Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 23/10/2011

Chinese Water, Dear?


Day One of what promises to be a photo packed week (I’m not including yesterday’s football photo session, despite how much fun it was), and the signs for today are quite promising. We heading down the M4 motorway (freeway/autostrada/autoroute) bound for the inner region of London Town (small place, you may have heard of it, quite quaint in it’s own way) and the urban wildlife oasis that is WWT Barnes. The sun is in the sky (as it usually is during the day (unless you’re very far north or very far south of course – we’re not, so the Sun is in the sky at this time of year)), there is a light cloud covering (please, please, please, please let it stay that way… pretty please with sugar on) and a boot (trunk) full of camera gear so I have high hopes for today.

WWT are running a competition until the 30th of November at each of their centres and I already have one image lined up for the Arundel competition and hope to get some good autumnal images from Barnes today. Now you’ve probably experienced the same type of effect in a different discipline to photography, that when all the planets seemed to be aligned so that it seems inevitable that you will achieve your goals nothing seems to happen. I’m not concerned about rusty photographic skills, what with the trip to Arundel recently as well as yesterday’s football match click-fest – it’s more whether I feel inspired in any way. Tsk, that’s the problem with us Artistes… flouncing around trying to create Art (cue the sound of John Walters ringing his bell).

Phew, that was a great day but i was worried for a while that I wouldn’t have any photos to show for my efforts. The morning was spent walking around the captive areas of the site, with a slight detour into an area designated “The Wild Side”. As I mentioned, the lighting was absolutely perfect and I had an photograph in mind that I wanted to take. Whilst visiting Arundel Wetlands Centre, we happened upon a Little Grebe whilst taking a tour of one section of the wetlands on a boat; unfortunately I was using the 600mm lens and the bird was just within the minimum focal distance and so the images whilst perfectly exposed as well as composed, were not in focus – it was this shot I wanted to try and recreate at Barnes.

The centre does play hosts to these lovely little birds, and there is one area I know I can find them and which provides the type of setting I’m looking for to create the image I had in mind. Unfortunately the Dab Chicks hadn’t received the memo I’d sent them requesting their presence on the required waterways – I don’t think I’ve ever been to Barnes and not seen them in the Wild Side section. To add insult to injury, the greatest number of Little Grebes were in all other section of the Wetlands Centre, I lost count around 17 of these diminutive bird – I’ve never seen that many there before.

It was, once again, only in the last hour that I started to get the type images I think are half way decent (I’m not saying their indecent – I mean they may be good enough to put onto flickr rather than consign to the Trash Folder). I spent half an hour photographing the White Headed Ducks, Red Crested Pochards, and Ferruginous Ducks. By chance, having given up hope of any more photos we had one last looks at the Mandarin Duck section, and unlike earlier all the birds were out and looking fantastic. Snap Snap – in the end I took nearly 1500 photos. If the rest of the week continues on like this then I’m going to have to give over November and December just reviewing all the photos!

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