Friday, 26 August 2016

A Short Break in the Lake District

I recently spent a lovely few days in a little village called Staveley on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria with Bill and Sue, my brother and sister-in-law. They'd rented a house for a week and invited Sarah and myself to stay - unfortunately due to other commitments we couldn't do the whole week but we did manage three or so days at the end of it.

Although this was never going to be a birding or photography holiday, I had managed to borrow a lens off Alan Wilcox, one of my Leigh Ornithological Society friends - it was the new Nikon 300mm f4 which everyone is raving about due to its superb image quality coupled with small size, low weight and image stabilisation.

It perhaps wasn't the best of ideas as I didn't get to test the lens thoroughly, but I did like its handling a lot and couldn't really see much difference in image quality to my big bulky Nikon f2.8 300mm lens. It also came with the added bonus of having a Sigma 10-20mm zoom in the bag too, with which I also had a quick go. All the weir and landscape shots here are taken on the Sigma lens.

As we drove into the village and up to the house I spotted a weir on the River Kent which passes through Staveley and I immediately thought of Dippers and Grey Wagtails.  This was quite a coincidence, as we'd been away to Giggleswick with Bill and Sue at roughly the same time last year, where there was a weir on the River Ribble on the outskirts of Settle which also had a Dipper a Grey Wagtail  - WEIRD!

I didn't really have many photo opportunities on the trip and for a while the only decent shots I got were of a young Robin on a neighbouring house wall and a Swallow sitting on the house's aerial. The Swallows and House Martins were around in fairly large numbers and seemed to be feeding themselves up ready for the long migration south.

I went down the weir several times during the trip, and saw a Dipper twice but not for very long. The photos of these are only record shots to record seeing them and I also saw the blue blur of a Kingfisher as it sped up the river one morning.

But another bird did turn up at the weir whilst we were there and it was Sue and Bill who first spotted it - they described it to me back at the house and, with it's red head and duck-like body, I told them it was probably a Goosander.  How pleased I was to confirm it when I saw it on the last day of our trip just as we were leaving.

But the best was yet to come. We decided to go into Kendal on the way home and there on the River Kent, which is much wider and more impressive here, were at least ten Redhead Goosanders swimming, fishing, and basking on a gravel bank. Kendal is a really lovely town and the river passing though makes it even more special. The spot in front of the Church seems to be a hotspot for Goosanders and this was probably a family party which had been born this year.

So a great end to a lovely short break in the Lake District and I did eventually manage to put the lens through some of its paces.

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