I was up in Liverpool on the weekend doing the first reconnaissance for a series of walks along the Sefton Coast path. It’s an area I know well from birdwatching back in the 70’s and not much has changed really.
Another recent wader encountered whilst out with the geese was the ruff. Five birds spent a good half hour picking up the swan feed towards dusk and it was interesting to note the very different stages of plumage from wintering adults to juvenile birds. It’s the leg colour that varies more than anything and is pretty well emphasised in these images.
Back to Islay and the geese. The aim was to place them in a wider context and I was fortunate that the weather was with me (seems like it’s not been very good since then). The mornings were superb and straight out of the van I was able to work with a perfect backdrop and the geese coming over the waters of Loch Indal. Trying to work them together is not such an easy task, focusing is all against you and the focusing spot had to be continually adjusted.
It’s been the geese that have drawn me to various locations recently but there’s normally a trade off in the form of waders that frequent the same habitat. Here’s a few images of some of the waders I’ve encountered recently whilst following the geese.
The last post from the Mersey looked mainly at the physical power of the water as the high tide reached its peak, but I was very much aware of a developing narrative that involved not just the waves and surges but people and the wider context in which I was experiencing the event.
Over last weekend I was up at Martin Mere again and continuing my work on the swan and geese project. The whoopers can be quite aggressive to each other and to anything that gets in their way as the images with the mallard show here. It lunged towards the unsuspecting duck, twirled it round for a few ‘spins’ before the mallard escaped its attentions.
It seems as if the worst of the last storm was felt very close to home on the south Wales coast of Porthcawl and the west coast of Aberystwyth, both featuring on the national news. I was away at the time but was aware of the conditions that had been forecast close to my family home a couple of miles from the Mersey estuary in Liverpool.
Second day in the hide – 500 avocets, black and bar-tailed godwits and dunlin – the hide tide had pushed them all onto the Bowling Green Marsh on the Exe estuary. I was in the hide early enough to watch the avocets arrive, they came in three pulses.
Islay’s about the perfect destination in winter if you love both geese and a good malt. For such a small island it has a wealth of fine distilleries and they are wonderfully located. Eight distilleries in such a compact area all responding to the natural characteristics of the island.
More to come from Islay later but I managed a few of days down on the Exe estuary last week, again in search of getting some images of geese, dark-bellied brent this time from arctic Russia, in the context of the estuary. It was also an opportunity to witness a spectacle that has to be one of the finest in Britain, the population of avocets that flock in large numbers to this part of the world during the winter.
I’ve never seen lesser white-fronted geese in the wild or red-breasted geese but you have a chance to get close in and personal with them, and other more common British species, at the WWT centres.