Bird photography at RSPB Ham Wall wildlife reserve, Somerset – Day 2

Today I went back to RSPB wildlife reserve at Ham Wall.  Yesterday was a great day, but I felt I had got there a little late to properly see the starlings.  Added to this, I wanted another chance to get some frosty photos.

Another 5:30am start was definitely not the part of the morning that I enjoyed, and quite honestly when I was getting up, I questioned how much I really wanted to see these starlings and get some more photos.

This time I got to the car park a good 30 minutes earlier than the day before.  I saw a couple other guys who had just arrived and were on their way with a tripod and a camera on the end complete with huge telephoto lens, the kind that costs as much as a new small car!

Yesterday, I had found a good spot for photos, but I didn’t have time to look at other places, and after chatting to a couple of ladies yesterday, I thought I would try a different area.  It wasn’t completely obvious, even by the map, where the other location I was heading to was.  There were a few different paths and as much as I felt I would be right amongst the starlings, I didn’t know what sort of views I would get.  The previous day I had had great views, given I had the Glastonbury Tor in the background, set against a glowing sky before sunrise.

I changed my mind a few times as to which route to take so lost a bit of time, but when I finally did settle on a place, there were plenty of starlings, but the view wasn’t nearly as good as the previous day.  It was also nice yesterday to be set up in a hide, whereas today I really needed to be out in the open to make the best of it.

Rather than get exactly the same shots as yesterday, I thought this time I would use my long telephoto lens (which I had remembered this time, unlike yesterday!) to video the starlings close up.  That was certainly interesting.  All the starlings were sat on the reeds and just looking through the camera lens, you coudn’t really get a feel for how many there were due to the angle.  As soon as they took off though you got a sense of scale as they just seemed to keep coming out of the reeds as though they were multiplying!

After watching them take off and swirl around the sky (no murmurations though unfortunately), I then focused my attention to getting some more frosty photos.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t as excited as yesterday as then everything was all new.  By this time I was appreciating being out at such an hour though, compared to when I first got up!

Glastonbury Tor at sunrise from Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Reeds in sunlight at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Sunrise with hide at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Here, nestled amongst the reeds, you can see the ‘Tor view hide.’  This was the hide I used yesterday.  This photo and the ones that follow, I could easily have missed.  I say that because I took these whilst zoomed in quite a bit, and you have to imagine what pictures could be captured far off in the distance, rather than just the view your eyes see. I really liked how by this time (8:25am) the light made everything glow and look beautiful.

Sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Trees in sunlight at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

As I had my 100-400mm lens with me today I was able to capture details that I couldn’t yesterday.  I didn’t see any birds that I wanted to photograph, and the hide I went to yesterday was full of people so I didn’t feel like hanging around there.  So I instead looked at the landscape.  It wasn’t really until I was heading back to the car park though that I got the angles that I liked and the subject matter that interested me.  There are only so many interesting ways to photograph reeds!  I did notice though that there were trees and fields in the distance that looked very pretty with the low level sun shining behind them.  The landscape became a series of layers that grew gradually fainter as they became farther away from me.  I could have stayed longer, but today I had some football photographs I had been booked to do by Bridgwater & Taunton College, so I thought I would get just a few more photos before heading home and getting ready for my next job.

Sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

This could easily be a painting.  You see many romantically styled paintings of landscapes, but at this time in the morning, this is what it really looks like on a frosty day.

Reeds at sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Swan at sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

Swan at sunrise at Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve

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