seen some superb birds, including my first ever Bramblings, with a Goshawk also seen relatively close to home. However, sightings aside and despite a few sessions locally, I haven't taken a pleasing photo for what feels like an eternity, hence the lack of blog posts. Given my limited time today I opted to stay very close to home and check out a few of lakes within the Cotswold Water Park. I'd visited one spot the day previously and had a lot of fun with the many gulls residing on that lake, including a juvenile Common Gull which caught my eye and posed nicely, though the light was pretty dire.

Common Gull (juvenile)Common Gull (juvenile)Dim and dreary light didn't help but I couldn't resist getting a few images of this charming gull. It stood out thanks to the dark bill-tip and grey/blue leg coloration.

Common Gull (juvenile)Common Gull (juvenile)A closer frame of the head and torso.

Back to Sunday, I arrived at the lake at just before 10am and had the car park pretty much to myself. I made the most of it being quiet and put down some seed hoping to lure the Bullfinches down but the Mallards and corvids wolfed down most of what was available. I had hoped on getting some shots of the Carrion Crows and Magpies but the light was too harsh for anything tip top so I gave up after a while. I did however take advantage of a drake Mallard who was begging to have his photo taken.

MallardMallard

I soon switched my attention to the gulls. There were plenty of adult Common Gulls present but they seemed a little warier than their black-headed relatives who were clearly more used to the offerings chucked out by local visitors. Almost every time a car arrived the gulls would rise from their resting places in case an easy meal was to be found. This made photography easy as just the sound of food hitting the water was enough to pull in a good number of birds. With a handful of bird seed chucked out, in came the gulls. I fired off a few frames but wanted something a little different. The wind strength meant the gulls were having to make aggressive turns to come back in to feed, often banking with their wings and tails fully spread. With a bit of dark cloud moving over I was able to get a nice image of a gull 'fully spread' against a nice contrasting sky.

Black Headed GullBlack Headed GullA fast turn and swoop for food caught against some rain-filled clouds. Time was getting on so I opted to leave things there and head back via another lake just up the road. To cut a long story short, I saw nothing of interest until I got to the far corner - pretty much the last remaining visible part of the lake before routing back to the car park. Here, two Great Crested Grebes had just stopped displaying. I watched from a distance in case they started again but they seemed more intent on seeing off an encroaching Red Crested Pochard. I made my way down to the waters edge and was surprised to find one of the grebes heading towards me, seemingly interested in what I was doing. I quickly got my camera and bean bag ready and laid down on my awesome tarpaulin and clicked away. It didn't come in as close as I was hoping and was in shadow for this time so I waited for it to drift back into the sunlight before getting a few shots.

Great Crested GrebeGreat Crested GrebeSeeing these birds displaying is a sure sign that spring is in the air. That was the end of a fairly entertaining few hours under clear blue sky. Whilst it would've been nice to have been pointing my lens at something more exciting it was great to be out with my camera shutter actually being used! With the evenings getting lighter it won't be long before I'll be able to make use of the time after work. I'm already counting down the days until the first batch of butterflies emerge and am also looking at more reptilian action this year. Then there are the spring migrants yet to arrive. Suddenly things are looking up!

 


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