Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sawbills are such wonderful looking birds and a great site as they feed in a team working their way up a lake. We have three species in the UK, the goosander, the red-breasted merganser and the smew. All are very attractive birds to photograph. Smew are generally very thin on the ground especially in my local area and in fact the only ones I have seen have been captive birds in waterfowl collections. The other two birds are notoriously tricky to get close. There are a few red-breasted merganser on the local marine lake each winter which is not an easy place to photograph them as it is a relatively large lake and they are happy to sit out in the middle way beyond camera range. Occasionally you get lucky.

Two females surface after a dive
They are always quite scruffy looking birds with their wayward head feathers but the male was looking particularly smart on this occasion with prime condition plumage. The black head that changes to green as the head moves is difficult to expose properly with the camera especially when combined with the white feathers. Moving on too goosanders, which are a new species for me to photograph. I took a trip over to North Wales specifically to photograph these birds. It is always such a joy when you head out for a particular species, especially a new one, and come home with some results.

The rust red head of a female goosander
The males are a stunning bird but again a very tricky exposure.
and that characteristic male posture display with beak pointing skyward.


Little Brown Job said...

Great shots as ever, love the morning hair style on the Red-Breasted Merganser.


T and S said...

WOW...stunning series of images. Sharp details, gorgeous bokeh and awesome colors. Thanks for sharing

The Early Birder said...

Thanks for making my day Richard. I tried but failed miserably to get close enough to RBM's earlier this year.
'White Nuns' are my favourite but like you sightings this winter have been very thin - nothing locally but I live in hope.
Cheers Frank.

Rich Steel said...

Many thanks for your comments. Frank I'm glad I have made someone happy. Red breasted merganser are not easy birds to approach and it takes time and also a good dose of luck to get close in on these birds.




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