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  • Writer's picturePeter Howarth

A Morning in the Mist

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

7:30am I am up dressed and eating breakfast. I have my camera bag and gear ready to go on the table, my hot chocolate is made and I am out the door into the gloomy morning.

As I drive towards Leighton Moss my excitement grows, the rain promised is nowhere to be seen and the fog that has blanketed the north seems to have departed; for the day at least. As if to further my excitement a trio of Roe Deer appear on the road in front of me, after several moments they leave through a hedgerow. With a smile on my face I set off once again.

At last I am in the car park and while it is bright enough for me to see comfortably, photography is almost out of the question. Setting off towards the lower hide I am greeted by the knocking of a Woodpecker somewhere is the forest and wailing of Water Rails in the reed beds. I eventually reached the lower hide, where I would spend my morning hoping for a glimpse of some of the rarer individuals on the reserve.

I was happy to discover the hide completely empty, apparently weekend birders are not too found of getting wet. I placed my self in the far corner of the hide, allowing me a view of the main lake and the reeds to the backside of the hide. As I sat looking out over water a sense of stillness fell over me. The ever present Marsh Harrier circled above the reeds keeping a constant watch over his domain. Alone in the hide I felt at peace away from the world, until a car driving in the distance and a gun shot ringing out brought me back to reality. This shot also roused the ducks around me and with that my peace was broken.

I continued to stare out over the water hoping to see the tell tale signs of an Otter breaking the surface or perhaps a Bittern creep out of the reeds. Sadly neither made an appearance, so I contented myself by watching the Teals squabble amongst themselves.

After waiting fruitless for an hour or so my patience was rewarded as a Snipe came into land right into front of me. Aware I had spotted it the Snipe stood completely still, in an attempt to make the best use of its fantastic camouflage. Fortunately for me it had chosen to stand away from the reeds which allowed me to capture the wonderful moment it peaked out from behind a post.

D7500 Sigma 150-600c 1/320 at f/6.3, ISO 3600

After a few minutes the Snipe moved and disappeared into the reeds, I sat for a while longer hoping something else would show up but nothing did. So I packed my bag and headed off into the drizzle.

On the path back to my car I met a pair of birders who had put some food out for the songs birds in the forest. The light levels were very low so a mono-pod was crucial, allowing me to shoot at low shutters speeds, even with that I was pushing my ISO higher than I was comfortable. A larger aperture would have helped me avoid this but I was shooting at the largest my lens would allow.

D7500 Sigma 150-600c 1/320 at f/6.3, ISO 4500

I was happy to capture several photos of Blue Tits and Great Tits, the Coal Tits did as always elude me (there is always next time). After sitting for a while I remembered it was winter and still rather cold outside so I made a dash back to my car and warmth.

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