28 April 12 - Woolston Eyes

30th April 2012
It has been a couple of weeks since I last visited “The Eyes” so a visit was overdue.
However when I reached the parking area a Minibus was evident suggesting a visiting group of birders!

Sure enough after I crossed the footbridge, it wasn’t a host of golden daffodils that I found but rather a large group of people; so I wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud on Saturday!

I managed to overtake them and get to the centre hide before them, I thought about setting up the tripod but with 20+ people in the hide it may have caused a SHE issue so I quickly discarded that idea.

During the Black-necked Grebe season I always visit with the hope that I’ll get my best ever photograph of one of them. However in the back of my mind I know that it will probably never happen but you have to be in it to win it as they say!

So with everything conspiring against good photography it didn’t stop me trying and pressing the shutter button when I knew I was wasting my time.

So as usual the sight of a Black-necked Grebe encouraged me to commit one of the common errors; the subject too distant. See Black-necked Grebe photo below after some very tight cropping on the computer.

Black-necked Grebe

I’ve got to say I do see an awful lot of people taking photos from the hides at Woolston Eyes with short focal length lenses and I often think that they are going to be awfully disappointed when they download the files to their computer!

Of course I don’t know what they are actually taking photos of or what their intentions are but usually it’s some distant bird. Even if the intention is to show the subject in its environment I believe they would be very lucky if the subject could be seen in the view.

Canada Geese and six young

While I was in the hide I saw four or five Black-necked Grebe, around 8 Canada Geese and a pair with 6 young, 1 Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Shellduck, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant and one male Ruddy Duck (not many of those around now).

Part of the Black Headed Gull Colony that breed on No.3 bed

I didn't see a Heron fly in or any Raptors but something put the gulls up.

A Lapwing also put in appearance and there were plenty of Swallows, Swifts and Sand Martins over the water. The gulls on show were Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gull I did look earnestly for the Little Gull that had been there earlier in the week and I always have a look for Mediterranean Gulls but neither species were around. A single Pied Wagtail also landed at the edge of the pool but it didn’t face the right way.

Pied Wagtail

Of the other photographs I took, the Gadwall is hopefully the best as it came closest to the hide and it also remained reasonably still.


The Cormorant photograph isn’t too bad even though it was some distance away and it has been cropped quite tightly. It is however a much larger bird than the Black-necked Grebe and it doesn’t have to be cropped as much to appear large in the frame.


On the walk back to the car park I noticed a Ladybird that I tried to photograph with the Macro lens. As I continued my walk back to the car I became aware of 1000’s of large black flies that were on the vegetation. The Ladybird photograph isn't too bad but the fly could be better.

7-Spot Ladybird

St Marks Fly (Bibio marci)

Thanks to Alan Patterson (Woolston Eyes Warden) who identified the fly for me and who also told me why how it got the name.
Fact - The name comes from the fact that this species is often on the wing in large numbers around April 25th, St Mark's Day.

Who needs a calendar when you have nature to give you a date!

I was supposed to be going to our new hide on Sunday morning with Neill but to use a well known cricketing term it was definitely a case of rain stopped play.

I’ve seen a few photos taken from the hide that Neill’s posted on Bridguides and they’ve been good.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get there sometime this week, god willing and a fair wind; having said that it does look like the whole of next weekend is going to be taken up with things other than photography.



Photo comment By Alan Patterson: Hi Andy I am fairly sure its a St Marks Fly. Must own up I only know that cos I saw loads the other week and I looked it up. The name is because they hatch out on or near ST Marks Day! We have updated our WECG web site as you may know and we will be putting a list of group visits on it. You mention people taking photos with small cameras, I have got the Cannon SX30IS bridge camera with a 35x optical zoom and recently took a photo of a Black Tern, my photo came out about as good as a shot taken by a chap with a Cannon D7 with 400mm f5.6 lens and a 1.4 convertor, which realy surprised me! My photo is on our web site, but no were near your quality but I was pleased as it was at the back of the pool. The Cannon D7 photo is possibly going on as a comparrison. Cheers Alan Patterson ( WECG Warden)

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