Saturday, 11 June 2016

A bit of a catch up

It's all quiet on the avian front. Well, it is for me at least. Rare birds seem to be turning up left right and centre, but my urge to chase them has diminished to negative levels. And anyway, I'm always in the wrong place. Today I am in Scotland visiting the old folks. The Spotted Sandpiper however is at Brent Reservoir in London. Hmph. Still, it is just a Spotted Sandpiper, half way across a reservoir, and the fact that it is in London is really just silly when you stop and think about it. It's possible that had I been in London I might have toddles around the north circular to see it. It's also quite possible that I would have stayed at home and done something more productive, like write a boring blog post. 

I'm actually up here to take photographs of birds. It isn't going well. For starters I never got round to booking my spot of the Isle of May boat, and surprise surprise it has been full for weeks due to some special weekend. So no Puffins then. OK, so I'll drive up to Aberdeen and look for that King Eider. Except that the whole of the east coast is covered in cloud and rain, and these days I'm very much a fair weather photographer. And lazy, with little to no ambition. As you get older the things that seemed one day to matter are no longer as important. Yes, I've come all this way, and so yes it's irritating that my plans are not working out, but actually does it matter in the grand scheme of things? No, of course not. I'm warm, I have a cup of tea, the house is very comfortable, there's rugby on the TV and cricket on the radio, and my mother is fussing over me. Life is pretty good, even while my 500mm lens languishes upstairs, unloved and untouched.

In the absence of plan A and birds, plan B is just to bum about and get looked after, and to catch up on a few things. Processing photos from Iceland was top of my list, but of course they're all in London. I had a great time there with Shaun by the way. Top quality birding and millions of photographic opportunities. We chased the decent weather around with some success and generally made merry. Unfortunately I got ill again about half way in which limited my desire to be crawling around and getting low, but generally I felt I came away with some pretty decent images of a number of species I've never got anything on before, chiefly Slavonian Grebe and Ptarmigan, the former of which is basically a no-go in breeding plumage in the UK. Here's one that I did manage to take a quick look at after I got back and before real life took over again.

I usually see Slavonian Grebes only in winter, and so seeing them on territory in their full finery I can scarcely believe that they're the same species! I had a memorable encounter with a bird on a frozen pond in Dartford a couple of years ago, and then one that was almost as good in Wanstead Park, but this was something altogether different! On a narrow lake right next to main road in Iceland, the birds were incredibly close and confiding, although with the nest site looking like it was in some vegetation nearby we did not hang around. We didn't need to as we were taking this kind of photo within the first minute and had as many as we needed very quickly indeed. It was a similar story almost everywhere else, and I ended up with something like 2000 images in a three day blitz. I've so far managed to edit these down to 250 or so, but that's as far as I've got. Looking at a few of them I have high hopes though, very pleasing. I'll do a trip report at some stage as it's an incredibly easy place to get to and you can be taking photos almost 24 hours a day only a short distance from the airport.

Right, time for another home-cooked meal with freshly-picked veg from the garden. I shall be rolling back home in a couple of days.....