A project I have been looking to get cracking with for sometime was working with the Little Grebes on the river near the house, last summer and throughout the winter there has been quite a healthy population with pairs every 300-400 metre stretch along the bank. However a problem I have encountered in the past is that they seem to be easily the most spooked bird I have ever come across.
So finally on Easter Sunday I found some time to dedicate to a pair of Grebe that were starting to defend their territory. On a nice wide stretch of the River Test, it was a relatively bright morning and as I slowly made my way up the bank to a spot where the local Mute Swans haul themselves up out of the water on to the bank, here the foliage on the water edge was flattened nicely allowing me to rest my camera and beanbag in the small gap.
With the amount of rain which had fallen over the winter, water levels in the Test where at quite a high which was quite convenient for creating a very shallow depth of field due to the low angle of my positioning and the high water level. Having seen the Grebes at this spot quite a few times without managing any photographs, I was quite happy to see them further upstream at a safe enough distance not to disturb. So I led down on the bank and waited, letting the spring growth of the reed hide my form from the water.
Eventually one off the birds drifted out mid stream allowing me my first real close up view of this waterborne skulker, the red plumage on the back of its head glowing in the bright morning sunshine.
I tried to keep my lens movement to a minimum to avoid spooking the bird, and it seemed to work well as one bird was soon joined by its partner.
I was really happy with my 2 hour session on the river bank, and even the annoyance felt as a Kingfisher landed on a over hanging branch 20 yards downstream didn't distract me and my time with the Little Grebes. Plans where made at the time to visit them again when the green colouring of the spring foliage was present, and to this day I still haven't managed to wangle the time to visit them again. Although I am hoping now that they have bred successfully and have a small stripy brood following in their wake.
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