On a recent visit to Ogmore estuary I came across a Grey Phalarope, it’s the second time I’ve seen them at this spot. It’s a delight to come across such a delicate and confiding bird and then to spend two or three hours working with it.
It was August of last year when I first photographed the Phalarope at Ogmore but on that occasion the birds were either spinning in the water or flying back and forth along the estuary. The next post looks at these slender necked shorebirds in flight, from the series last year.
This particular bird simply had no fear of humans. Lying flat on the mud as it fed along the shore line at a fairly rapid pace it would come to within inches of me. The video here, taken with the G10 with the wide angle, gives some sense as to the tameness of the bird. It was possible to walk 30 or 40 yards past as it continued to feed and then position yourself low in the mud and wait for it to pass. It also shows the context from which the images were taken.
I was working with the 5oo mm most of the time and it would soon go well beyond the minimum focusing distance. It was all about getting something that began to go beyond just another record shot; looking at where the bird was foraging and the foreground and background that would present itself at different locations; hoping that it would perhaps preen, it didn’t, or take on some posture that would state something about the real character of the bird.
The splashes of colour generated by fallen leaves pushed up on the tide line is something I was acutely aware of when constructing the images. With the almost monochromatic plumage of the Phalarope the touch of colour adds a lot to the image.
With it being so ‘co-operative’ it was also a chance to work with the compact camera at close quarters and so get some images that really placed it within the context of a river mouth.
I’ll never chase species, it’s not about collecting ticks. It’s interesting to know what’s around but not go hunting. I’d rather spend an hour or so alone with a Dunlin and work with it until something approaching the eloquent happens than photograph a mega rarity that has been hounded by countless others. The photography leads all I do, along with a respect for a sense of place and the birds’s welfare and I’ve yet to get a stunning photograph of a House Sparrow!