I have been trying to photograph the ducks around the Exe Estuary recently. It hasn't been that easy to get close enough to them for the kind of shots that I am trying to get but I feel that with regular visits and lots of patience, I may eventually achieve something worthwhile. The problem is that the hides around the Exe are not positioned with the photographer in mind, but it's fair to say that, for others with a good spotting scope, good views are absolutely guaranteed. The Exe Estuary is one of the UK's best sites for over-wintering birds but It is a big frustration that you just can't get close enough to the birds for a "special: photograph. Yesterday for example, I visited Exminster Marsh, it was high tide and I was hoping that there would be some ducks close enough to the road to get a good photograph. That wasn't the case and the few birds that were there were way in the distance. Moving on, I first tried the hide at Darts Farm, sometimes the ducks there are quite close but unfortunately not today. However I did take an interesting series of photos of a Black Swan, a feral breeding species here in Devon, acting aggressively towards a Mute Swan. Black Swans are known to be dominant over Mute Swans but it is the first time I have seen any sign of it. Black Swans are native to Australia of course but they are the town emblem of nearby Dawlish and over the years several have "done a runner" from their captivity in the town.
I moved over to Bowling Green Marsh where from the hide the spectacle was absolutely awe inspiring. In the distance there were at least 1000 birds, probably more and my frustration was hard to contain. However, some of the Teal, Widgeon and Canada Geese did eventually meander down the flooded watercourse that is nearest to the hide to at least give me an opportunity for a shot and with the aid of a "crop" once I returned home, at least I have got some shots to post here. I met up with the RSPB's visitor attraction officer the other day and we chatted both then and by email. I told him of my frustration. He did say that he agreed with me and they were hoping to try and improve things. I doubt anything will really improve but I suppose it is a measure of at least something if the RSPB have appointed him as a Visitor Satisfaction Officer. As regulars to my blog will know, I visit birding sites all around the world and quite often. It is a sad state of affairs when I say that my local area is probably the worst that I have ever visited in this regard. For example the hide at Bowling Green is literally the furthest away from the action that it could be and boasts parking for just one disabled vehicle, disgusting really. There is always a counter argument of course and no doubt someone will be wanting to argue their point with me over this, well don't bother because what ever you say, I won't agree!
Even though the roosting birds were in the distance, as they left the roost slowly and surely, sometimes taking to the air in hundreds, I snapped away in the hope that I would get something interesting and so it proved. I was very pleased to have these images of Godwits both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed together in flight. You can see how different they look in flight with the Black-tailed having that very bold pattern which shows really well.