|Male Goosander on the edge of the ice|
I took advantage of some sunshine today and shot over to Moses Gate Country Park near Little Lever in Bolton. I had a target bird in mind - Goosander. I'd seen them in the middle of the largest pool on Sunday when the weather was a little overcast, and I'd even followed a male bird them as it flew over me and onto the nearby River Croal - but I couldn't get close enough for a decent photo.
|Male Goosander close-up|
Today however was very different. At first I spotted three male and three female birds all sat in the middle of the pool, equidistant from all the banks and just about as far away as possible - this is their most usual behaviour. So I took some long shots (as I've done several times before) and thought that would be it. I then practised taking some birds in flight (BIF) shots on the various gulls and Mallards as they shot past me - I'm pretty hopeless at BIF, although I've recently examined my techniques and have got a little better.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was pretty much done and heading for a home when I noticed a lady feeding the ducks from the boardwalk. By accident she had managed to throw her plastic bag in with the last lot of food, and so I went to help her retrieve it. Luckily she had one of those alpine walking stick thingies, and just as I was using it to lift the bag out of the water, I noticed that there was a female Goosander in with the pack of ducks. I was so excited I nearly dropped the stick and bag back in to the water (I didn't though).
|Female Goosander in closeup|
Quickly putting the stick on the boardwalk I grabbed my camera off the tripod and began shooting and the results are shown here. They're the best Goosander photos I've ever taken, mainly because they rarely come so close. A few minutes later, the male bird appeared a short distance away on the other side of a strip of ice. I couldn't believe it when it dived and swam under the ice to appear on the edge of the pack of birds being fed - I've never seen a male Goosander come for food like this before.
|Wot u looking at?|
However, the male was quite skittish and didn't stick around for long before going back under the ice and out into the main pool. With a dark head and eye, it was very difficult to get a good exposure on such a sunny day - I wanted to get some eye detail, but that has resulted in the white breasts being 'blown out' in most of the photos and they lack any real feather detail. They could probably do with some work in PhotoShop but I haven't got round to doing this yet.
That said, I'm pretty pleased with results on the whole and it just goes to show that you can't beat good light and getting close to the birds if you want decent results.