Before I start on the subject of this post, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of things:-
Firstly: I made a bit of a mess of publishing my previous blog post by hitting the publish button by mistake when I'd only got as far as entering the title of the post. This resulted in the post being registered on the Blogger system with the original publication date, even though I quickly did a 'revert to draft'. It seems some people saw I'd 'published' but couldn't find the post, so gave up. It was nearly a week later that I finished and published the post. I got quite paranoid about the situation when, after several days, no one seemed to have spotted the post. I realise now that it was chronologically listed with the original date, and so well down the list as soon as published. If you missed it and want to have a look, you can find it here - I think it was possibly one of my better posts, photographically.
Secondly: under my banner heading you will now find a menu. This will take you to information about the illustrated talks I offer. If you know of an organisation that might be interested in me giving a talk, please let them, or me, know. Distance is no object but I would want my expenses covered. If you do take a look, you can get directly back to the main blog from the 'Home' button.
Now to the subject of the post:
For more than two weeks there had been reports of a Snow Bunting (originally two) on the dam at Rutland Water. As I had been lucky enough to see Snow Bunting in Scotland earlier this year, I did not feel the need to dash over there. However, I have only once before seen Snow Bunting in VC55 ('my county'), and that was on 13th November, 2011, at Longmoor Lake, so eventually I gave in and took a ride over to Rutland water on Saturday.
I arrived at Sykes Lane car park noting that the charge was £1.70 for up to one hour or £3.70 for up to three hours. I hastily made my way to the dam, having first set my camera up for the salient light conditions.
Almost immediately, I met a birder coming back over the dam who said he'd not seen the bunting and that the wind was blowing really strongly out on the dam, so he'd given up.
It was then that I made a mistake which would cost me dearly later. There was a Cormorant in the water, directly into the misty sun, and I drastically altered the settings on my camera in order to take some shots in those conditions.
|Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - Rutland Water|
By the time I'd got quarter of the way along the dam, I was starting to get worried. It was blowing a hoolie, and there was an endless stream of people walking, running, scooting, and cycling along the dam, many with children who seemed hell-bent on crossing the dam on top of the wall, rather than on the causeway.
I was about three quarters of the way across, and had almost resigned myself to missing the bird on this occasion, when it popped over the wall and landed about 15 feet (5 metres) in front of me. I dropped to my knees and started to take photos and it immediately ran towards me, ending up less than a metre from me!
At one point I noticed another birder about 100 metres away and spent around 10 minutes trying to indicate to him that I'd got the bird - eventually he noticed! All told I had almost exactly 20 minutes with the bunting, and fired off just over 400 frames, before departing in order to keep the car park charge down - yes, I'm tight fisted!
It wasn't until I got home that I realised what a pig's ear I'd made of the photography. The biggest problem was that I'd got an EV compensation of +0.7 dialled in, rather than the -0.3 which would have been more appropriate. The next problem was that the bird was so close that I'd pulled the zoom right back and the aperture had opened to f6 - at close range I really needed to close the aperture to give a greater depth of focus. Finally, because the bird was constantly running around and not stopping, and close, I've got too many shots with the bird badly framed for a decent composition, or even partly out of frame! From the over 400 frames I've kept just 18, all of which have required much post processing, and are now just about acceptable. Here are some of the better ones.
|Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) - Rutland Water|
Maybe I'll get another chance, and make a better job of it next time!
I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a peaceful 2019, filled with joy and wonderful wildlife experiences.
Thank you for dropping by.