Thursday, 9 January 2014

Goosander and Black Throated Diver on Cleethorpes Country Park.

Normally I am not one for chasing rarities but when one, and in this case two, are on your doorstep, it would be rude not to.  I have known for a couple of days that there was a goosander and a black throated diver on the lake at Cleethorpes Country park, but until yesterday I had not been able to get down.  Fortunately the day dawned mild and sunny and it was with pleasurable anticipation that I made my way down there.  I walked around the lake until I spotted the goosander and then headed towards it.  I was not on my own as there were several other birdwatchers and photographers in attendance.  The goosander, a female, proved cooperative in the extreme and, although I kept it on, I could have managed without my 1.4 converter.  Although it was easy to see, the main problem was to get pictures of the bird actually doing something other than sleeping.  Fortunately it did occasionally wake up, stretch and preen.  The diver appeared to be settled in the middle of the lake too far away for photography so I wandered around to the side of the lake nearest to it.  Suddenly, after half an hour or so, it surfaced close to the shore and allowed excellent views and photography opportunities.  The light was absolutely perfect, coming from behind and to the side and lighting up the water beautifully.  In a woodland situation I usually prefer bright overcast when the cloud acts as a giant soft box, as full sun can be too harsh and contrasty and produce unpleasant deep shadow or a shadow across the bird.  In a lake situation, however, overcast conditions produce a lot of reflection off the water causing unpleasant glare and an underexposed bird lacking in saturation.  Other birds present this morning included tufted duck, pochard, mallard, various gulls, magpie and kingfisher.

From the Country Park I decided to go to my feeding station at the woodyard, calling first at the office for a cup of tea with John and to pick up the keys.  Although remaining very pleasant the sunlight became a touch more hazy, perfect for the woodland photography.  In fact it was positively springlike and snowdrops and daffodils were well up and hazel catkins full out.  It's difficult to believe ti is only January and the rest of the country is suffering extreme weather conditions.  There was plenty of activity and visitors included a party of long tailed tits, robins, dunnock, blue and great tits and goldfinch.

All photographs were taken with a canon 7D and a 500mm lens.  For the more distant shots at the Country Park I added a 1.4 converter but the feeding station is set up for the 500 without the converter.  I selected an ISO to give a shutter speed fast enough to stop movement and to keep the birds sharp.

To view large, click on an image.

Black Throated Diver
Black Throated Diver
Long Tailed Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit

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