A reasonable weather forecast today so a visit to Waters Edge Country Park, Barton-upon- Humber, and Bonby and Worlaby carrs, North Lincolnshire. A fine and sunny start to the day, with almost cloudless skies as I made the short journey to Waters Edge Country Park. The main reason for visiting Waters Edge was to try for some in flight shots of ducks and geese. Waters Edge is a great place for in flight shots, although it can be a bit limiting species wise. There is a board walk that goes across the corner of one of the main lakes, and it is so positioned that it's possible to stand in the right position for the light from dawn until dusk.
I arrived at Waters Edge about 09:00, as said there was barely a cloud in the sky, great conditions for in flight shooting. You need good light for in flight shots to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. I decided to use the Canon 400mm F5.6L lens as the birds generally come close enough for this lens. I can manage to hand hold the 500mm for in flight work but it's much easier on the arms and back to use the lighter 400mm.
I made the short walk from the car park to the board walk area. There were about a dozen Black-headed gulls sat on the board walk hand rails but they flew off before I got within camera range. I thought they might hang around for a few in flight shots but they didn't. There were the usual Mallard, Coot, Tufted duck, Moorhen and a couple of Pochard on the lake. It's a waste of time and energy walking around the lake as the board walk is perfectly positioned to catch anything in flight. I just stand there and wait for something to fly past and hope I have got the camera settings right for the subject as it flies by.
It wasn't long before a male Mallard was spotted in coming. The secret to catching them is seeing them early, which in turn gives you that few seconds to get the camera settings right and find them in the view finder. True to my luck the sun was just starting to disappear behind the only cloud in the sky. Lol. So, although I got it in focus the light on it wasn't quite as good as I would have liked.
It was a while before anything else came in or took off. Patience is something you need in large doses here as well. It can sometimes be a long while between shots, but on the other hand it can get quite manic at times with several birds either coming in or departing the lake at the same time. A Cormorant and a Grey heron flew past, but well out of range of the 4000mm lens and even the 500mm lens. I heard the familiar call of Canada geese and spotted a flock coming in to land. Unfortunately they came in at a very awkward angle and I had to shoot straight into the sun which is never good. They then banked steeply and by the time they were in a better position sun wise they were behind the island on the lake so I didn't get a single shot worth keeping. My luck running true to form again Lol.
The pair of Pochard that were on the lake when I arrived took flight but I was far too late in seeing them take off to get photos. Not lack of luck this time, just me not being alert enough. The next subject was a female mallard. I managed to get locked on to her and caught her just before she hit the water.
It was now 10:30 and the cloud had really bubbled up with there being more cloudy spells than sunny ones, so I decided to move on to Bonby carrs. Bonby is only a fifteen minute drive at most from Waters Edge. I had seen a couple of photographs of a Whinchat at Bonby that had been posted on the internet, so I had hopes it might still be around. From previous experience of Bonby carrs I knew I would have to use the Canon 500mm lens plus the 1.4 extender. This gives a focal length of 700mm. At Bonby carrs you have to stay in your car and shoot with the car window down and a bean bag on the car door. My luck changed, I very quickly located the Whinchat and it was fairly accommodating. There were times when the long grass and reeds got in the way but as with most things patience paid off and I got many shots of this bird when it moved to more favourable perches.
I spent about an hour watching and photographing this bird which I believe is a juvenile. There were a couple of Little Egret's on the carrs but they never came remotely within camera range, even with the 700mm I had at my disposal. I also saw a Reed Bunting,Yellowhammer and a Yellow wagtail but no photographs were possible. After eating my lunch I moved on to Worlaby carrs. Again like Bonby it's a case of sitting in the car and shooting off the car door with a bean bag. Not a lot to say about Worlably because apart from a couple of Wood Pigeons and a Kestrel hovering well out of range of the camera I saw nothing. I only stayed at Worlaby about forty five minutes before making my way home.
Not a great variety of birds today but I was well pleased with the shots I managed. It's been a good few months since I used the 500mm and 1.4 extender and it's always good to get a few shots you are really pleased with under your belt to boost the confidence in your own ability. I finish this post with another shot of the Whinchat on a more natural looking perch.