About a month ago I visited Castle Espie. I think it was the first time I’d been this year. It was fine when I left home, just okay when I arrived and it got cold and wet while I was there. In short I could’ve picked a better day.
Castle Espie is a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre on the shores of Strangford Lough and I planned to do some close up images of ducks and maybe geese using a wide angle lens.
I bought a packet of food to encourage them to come close and I didn’t expect problems. I’ve photographed them before using a long lens and when they see you they swim over because they expect you to feed them. Swimming nearer is not what you want them to do when you’re using a long lens but today I was using a wide angle.
I had set up my camera on a tripod and scattered food around. They wandered around but wouldn’t come as close as I had expected.
I waited, it got colder and started to rain but still the ducks wouldn’t come close. I packed my gear away and that’s when they got stuck into the food. I walked over and they waddled back to the water. You know when something is just not meant to happen.
A member of staff told me they were on edge as they’d been getting moved in anticipation of the Vet visiting on in a couple of days to inspect them. Also the breeding season was coming near.
Marked down for another attempt on a warmer day when the vet isn’t coming.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself nearby so called hoping the ducks would be more co-operative. I arrived about 30 minutes after they had been fed and was ignored.
Why this effort to get close up pictures of ducks? Well I think there’s a good photograph to be had and I don’t like to give up on what I originally thought would be a simple job.
Anyway it was a nice sunny Spring day so on the way home I took some photographs of farmers working in fields outside Newtownards and sent them to Alamy Live News. Photographs of the weather are always popular.
I went home for lunch feeling the morning hadn’t been wasted after all.
A recent visit to Castle Espie produced these photographs of swans. Iv’e made half hearted attempts to photograph the swans before but they or the light never really cooperated and there was no urgency on my part as they are nearly always there and I knew that sometime in the future things would come together for me. This time I spotted some taking it easy, it was a nice bright day and so I took some photographs. As luck would have it as I finished off and started to walk away I heard wings flapping and one came gracefully into land. I brought the camera up but wasn’t quick enough to get the actual landing. My fault – I should’ve been paying attention to what was going on around me. A lesson learned!
I made my first visit of 2015 to Castle Espie today and I’ve included some photographs. I was reluctant to include a further post on castle Espie, making two in a row, but as the previous post included older photographs while these are fresh today I thought I’d chance it.
I would normally use a long lens for shooting wildfowl but today all these images were taken using a 17-40mm lens. The aim was to get as close as possible to the birds with the wide angle zoom so that while the bird appears large to the fore of the frame, much of the surrounding environment is also included. The birds at Castle Espie are relatively tame (they will take food from your hand) but they weren’t completely comfortable with someone clutching a bag full of cameras getting too close so the images aren’t as dramatic as I had hoped. I think next time I’ll put the camera on a tripod and use a remote.
I’ve been browsing through my 2014 images while attempting to do a general computer de-clutter and I came across these images from castle Espie.
The photograph of the Brent Geese on Strangford Lough reminded me that I’d written previously about the geese and how I didn’t have a long enough lens. I had found that the cost of hiring from England was prohibitive but I’d been told of an alternative spot on the lough and assured that my 70-200mm zoom would suffice. Well I’ve been to the suggested spot a few times but on each occasion either the geese or the weather refused to co-operate, although I have high hopes for the future. I hadn’t included a photograph of the geese in that original post so here’s one taken with my 70-200mm zoom.
Click on an image to enlarge.
I always photograph the ducks when I go to Castle Espie, they’re everywhere, but I don’t often post the photographs so I decided to include this image of a duck having a great time.
I’ve become aware lately that simply looking at the ground often reveals subjects that can make interesting photographs, especially in a place like Castle Espie.
Tens of thousands of Brent Geese make the journey from the Arctic to Stangford Lough each year – the spectacle was featured in BBC Autumnwatch on 31 October. The first this year were spotted in early September with recent counts indicating 27,000 have arrived and Castle Espie, on the shores of Strangford Lough, is the place to see them. Continue reading “Autumn at Castle Espie”