Thursday, 1 March 2012

Snettisham in winter - a cold, early start...

Back in February, I made the trip to the RSPB nature reserve at Snettisham, Norfolk, to see the wader spectacular.  This is when a spring tide forces the many thousands of waders, here on migration, towards the shoreline, offering twichers and photographers alike unprecedented views of their morning flights.

Leaving my bed at 5am was not my favourite part of the day by a long shot and, when we arrived, it was still very much dawn and was very cold to boot, at around -11.

Arriving early ensures you see the birds waking up, including the flocks of pink-footed geese flying from their night-time roosts in the Wash, to their sugar beet feeding grounds inland.  It also rewards you with, if you're luck's in, some gorgeous views of the sun rising.

As always, the pink-footed geese put on a spectacle...

... and on this particular day, there were plenty of other like-minded folk to watch.

Once the sun was well on its way, the waders awoke and began to perform for the crowds.  It's always such an amazing sight to see so many birds flying in formation, changing their shape in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, after only a couple of hours, fog began to roll in off the sea which essentially put an end to any landscape photography involving flying waders.  There were, however, snow buntings flitting around, which began to feed on the shoreline.  The change in subject prompted me to begin thinking more about the composition of the photo, rather than just focussing on the subject and snapping away.  I began experimenting by lying on the floor (in the snow) to be at their level, as well as using shallow depth of field.  I'm very pleased with the results and I will definitely continue to play around with this.

My wildlife spotter (aka, my girlfriend) managed to spot this red knot lying quietly next to the path.  I think it must have thought that it was well blended in to its background which, if it wasn't for the snow, it probably would have been.  I sat perfectly still, allowing me to take some shots.

On our way back to the car, by this stage dreaming of the warmth it offered, I spotted this female blackbird rooting around in the undergrowth.  Again, she was very calm and posed nicely for this photo.

After finishing at Snettisham, we drove to North Creake on the hunt for barn owls, as I'd kind of promised my girlfriend that we would find some.  Unfortunately, that didn't work out as planned, but we did see a few buzzards soaring overhead.

And finally we spotted a mistle thrush sitting quietly on a telephone line, a first time spot for me.

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