Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things are hotting up!

A visit to Westhay reserve showed that things are hotting up as the approaching Spring raises hormone levels in the residents - I am talking mainly about the birds here.

Take this serene looking Coot for example.

 It soon turned round and "sCooted" across the water to tackle a rival.

When it arrived, an almighty fight broke out with each bird leaning back in the water and engaging the other with its feet.

At one point, one of the birds was almost submerged but both eventually survived, to fight another day no doubt.

The Great Crested Grebes were also doing their famous courtship dance, crossing bills and offering each other bunches of weed. Unfortunately I do not yet have a photo of that. Obviously top of my list for the next visit.

Apart from the obvious mating shenanigans, the other inhabitants were going about their business as usual. This picture of a pair of Gadwall is interesting as much as anything for the colour and texture of the water. I am finding that I seek this more and more in my conventional bird portrait pictures.

Of course, Gadwall also make a fine sight in flight. In groups:

or singly

At this time of year, I am finding that I have to wait for longer and longer periods for anything to happen. I like this. I enjoy the long waits because it always feels like anything could happen. Patience is eventually rewarded on some occasions, not on others, and these birds eventually made an appearance. A female Marsh Harrier:

A Sparrowhawk:

and a Bittern:

These last two birds caught me completely by surprise. That is the drawback with the long idle periods, it is fatal to lose concentration and start fiddling with your camera or thinking about something else. The Bittern made itself known by a clattering exit from an innocent looking reed bed. I was looking at the Sparrohawk photos on the back of my camera, because that one had caught me napping too, and I had great difficulty drawing a bead on the accelerating Bittern. That is why the shot has caught it just going away. I always prefer an on-coming shot, but I need to be much quicker to sort myself out to catch these. Anyway, that is the challenge and the fun of it! 

Thank goodness too for the advanced technology of the latest cameras. I pretty much just threw my camera at the Sparrowhawk and the Bittern, it did pretty well in capturing a few shots without much help from me.

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