Thursday, 8 January 2015

Little Grebes - Spring/Summer 2014

I am quite a fan of photographing wildlife on my own patch, I am not sure whether it’s the fact that I know no one else is going to interrupt me when I am out, or the fact that it’s only me that’s going to see birds or mammals in that particular place. I guess that makes me quite selfish, but without the lack of foot traffic and all round quietness of the stretch of River Test that runs through the village I doubt I would stand any chance of photographing the resident Little Grebes.

A naturally shy bird, more often than not they dive underwater at the first sign of any approach, surfacing in the shady camouflaged safety of the river bank edge and its reed fringe. The river isn’t very wide in this particular spot so when the birds are mid stream they are only 20-25ft away from the bank which does allow the opportunity for some frame filling photographs. I’ve found by positioning myself led prone on the edge of the bank, stationed downstream from the resident pair, sooner or later they will swim on down, whether to fish or to defend their territory.

This summer was a strange one; I spent a few hours watching the birds around the nest, careful not to disturb them in the hope of a seeing a stripy plumaged chick, alas I had no luck. Whether the rumour of several Mink sightings on this stretch of water had caused enough disturbances to prevent a hatch I cannot be sure, as I never actually saw the Mink myself. The one thing I did notice every time I watched them was that the pair would swap places regularly on the nest, the bird sitting taking time to cover the eggs over and departing for a few minutes before the other bird would take over. Did this have a consequence for the un-hatched young? A conundrum that baffled me on each visit.

As you can see in a prone position with very slow movements the birds allow some great views, here is to hoping for a big brood of young Dabchicks in 2015.

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