Down South - Part 2
With the first part of my plan successfully completed it was time to see if I could photograph the other intended new species in the shape of Sand Martins and Little Ringed Plover. From my web research I had found a nature reserve that could potentially offer both from different hides. Before I go somewhere new I always check where the sun is going to be with a very cool piece of free software called the 'Photographer Ephemeris' which overlays the sun's angle during a particular day on to a Google map. This informed me that it would be best to try the Sand Martins first due to the position of the hide.
I found myself outside the hide at 8:45am, which was due to open at 9am, waiting for someone to arrive to unlock the door. Stupidly I did not check the door which was already open but it gave me some time to watch numerous sand martins speeding round overhead. Once in the hide I decided it was not going to be possible to photograph the birds in flight through the restrictive opening due to their fast and erratic flight paths and so concentrated my efforts on a small branch in the water. The birds were frequently landing there to preen the sand out of their feathers, which accumulated as they made their way along the nest burrows.
A bird comes in to settle on the perch as another speeds past behind
My favourite photograph of my brief time with them was this bird coming in to land with its feet and leading wing edges covered in sand.
I could have quite happily sat there for several hours photographing these acrobatic birds but time was pressing and I had promised I would be at the cottage for 10:30am. I walked around to the next hide and had about 15 minutes left before I had to depart in which to try and photograph the scarce Little Ringed Plover. As I opened the hide flap I was greeted with a low gravel bank leading down to a huge lake with not a bird in sight to be seen. I spotted right across the lake a small white speck flying in the opposite direction which then circled round and flew straight back towards the hide. It kept coming and eventually a male Little Ringed Plover landed on the gravel right in front of me. I guess when your luck is working well such things happen.
A couple of minutes later and the female arrived with its less prominent black markings.
As I walked the short path back to cottage at 10:30am I wore a broad smile and reflected on what had been a memorable morning session where for once a plan had all come together perfectly.