I headed to RSPB Ham Wall over the August Bank Holiday weekend with a friend who wanted to try out a couple of cameras he had hired. I also had with me my new Sigma 150mm Macro 2.8, I had put it on my old Nikon D300 seeing I probably wouldn’t need to crop into the images much. Although we had gone to go bird watching we were also trying out new kit 🙂
We headed down to Tor hide; from previous visits we know it is a good place to spot bitterns! There was a fair amount of activity, a marsh harrier, gadwall, great white egret, cormorant, swallow, little brown thing that flew between the reeds that I just saw out of the corner of my eye (I have no idea at all what it was!), black headed gull, moorhen, the Red Arrows flew over!, little grebe, and of course a bittern. It took a very short flight over the reed beds, I was lucky to get a photo as by the time you had seen it, it was gone!
After a few hours I walked back to the car park to use the facilities! On the way I saw a mute swan and 4 cygnets and a little creature ran across the path. I’m not sure who was most surprised, me or him, we both stopped, looked at each other briefly and he shot into the grass. I think it was a vole but it was such a brief encounter I can’t be certain. That will teach me for not taking my camera!
On the walk to the Avalon Hide I saw another vole! This one didn’t stop to look, he just shot across the path! The hide wasn’t too busy when we got there but people were very spread out, it became obvious after a while that people who were there together were taking up a window each rather than sitting together to allow others to sit down. Now I do see the value of a window each because it allows you more room, however, I have always moved to sit with a companion if others come in to sit down, I just see it as polite. We had to squeeze in a gap in between a window and someone’s scope because they were taking up two windows, they were sat a good few feet away from the windows and at an angle, it was a little odd, they didn’t even acknowledge we were there! After a while of feeling rather uncomfortable we were able to move to a window that became available.
There wasn’t a huge number of birds about but enough to keep us occupied: little egret, great white egret, mute swan, coot, house martin, cormorant, 4 marsh harriers at once and a sparrowhawk! The lady sat next to me noticed it at the same time and we were debating on what it was at the time. I think it took us both by surprise sat in the water by the reeds.
With regards to my new lens, after a bit of testing I think it would work better on my D3s, the D300 just doesn’t seem to work properly with it, it didn’t seem to want to focus, it just wasn’t right. I normally have a wide angle on the D3s so looks like I might have to do some switching of lenses while out in the field when necessary! Not something I like to do if I can help it, I rather dislike cleaning camera sensors!