Sunday evening, whilst pondering just what to do on Monday, I found out there had been a grey phalarope at Hove Lagoon on the kiddies paddling pool. After a quick Google I printed off the details and resolved to go there Monday if the bird was still around. Since the weather was going to be poor until late morning and I didn't want to hit the M25 too early I was relying on someone informing Birdguides it was still there. They did and at 7.40am! - I don't know who you are but thank you, you made my day.
Half hour later I set off and I'm pleased to say had an event free journey.
It was just after 10 when I drove into Hove. The forecast suggested it should have been bright and getting sunnier - it had just stopped raining and was heavily overcast and looked like there was a lot more rain to come.
At the paddling pool I found John Stanton plus a couple of other photographers inside the paddling pool enclosure and laying on the wet ground clicking away merrily at the phalarope which was probably all of 4 yards away!!!! Needless to say I joined them.
Being a thinking man I had taken a sheet of plastic to lay on much to the disgust of the hardier soles already there who were happy to suffer for their passion. Down in position I started clicking away and as the bird moved off I checked my initial results....crap, delete, crap, delete, crap, delete .....I only had 1/150 to 1/200th sec on the shutter and the bird was spinning and dipping for food too fast for the shutter speed.
I continued clicking away hoping the thing would sit still for a moment then it started to rain - hard.
I saw a doorway and was about to take shelter in it when I saw the sign - Ladies!.... so I had to make do with standing in the lee of the building. I went though the picture I had taken....delete, delete, delete. mmmmm I was not doing too well.
|One of the few I've kept from the initial session.|
It quite strange to see everyone clicking away then as the bird gets closer they stop and look up because the bird is now too close to focus on and/or get in frame.
At first as the bird got closer I tried to move the focus point so as to get the whole bird in frame but it was spinning so fast I was achieving nothing so in the end I left it on the central spot and hoped (but lost the rear end of quite a few decent shots).
Back to the bird. After a little while the rain stopped and the light improved - I was now getting about 1/500th.
|Post rain - you can see the floor of the paddling pool.|
And a little while later the sun came out. Great shutter speeds but now I had to worry about burning out the whites. I dropped the exposure to -1/3 to -2/3rds (should have gone lower) but with the help of Photoshop got some very pleasing images. Here are some results to go with those posted on Flickr.
|One where the tail was out of frame because it was too close|
The phalarope spend a lot of the time upended -I hadn't realised they had brown(ish) tail feathers. I also managed a few shots of it with blood worms - the source of food that has kept it there for 3 days now.