Sunday, 12 February 2012

....and a Slavonian Grebe to end the w/e.

On Saturday I check out Dover harbour – the thinking being that with so mucf on the inland waterways ice locked perhaps something interesting would turn up in the harbour. Well it didn’t.  All I found were 2 tufted duck and a little grebe in the marina but that’s where the search ended because the PoW  pier was locked. I couldn't be bothered to walk to the Admiralty pier.
With my remaining time I was  a bit of a loss what to do so I returned to Kingsdown and visited the old rifle range to play with the camera. I was half way along and hadn’t seen too much when I noticed what I thought were ducks (very distant) out on the sea and when one of them flapped I could see white in the wing and got excited. I was returning to the car to get my scope but as I got near to the car the “ducks” were now close enough to id – they were great crested grebes . The lesson here - not everything you see on the sea with white in the wing is a velvet scoter. In my defence most of the brids had their heads tucked down so I hadn't been able to see the long necks.
It wasn’t a complete waste of time as a kestrel flew onto the cliff face and a couple of minutes later a peregrine flew north (very high).

Kestrel on the rocks

I didn’t think flight shots of either were very good (camera shake as the birds were directly overhead) so I spent 10 minutes practicing on the fulmars.

After that it was home but whilst I was waiting for the Italy England match I noticed a few birds in the garden with a song thrush posing very nicely in the sun.

Song Thrush
Sunday I decided to park up at Hacklinge and walk out to Roaring gutter from the inland side – don't ask me why I just wanted to do something different and I knew the north stream was ice free.  Things started pretty quietly with, chaffinch, greenfinch, blue, great and long tailed tit in the trees near the main road  plus a few blackbirds and song thrushes but as I got out on the marsh I started flushing a common snipe from the track side ditches (10 in total).  I kept looking and hoping then as I approached Roaring gutter up popped a jack snipe which almost hovered as it looked for somewhere to land a few yards further along then thought better of it and flew off along a side channel in silence.  My luck didn’t stop there because a few minutes later up popped a green sandpiper then a redshank.
I did get to Roaring gutter but it was duck free, just a lone little grebe but I gave up then because it had started snowing quite heavily and I return to the car. On the return leg I found a couple of redwing and flushed the green sandpiper twice more.
I’d only been home 30 minutes when I got a text from Chidders alerting me to a Slavonian grebe at Dover. On with the coat and out the door to be greeted by ................rain – I think I prefer the snow I had earlier.
I parked up and immediately spotted the grebe down towards the Union road bridge, so I went to join it. I spent the next 40 minutes waiting for it to come closer and it did get quite close on occasion but not close enough to make up for the poor conditions. I took pictures with both the Canon and the Sony with the Sony producing more decent shots but that may have been because it got closer more often when I was using the Canon.

Slav Grebe - this looks painful!

Slav Grebe looking for the Kumlien's Gull
What was interesting was how the Auto White Balance of each camera coped with the conditions. Here the Sony was a clear winner with the Canon giving the grebe a very red tinge.
Sony's attempt

Canon's best effort

These 2 pictures are unedited just reduced in size for the blog. I didn't find correcting the red of the canon shots very easy and wasn't totally happy I have got the colours right but that may be down to my inexperience with the Canon software.


  1. Good stuff, any idea what's wrong with the link to flicker from blogs?

  2. Steve, Canon's white balance is not the best. If you shoot in raw just alter the tint slider (slide it back a little if the pic is redish)in adobe raw and you can get the red out of it pretty easily. (Tint is between the temp slider and the exposure slider)If you shoot in jpeg, next time you are in Dover just toss the camera in with the Grebe.

  3. Tony, I've taken the non-working Flickr link off. I gave up trying to understand what it meant but it was over my head to resolve.
    As for Steve comments; I spent a lot of time trying to adjust the temperature but it wasn't very good. My version of Photoshop doesn't recognise the Canaon raw files so I have to use the DPP provided but I'll have another go.

  4. Steve great blog and some great Slav shots . Not noticed the red on my shots but it may be that my eyeseight is that bad I rely on others to put me straight.

  5. Sounds like an eventful weekend, I haven't noticed the red tinge either on the Canon but I will be looking more closely now.

  6. Red tinge or not, Slav grebe is a good one for your archives :-)

  7. The fulmar pic is awesome!
    Saludos from Spain!