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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Jack ASS! (That's 'Jack Snipe' and 'A.S.S' = 'Anti Shivering System!)

Yesterday I took delivery of a new photographic toy!
My brand new Sigma 50-500mm APO HSM OS  lens! All the way from Germany!
  So I couldn't wait for the clouds to clear and get to nearby RSPB Greylake to play with it!


Above is the first photo I took at Greylake with my new lens, attached to my Nikon D7000, a one - legged Robin in the car park! The poor little bird didn't seem bothered by it's lack of limb.
  Mother Nature..... she's tough!


  I walked to the main hide along the track, noticing a few Moorhens dotted about, but alas no Water Rails in their usual haunt. It didn't help that all the open areas of water I'd walked past were completely frozen! 
  As always, there were hundreds of Winter duck in front of the hide, but rather disappointingly they were not as close as normal, as the water immediately in front of the hide was also frozen! Only the middle of the lake was unfrozen. 
    Now, while it was rather bright, that didn't equate to it being also mild. Oh no, far from it! As soon as I lifted one of the windows to point my new expensive bit of kit out of it, an arctic blast of freezing air hit me full in the face , causing my eyes to water and my ears to shrink immediately! This was all I deserved. I get caught out every single time I enter this hide! I walk in brazenly, 'T' shirt and thin jumper, no hat, no gloves, no hot water bottle... 'It's not that cold' I say to myself as I walk past several other birders in the hide, peering at me through hats and scarfs, shivering, teeth chattering...
   'Look at that muppet, he'll catch his death in here...' they probably think to themselves...
In all honesty, Greylake bird hide has to be the coldest hide in Britain. Unless there's a hide at the top of the Cairngorms that I don't know about.. Eskimos would think twice about using this hide!
   Once again I met some familiar faces such as John Crabb and Steve Balcombe. Always enjoy swapping stories and experiences. I also met James Crutchley for the first time. We'd seen each others pictures and posts on the internet, so it was nice to finally meet 'out in the field'. What a thoroughly lovely guy!
 Here is his fabulous blog;


 I have to give credit to James for the title of this blog post. We were talking about lens attributes, whilst shivering in the sub-zero temperatures, when he said that an 'Anti Shivering System' would be a good idea, before falling about in laughter after realising it spelt ASS!
'There's the title of your blog post', he said 'Jack ASS'!
Here's the reason for the 'Jack' part of the title;



 The smaller bird is a Jack Snipe! The other one is a common or garden Snipe! I'd never seen a Jack Snipe before, and to be honest I wouldn't have been confident of recognising one unless I saw it with a Common Snipe to compare, as I did today! This bird was visibly smaller, with a shorter bill. 
  I wasn't expecting a life lister during my visit, but it made up for the lack of birds of prey, only a Buzzard showed itself while I was there.
  Speaking of which, it helpfully landed on a gate, the exact spot one landed during my last visit. It gave me the chance to compare the pictures taken with my new Sigma and my old Nikkor 70-300mm lens. The Sigma was clearly better over this long distance, the extra reach being obvious in clarity and sharpness. However, I was a little disappointed with the overall sharpness of my images today, especially of birds in flight, which is a particular passion of mine! The Nikkor definately wins out here, it also performs better in low light. If it's cloudy or dull, I will leave my Sigma at home. The extra reach comes at a price. smaller apertures, meaning slower shutter speeds. Turn up the ISO and there's obvious 'noise', which I hate! Maybe, if I win the lottery, I will purchase a full frame DSLR next! I will keep dreaming....
   Anyway, I will stop waffling and present the rest of the photos I took today with my new toy!
(Please excuse the many artistic flocks of duck at the end.... I love them!!)


^Above^ - Frozen lake! 




^Above^ - Pintail, with Shoveler and Wigeon in the bottom picture.






^Above^ - Shoveler










^Above^ - Teal







^Above^ - Wigeon




^Above^ - Mallard








^Above^ - Mute Swan






^Above^ - Snipe



^Above^ - Lapwing


^Above^ - Carrion Crow






^Above^ - Buzzard






^Above^ - Stonechat


^Above^ - Reeds and Bullrushes


^Above^ - Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon and Mallard.
























^Above^ - Ducks galore!!