This Thursday just gone, I along with all the other volunteers in the Lee Valley Park were invited to an annual awards party with volunteers recognised for their sterling efforts over the past year and an unveiling of the photography that had been selected for the Park’s calendar. The whole shebang kicked off at 6pm so I decided the best thing to do would be to take the day off work to ensure I made it in good time. So all I had to do was find a suitable location to enjoy a few hours birding.
So it rains. Well it rains in the fog to be precise. This is what I have to contend with in my quest to make an effort with my list. Not fair. I had chosen to fly along the A13 to Canvey Island for the Red-backed Shrike that had been reported a couple of days prior. I arrived at West Canvey Marsh to find the gates locked so I had to park away from the reserve and trudge through the bad weather with a sinking feeling in me old heart. Naturally I couldn’t find it and there was no one else about to ask. I went to the roadside hide and watched a Green Sandpiper in the margins and a few gulls, none of which were Meds and the weather continued to close in. In the distance a bird flew up and onto the barbed wire along an adjacent path. Could it be?
It was. I got as close as I could and took a few images (200) in dull, damp conditions. I wasn’t confident of getting anything decent but it was another tick and a cracking bird to watch. A Whinchat joined it looking a bit bedraggled and it tried to shake off the surplus moisture from itself.
|One Wet Whinchat|
|Canvey (is that the sun breaking through?)|
Once back, Icouls at least now park in the car park and saw another birder sitting in the roadside hide. I approached the area where I had seen the shrike and it was still there. I didn’t want to disturb the view for the other birder so held off wondering if I should go to him and ask if I could go nearer for some photography. Didn’t need to. He came to me and asked if I had found 'it'. I just pointed. His name was George. Lovely man and we spent the next couple of hours with a growing entourage of birders, photographers and general inquisitors watching this amazing bird. Now for some better shots.
It was a brilliant day and I was glad I made the effort to go back. It’s not really about totals at all. It’s about catching a subject and enjoying it and the time spent capturing it for years to come. I met some really lovely people; all of us polite and respectful of each others opportunities to photo the shrike and the respect for the bird as well. We didn’t go close or stress it. It ate for England, consumed loads of bees, crickets, caterpillars, beetles and various other unidentified creatures.
NB. Since this trip my camera has given up the ghost but what a way to go out.