15 March 2014 Woolston Eyes

16th March 2014
I've been to Woolston Eyes NR a couple of times in recent weeks and an incredible amount of work has been carried out on No3 Bed to improve the habitat. A lot of the reed beds has been moved and new channels have appeared, the scrape in front of the John Morgan hide has been improved and bares no resemblance to last year.

Scrape in front of Morgan Hide

View from screen by Hogg Hide

Hopefully this will encourage more waders and perhaps even the elusive bittern!!

My first visit of the year was a couple of weeks back to see the Starling roost which was spectacular, probably in the region of 150,000 birds entertained those present for the best part of an hour. At time the sky was black with Starlings and the sound of 300,000 wings beating in unison as they flew overhead was quite amazing. We didn't see any raptors flying in to break the flock up and cause mayhem but the sight and the patterns produced in the sky was stunning. It did help that it was a pleasant evening and the light was also wonderful.

Shelduck in the last light of the day

First few birds

Building up

and there's more!

Monochrome representation - not sure if it improves it

Starling wave

bunching up

down to roost

As a photographer you have to decide how best to display your shots and in this case, I could have lightened the sky but I have left it dark as it was dusk. For the last few shots I kept the shutter speed slow to try and exaggerate the movement of the birds. Personally I think its worked but may be others would think not.

I visited again on Saturday with no particular images in mind but I was lucky enough to to learn that four Black-necked Grebes were present and one pair displaying.

It's never easy to to get good photographs at Woolston but you have to have a go and on this occasion the results were reasonable even though the birds were quite some distance away and the photos did require some very heavy cropping. For those interested I was using a Canon 5D Mk3, 500mm lens and 1.4x converter; I also used live view to help with focusing.

Black-necked Grebe displaying

Black-necked Grebe on north pool from Rotary Hide

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

Black-headed gull from John morgan Hide

Black-necked Grebe on north pool from Rotary Hide

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