I was off work last week using up some remaining annual leave before the end of the year and decided to try and get a bit of photography done during my break. I had been scanning through the bird reports the previous week to try and decide where to head for. On the Monday morning I rolled out of bed at my usual time but instead of heading to the office took the more enjoyable short journey northward to Fleetwood with my friend Steve to try and find a young Great Northern Diver that had taken up temporary residence on the marine lake. Before my trip I checked on Google maps and the lake looked a much better prospect than the local marine lake, where I have photographed this species previously, due to its smaller area.
On arrival, on what was a bitterly cold day, the bird was quickly located feeding in the centre and slowly making its way to the north western corner. This looked a good area to start as there was a high bank behind that would provide some cover. My normal approach with these diving water birds is to move in to position while they are underwater.
The bird got closer as I sat and waited quietly with a biting wind in my face.
It is always difficult to predict where these birds will surface and sometimes they will travel long distances underwater. Fortunately the bird popped up right in front of me at very close range just as the sun broke through the fast moving clouds overhead. Unfortunately my friend Steve was checking the adjacent lake for Mergansers and Goldeneye and missed out on the action.
The bird came so close at one point that I was reduced to just taking a head shot as that was all I could fit in the frame. A real pleasure to be in such close proximity to a magnificent bird. The bird continued its hunt for food and on its next dive reappeared at distance. It was a good while before the bird came in close again but by now the light had taken a distinct turn for the worse, giving the bird quite a different appearance under the overcast skies.
Once again I had the joy of another very close encounter.
We decided that the light really was not going to make much of an improvement and decided to head southwards towards Preston where the light looked better. Typically as we arrived at Preston a dense cloud layer covered the sky so we just decided to check out a couple of sites for a potential future visit. The first of these was an area where a large flock of waxwings had been reported for several days but had obviously decided to move on as not a single bird could be found. So we head down towards Preston Dock where an Iceland Gull had been reported. As we came to stop in the car park at the dock edge we were faced with hundreds of gulls swirling around to feed on bread thrown to them by visitors. It seemed like trying to find the proverbial haystack needle until I spotted the gull gently bobbing in the dock below directly in front of the car. I decided to take a couple of photos in the gloom but was not particularly happy with the elevated angle above the gull.
After a few minutes the bird came up and landed in the carp park behind the docks perimeter railing so despite trying various angles all that could be managed was a head photo of this scarce gull.
I would like to head back up there to try and get some flight photos of this bird in better light but whether I will get round to it is another matter. An enjoyable way to start my mini break which was spent in the good company with these northern visitors.