Monday, 22 April 2019

Putting Things Right

If you read my last post you could probably tell I was bit upset with the shots I got from my previous visit to Far Ings primarily due to the heat haze and sun direction.  So today I decided to try to put things right.  I got up at 4am and had left by 5am to go straight to the Reedy Hide at Far Ings and try to beat the haze with a few early rising Marsh Harrier shots.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Part 2 - A Disastrous Day at Far Ings NR

Well, 'disastrous' might be a little over the top, but it was very frustrating and disappointing for a number of reasons which hopefully will become clear.  I'd risen and left the house early to beat the motorway traffic and heat haze over the redbeds at Far Ings Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire this morning.

I called in at Barton-upon-Humber first for the Red-necked Grebe (see my previous post), but my main target for the day was to to get some clear, close shots of Marsh Harriers.  Don Davis had given me a tip off that a pair were nesting fairly close to one of the hides at Far Ings and that good close shots could be had.

However, I was late getting there due to visiting the Red-necked Grebe and as I set off to walk roundd to the hide, I met a chap who told me he'd just been photographing Bearded Tits at the Bridge Pool near the hotel.  He said the light was good and the birds were shooing quite well and if if he were me, he'd go back for them now.  So I headed back to the car but met up with Simon, the Warden here, on the way.

He gave me some great information about what was currently being seen at Far Ings and where to look.  But we chatted for about 20 minutes and all the time it was getting hotter and the sun was moving its position.

I jumped in the car and parked on the road near to the Bearded Tit location where I spent a good hour trying to get a decent photograph of them.  I had plenty of sightings of male and female birds flying over the road, collecting food and taking back into the reeds, but no clear views for photographs.

So very frustrated, I headed off back to Ness Farm car park to go for the Marsh Harriers.  In my haste to leave and unbeknown to me, I left my tripod on the roadside where I'd parked. I only found out about this when Mandy, a staff member at Far Ings who I'd contacted earlier in the week, messaged me on Facebook when I'd got home asking if I'd lost a tripod.

I was gobsmacked to say the least as I am normally so careful with all my gear and usually double check that I've got everything.  It seems that Simon, who knew I'd been down at the Bearded Tits, had found it on the roadside and picked it up for safe-keeping.  As it's an expensive Gitzo tripod I can't thank either of them enough for doing this for me and I'll be back to see them and collect it next week.

So by the time I reached the hide, the muggy haze was well-established above the reeds and the view I had from the hide window was straight into the sun.  I knew immediately it was going to be almost impossible to get any decent shots.

I spent about an hour here and chatted with a couple of people who popped in, including new voluntary warden Kev who also volunteers at the seal colony at Donna Nook near Mablethorpe. Kev told me he was originally from Leighton Buzzard before he moved to Lincolnshire and that the people up here are much friendlier than those down south.

We had plenty of close sightings including a male Marsh Harrier being mobbed by a Carrion Crow but the conditions were just not right for photographs.  Kev mentioned that he had walked round most of this part of the reserve and had seen the birds from a gate which was visible on the other side of the reedbed.  I decided that was a much better position for the light and I was soon walking around the reserve to get to it.

I followed the coastal path along the River Humber for a while before cutting across the reserve between pools. On the way there were a couple of hides which I'd not visited before, so I briefly popped into both of them, but there was nothing much of note about.

I got to the gate and indeed the light was much better here, but none of the birds were showing now.  As there was a convenient little place to park, I decided to walk back to the car and return here for another session in the hope that they would put in another appearance.

I did this but I didn't see the birds again, and so I decided to cut my losses and head off for Alkborough Flats, a twenty minute drive from here, to see if I could resurrect my luck here.

Part 1 - Red-necked Grebe in Lincolnshire

I set off early this morning to get to Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire before the sun had heated things up enough to create a haze.  My first target for the day was the Red-necked Grebe that's been reported at the Sailing Pits there.  I was very keen to photograph this bird as I'd only ever seen one once before on the River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh, when my views hadn't been the best.  There had also one showing very well recently in Bangor which I hadn't managed to get to see.  So this was probably going to be my best chance this year.

With great directions from Facebook buddy Paul Coombes, I arrived at the parking spot and had found the bird only a few minutes after looking on the water in the south-west corner of the pits.

I walked round to the south side where I met a couple of fishermen and chatted to them for a while as the bird was moving away from me and out into the middle of the water.  Both fishermen seemed quite interested and one of them knew about the bird being here, but didn't know which one it was, so I pointed it out.  His views were a bit distant though and he said he'd bring his binoculars next time he came.

I then set myself up on the boards of an unused fishing peg to get as low as possible and waited for the bird to turn round and come a bit closer.  It never really came close, so I have to be satisfied with these shots. A good start to the day.

I was also surprised to see a male Scaup on the water too, as this hadn't been reported as far as I know.  I found out later that this bird might be resident there now as it can't fly.

As I walked back to the car I first heard and then saw a male Blackcap singing in the woodland along the path, so I decided to try for a few shots.  I'm very pleased that I did as these are probably my best shots of the day.

I also spent a little time photographing this lovely little Long-tailed Tit as it fed on the insects it was collecting.