On Thursday the 21st March 2013 my good friend David and I took a trip to Rufford Park in Nottinghamshire. The main purpose was to try and get photographs of the Great crested grebes that are usually present in the park. We were hoping for shots of the Grebes displaying to each other in their courtship rituals. The weather forecast was for good sunny periods for the Rufford Park area. What a joke that was. We left home at 06:30 in clear skies with the sun just rising. It stayed this way until we reached Retford, then you guessed, the sun was replaced by cloud and murk never to be seen again until we hit Retford on the return journey. How weather forecasters can get it so wrong is beyond me.
About five miles before we reached Rufford we came upon a road closure. The main road we would normally have travelled on was shut. There were warnings before we reached the closure but no real diversion signs pointing which way to go, just bollards and a barrier across the road. We took the route that we thought would bring us back on track and it eventually did after a longish detour through a couple of villages. On arrival at Rufford we soon had the gear out and set off in search of the grebes on the lakes. We did see a couple but they were fairly distant and definitely not in the mood for courtship displays. Mind you, can't say as I blamed them as it was very cold and overcast.
We soon decided we would have to settle for taking photographs of the Nuthatches and other small birds. We had come prepared for this if the grebes weren't showing. Very soon we had the Nuthatches and tits coming to take our seed. We were using the Canon 500mm F4 lenses but we still had to use a higher ISO setting than we would have preferred to get any sort of a shutter speed in the poor lighting conditions.
Nuthatch in a typical nuthatch pose
As the morning went by it got duller rather than brighter and we got colder, and it was very tempting at times to call it a day. If it wasn't for the fact that we had travelled forty odd miles to get there we most likely would have called it a day. When the conditions are as dull as it was today you don't get the catch light in the birds eye and the photos always look a little on the flat side. The resident Grey squirrel's were only too keen to get a share of the food and were a nuisance at times as they were forever in the frame pinching the seed rather than the birds getting it. However they are pretty photogenic creatures and I'm not one to turn down an opportunity of a decent photograph of one.
By 12:00 we were more than ready for a hot meal. We had decided before we set off that we would eat at the Big fish restaurant which is only a couple of miles down the road from Rufford. An excellent fish and chip meal is served here at a reasonable price. It was good to get inside in the warm and get some hot food and drink. After a great lunch the sky was still overcast and it didn't look like clearing at all so we made our way home. It was pointless going back to Rufford as we had as many dull weather shots as we needed. The detour around the road closure was rather better sign posted for the return journey although it still took us a long way out of our way to get back on track for home.
An earlier finish than we had anticipated but despite the lack of sunshine and no grebe photographs I still enjoyed the day. We contacted our wives before we set off for home and were informed the sun had shone just about all day at home which was fairly typical of the luck we had today. As said earlier, on reaching Retford on the return journey the sun broke through. I finish this post with another Nuthatch shot, this time one with a nut in the beak.
Nuthatch with peanut