Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Sunday, 11 October 2009

A catalogue of errors……..

There’d been reports of a fairly large flock of Golden Plover at Tring Reservoirs recently, so today I paid an early morning visit. It’s not far from me, been there before, and I’ve never seen Golden Plovers before, so………..

The weather could have been better. It could have been much better. Dull, cloudy, and a light intermittent drizzle. Not very good for pictures, most definitely. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the car park ticket machine has been fixed, so in went all the change I had in my pocket. Didn’t fancy the £60 fine.

So I’m wandering round the reservoirs and it suddenly dawned on me; wrong one!
Wilstone Reservoir had the sightings. That’s just up the road, on its own, and it’s free to park. Bugger!!

Back in the car, and off I went. I climbed the steps from the small car park, and had a choice. Turn left, or turn right. I turned right, towards the hide, and the mud area favoured by the waders. A Little Egret was up ahead, leant forward, and took off. I swung the camera up, and fired off some shots. Then realised I was set on manual from the previous day, and a little under exposed. Oh……….

Now, I could argue I went for an arty shot, but that would be telling fibs. This is the best that could be rescued. Normally would have been deleted, but I like it; a little.
So, onward to the hide, sat down, and…..nothing. No Plovers anyway. An immature Pheasant was strolling around, so after checking the exposure, I took some shots.
Focused on the body. Head is soft. Never mind, I like Pheasants. I scanned the water, and saw the Plovers. The other side of the reservoir; and through the binoculars, I could see a couple of people looking at them.
I walked round to the other side.
As I walked along the edge, a bird took off from my side, and flew into some trees.
Did you see that?” said the mans voice, standing just along the path with a small movie camera.
Only it’s bum.” I said. “What was it?”
Wheatear. Been filming it.”
I was pleased I hadn’t spoilt his filming; at least he had a record of it. All I had was a glimpse of a birds bum as it disappeared in the trees; I’m still counting that one though.
I carried on towards the Golden Plovers, and as I got near, they all took to the air, circling high. Bugger!!
I stopped and chatted to the couple that had been watching them, and we watched as they circled overhead, and then went in the direction I’d just come from. And settled on the mud.
If I said I didn’t swear, I’d be lying.
I swore.
I walked back, still cursing under my breath. What was going wrong today? Apart from everything?
I got level with my quarry, eventually, and even though they were a long way off, I took some pictures, before they decided to go again.
Well, at least I know what they are! I counted a hundred, at least. I tried cropping the pictures later at home, and this is one.
Bin fodder really, but till I get better ones, they languish on the hard drive.
Then they were off again. Did I swear? Course I did.
So what else could possibly go wrong now?
A Heron sat perched in a tree, and mustering up my best stalking skills, I slowly approached, camera at the ready. He leaned forward, and I fired off some shots.
I learnt a long while ago, that composition of a picture was quite important. If something is looking left or right, (or flying in this case), have some space for it to go.
Not enough space for him to fly into, oh well. And the last one?
Well as I expertly panned with him, I didn’t notice the bush next to me, that carefully blurred his face.

Or that I had clipped his wing!
Yea, I swore!

Had a good day though.


  1. The heron shots are great, Keith. I can't believe how sharp everything is when he was moving so fast. You can almost count the feathers. I wish my bad days were that good. ;-)


  2. WEll done Keith. Got the Golden Plover tick after all. No one said it was easy...

  3. Someone might say "P**s Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance". (Try that after a jug or two!) The consolation is that you got to see the Golden Plovers at last. FAB

  4. Oh dear! That is exactly the sort of day I had recently, we went back to Draycote, I thought I had a female Lesser Scaup and it turned out to be a Tufted Duck with a pronounced white face shield! I got a Rock Pipit (I think) but the light was so bad that the focus is awful and I turned my ankle and am hobbling around now!!

    Your account of it all is very amusing though!

  5. LOL - oh I am so sorry you didn't have the best time...but your post was hilarious. Especially the part about the birds going over to where you were (ROFL) and the bird's bum!

    As for your photos, to me, they look excellent. Really they do. :) I really like the heron ones.

  6. ...Keith.....oh no! It seems you really did have a comedy of errors, but that Little Egret shot is cool. I love it...and....artsy shots are always accidental for me, and it's very artsy! (Now I can't wait to read the Robin post from yesterday.)

  7. Thanks Wilma. Even bad days can produce something, sometimes, I guess.

    Trevor, thank you. Very pleased to see the Golden Plover at last. I’ll never forget the first time now. lol

    Cheers Frank. That quote sums it all up nicely lol

    ShySongbird, thank you. Days like that make birdwatching memorable; if not a bit frustrating at times. Sitting here this morning before I head off for work, the sun is shining in a clear blue sky. A little ‘swear’ passed my lips lol

    Jen, thank you for your comment. I think it’s only right to share some of the ‘off’ days. :)
    Mistakes are good learning tools; hopefully.

