Something grey on a winters day


Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) Nikon P1000

On Friday I had a day off work and ventured to Newton Point with my good friend Paul Joy. I have a lot to blog about in what can be best described photographically as a target rich environment and so I have decided to break it down into a series of shorter posts. This one being the first.

Newton Point is a one of South Wales hotspots for roosting waders at high tide and I was determined to make the most of a mid-day high tide and gorgeous clear skies. The only downside of a day that was going to have far more ups than downs was the bitter cold.

Trecco Bay

Whilst walking along Trecco beach to find some waders I ended up resembling a contestant ( a really bad one) from "Dancers on Ice". It was so cold the seawater covering the sand had frozen resulting in me slipping and sliding all over the place.

The shoreline was pretty much devoid of any birdlife apart from a few gulls -mainly  Herring and Black- Headed although I did grab a quick picture of a Mediterranean Gull as it flew over our heads.

Mediterranean Gull  (OM-1 Mirrorless Camera with the Zuiko 100-400 mm lens)

On the edge of Rhych Point I spotted a small flock of Oystercatchers and a couple of Grey Plover. At the edge of the beach I spotted a few Ringed Plover that were in amongst the small rock pools and seaweed. They were a little nervous and kept me at a distance.

As the tide pushed in Paul and I noticed a flock of about six  Grey Plovers and double that number of  Turnstones fly in and land on some rocks situated on Trecco Beach.

In the sunshine they looked great. Grey Plovers are very similar to Golden Plovers but are larger, stockier and during the winter their plumage is mainly a Grey with a hint of brown. Compared to their spectacular summer plumage of silver and black they look very non-discreet.

The roost

I think they are beautiful looking birds whatever season it is. These plovers have huge black eyes which don't miss a trick. They are always on the look out for danger and are not known for being very confiding to get close to. Anyone attempting to use zero field craft and try chasing this species is going to be made a food of and the end result will be pictures of them flying away.

Paul and I have been taking photographs of waders at Newton for number of years now and our fieldcraft technique is to find a nice spot on the rocks up-beach from the incoming tide and then wait for the rising waters to push the birds in close to us.

By being patient and giving the waders plenty of space and a safety zone eventually we get some nice views relatively close up.

Grey Plovers are always keeping an eye out. (Nikon P1000).

Grey Plover ( Nikon P1000)

I was using my Nikon P1000 super zoom 3000mm camera and the new OM-1 Mirrorless Camera with the Zuiko 100-400 mm lens. I did not need to get that close to the birds to get some pics armed with this amount of kit.

I often think I don't praise the Nikon P1000 more regularly. The camera is very much the unsung hero of the majority of my trips.  The P1000 serves me extremely well as my spotting scope. I own a good birding scope but rarely use it these days. As I am effectively blind in my left eye binoculars are the equivalent of an expensive piece of jewellery. 

So the P1000 with its monstrous zoom capabilities is like carrying around a digital scope but a device that can take pictures and 4 K video with ease.

When it comes to trying to take reasonable pictures of birds at distance it really does come into its own. Whilst it has a small mobile phone sized sensor and lacks the sharpness and megapixels of the SLR's and Mirrorless for a bridge camera its not a bad allrounder but with incredible range. In good light you can get some very decent pictures using the P1000 even at extreme distances.

So after waiting around sat on some uncomfortable rocks we were rewarded with fabulous views of these Grey Plovers. I used a both cameras but I found that the Nikon P1000 could close the distance to the subject that touch better as the light was so good. When I get time I will post some of the video on my You Tube channel.

A couple of Grey Plovers (OM-1 Mirrorless Camera with the Zuiko 100-400 mm lens)

Portrait of a Grey Plover ( Nikon P1000).


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