Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Skating away…

Yesterday, saw me at Tophill Low once again. The forecast was good and after a mediocre dawn, the sun came out and there was a beautiful blue sky for a change. The water at North Marsh was still frozen but the overlying snow had disappeared leaving a magical sheet of blue/grey ice that looked stunning in the warm light of the early morning. The stage was set and all I needed was the players.

First to arrive was a Grey Heron. It swooped down with its large wings and landed amongst the reeds on the margin of the lake. I waited until it had settled and took a few pictures to check the exposure and white balance. After a few minutes wait, it walked boldly across the ice to the central island and I managed to capture of short sequence of images. It was interesting to see the huge feet of this magnificent bird for a change—they’re usually hidden in the mud below the surface of the water.


An hour or so later, a flock of Long-tailed Tits flew into the willow adjacent to the hide. Always fun to watch but difficult to photograph due to their restless behaviour. So I was particularly pleased when one flew to the top branch and was framed against the bright blue sky.


The most active birds throughout the day were the two local Sparrowhawks. Most of the time, they were partially hidden by the branches of the willows and it was very frustrating not to get a clear view and a photograph. Here’s an example of my frustrations…


Well, my patience eventually paid dividends when one of the Sparrowhawks flew directly towards the hide and I managed to get a good sequence of photographs of the bird in flight—and believe me, they do fly very quickly indeed. Thank heavens for predictive auto-focus technology. Even so, I had to ‘pump’ the shutter a few times in order to obtain a focus lock. Still, I believe the effort was worthwhile.


I was going to spend the whole day at the reserve but when my hot tea ran out shortly after lunch, I retreated to Driffield and the luxury of a warm bath.

Don’t forget, the closing day for my competition is midnight (GMT) this Friday. Do have a go—you may be the lucky winner of a fine print of your choice.


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One thought on “Skating away…

  1. That Sprawk in flight. Wow. Great pic.

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