    Thanks Kelly. The days end had its rewards. I got two more ticks for the year, and I was out in the fresh air. That’s what makes it all so special for me. :)

  8. Oh your day sounds so familiar Keith. But at least you got out rather than avoiding the greyness and languishing and home. And I like arty Little Egret shots. And you got to see the Plovers....:)

  9. Hi Keith,
    Sorry but this time it is my turn to laugh. I guess you did that with some of my story... So I did this time!! Well, you know it took me a complete year to get nice shots of golden plover. I had to learn their behavior here and the places they like and so on... And even then, most of the time I've to crawl on the ground for 20-30m to get close to them!!
    But, heye, come on, at least you saw them... So I can see you are getting some of our birds. while we are getting some of yours... I was sure this hurricane we got was not only a negative thing!!

  10. LOL...I enjoyed this look into the horrors of wildlife photography that we can all laugh at. I have so many photos of deer so well camoflauged that you cant see them even tho there are right THERE!..and the one I took recently of a wild burro in AZ, just as I clicked the shutter he stuck his head behind a juniper limb! GRR...even tho you had a trying day you still came back with the goods...I love the action shots..missing wing tip and all! Better luck next time with the Plover,,,,I know you wont give up easily!

  11. Golden Plover are always nice to see, I like the Egret shot too, good sence of action with it, nice when that happens :)

  12. Thanks Tricia. Yea, despite the weather, I was determined to see the Golden Plovers, even though they did give me the run around.

    Chris, thanks. Sometimes the day doesn’t always go as hoped; but then that’s the fun of it all. Next time I’ll get some closer shots, I hope. I’m looking forward to the autumn visitors; never know what might turn up.

    Thanks Dixxe. I think the little challenges make it all worthwhile. I get loads of ‘nearly’ and ‘almost’ shots when I go out. Some days that’s all I do get lol
    Still trying for a shot of the Cetti’s Warbler. It’s been almost a year now. He can’t hide forever :)

    Mike, thanks for your comment. I’m beginning to warm to the Little Egret shot, even though it wasn’t quite how I was hoping it would turn out. lol

  13. I know all about your frustration with animals moving just as you take the shot. Herons are esp. hard to photograph, but I like the shots you did get!

  14. Thank you for your comment Squirrel.
    Agree about the Herons. They can be very frustrating some times.

  15. As for camera settings - been there, done that, got the T shirt ;) With me it's usually ISO settings if I finish a dull day with a hight setting.

    As for framing. I know that I tend to 'get in close' with a high zoom and that sometimes leaves little space in the frame to take movement into account. It is surprising just how much there is to think about which is difficult when you have a few short seconds at the most for many shots.

    Love the Heron photos and the pheasant does look strange with its grey neck.

  16. So ... you had a very "lucky" day :D. It happens sometimes ... the rule is when something begins wrong, it won't be better :D

  17. Hmmmm I always marvel at what you call bin fodder!! I adore the first one! The last one I guess I would have cropped it down for a macro of that amazing wing..but that's me. I like to crop. That my bin fodder were this delightful. It is a fun idea though..hmmmm will go digging in my bin. Have a great day hon, Sarah

  18. Great chase for birds...
    You have got those cool shots...Great jobe done!

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Hi Keith, great images once again.
    love your flight shots.
    As you know i digiscope,so flight shots are out of my reach.
    Also i would like to thank you for your comments on our Blog.

  20. That's the one thing about photography. We are always looking, needing that shot. There are time when I just have to go without the camera so I can enjoy but then I feel kinda guilty-ish that I might run across something I could have taken a nice shot of. I've said it before...can't get the birdies in the lens with my limited equipment. So I just wait for those of you who do to share. Thanks!! I enjoyed them all.

  21. Thanks for your comment John. Some days it all seems to fall into place naturally, and other times it just seems to go from bad to worse lol
    I don’t think I’d want it any other way though. Always another day, hopefully.

    Thanks Andor. Yea, when it’s good, it’s good, and when it’s bad; it’s frustrating.

    Sarah, thanks for your kind words.
    I guess at times I’m my own worse critic, and too hasty with the ‘delete’ button.

    Sharodindu thank you for stopping by and commenting. Appreciate it. The chase kept me fit if nothing else lol

    Thanks John. Digiscoping is something I’d love to try one day.

    Andrea, thanks for your comment. When I’m out watching the birds, I quite often miss shots; too busy just watching.

  22. Yep, I get those days as well Keith.
    Golden PLover have this nasty habit of taking off every two minutes and landing a little further away.

  23. Stop reading my blog Keith. Tis a normal day for me. I'm afraid to admit I would be proud of these shots. Hope it's not infectious, all the best.

  24. Thanks Roy. Didn't know that about the Golden Plover, but I certainly found out that morning.

    Cheers Adrian. Hopefully next time I'm out, it will be better ;)

  25. Oh these are some lovely shots....fantastic!

  26. Thanks for your comment flyingstars. :)

  27. A great laugh as always Keith. Your stories always bring a smile to my face. Like Chris said, at least you got to see those Plover.
    How cool was that eh mate ! :-)

    Nothing that wrong with yours shots, plus you can always try try again ;-)

  28. Cheers Nick. Yea, it was good to see the Plovers; even at a distance lol