This morning, my wife (Carole) and I were driving along the country lane towards a small village called Manea. There is an RSPB sanctuary there that looks out across the marshy fenland towards the town of Ely, where the Cathedral towers stand out in the summer haze. It is also the place where Oliver Cromwell was born.
It is a place we often go to just to while away a good few hours in the bird hides. We take a picnic box filled with coffee sandwiches and a few goodies on top. We also have binoculars and the Nikon D3100 camera with the 55m to 200m lens. This is inadequate for what I like to photograph, but I’m learning this slowly and surely.
I’ve sent off for a new zoom lens of 420m to 800m. It is, of course, a cheapy and I’ll have to use manual setting upon a sturdy tripod. This is because the camera adjustments don’t work with the particular zoom lens. I’ll have to learn by hand. If I can do this, I’ll think about a more expensive one with better connections between camera and lens during automatic adjustment setting.
In the meantime, we are making do with the max 200m on the Nikon and as we were driving along, Carole spotted a bird of prey circling majestically above the fields whilst travelling through the farmland fen. Good fortune had a gravel layby close at hand so I pulled in and got the camera ready. I took a string of shots but the hawk was high up. I could not make out if it was a marsh harrier or a common buzzard.
The under wing seems to look like that of a marsh harrier and the head seems white. I was so pleased to get this bird before even arriving at the hide. What a fabulous start. Carole has eyes as good as any hawk. I would have completely missed that sight as I drove along the country lane.
Most of the shots are at distance but with the new zoom lens, I’ve ordered; I’m sure I’ll get better quality pictures. However, the snaps were still pleasing to me.
I got back into the car and proceeded towards the hides. I was saying to Carole that this was a perfect start. I was harking on about it as we travelled through the village of Manea. We turned down a country lane that led towards the bird sanctuary when she told me to stop the car suddenly. It was a deserted lane going through the farmland towards the canals, marshlands and hides, with reeds growing high along the dyke that ran next to the lane.
“What is it?” I asked excitedly. Carole’s eyes never miss much. I often say she could spot a pimple on an elephant’s backside at two miles.
“Just slowly reverse the car,” she instructed.
I complied and then she said. “Stop.”
On a fence post, looking straight at us was a kestrel. I think it was a male and how the heck she spotted it was beyond me. We were close up and the kestrel was staring straight back. I knew I’d have to be quick before it got spooked. However, I had time to lower the window and, for once, get a good few shots at close range. I was thrilled we still had not arrived at the bird hides and already we had got a few nice results.
Once we got to the hides we saw marsh harriers and many other types of bird. The marsh harriers were circling high with Ely Cathedral in the background. Our binoculars focused in on them, but they were too far for the 200m lens. Still, can’t get too spoilt, we still had a great morning in the hides and walked along the dyke to try out several locations.
There was also other types of bird, but I'm more switched on by the birds of prey. It's what I like about fenland. I've never seen so many raptors since moving to this place.