Three Mallard Drakes chilling at Castle Espie WWT Centre.
I’ve written about Castle Espie before. It is a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre on the shores of Strangford Lough about 10 miles from my home. I try to visit a couple of times a month and while I go mainly to take photographs as do many others, a lot of people come to simply walk in the grounds and see the wildfowl and the views over the lough.
It’s a popular place to see the Brent Geese as thousands of them winter on the lough and the Trust has The Brent Discovery Hide right on the shore where you can watch them in reasonable comfort.
The Centre is good for photography. When you enter there are large ponds where you can feed the ducks and geese. This area is separated from the main reserve and the birds are used to being fed so you can get fairly close.
I’ve tried before to photograph the ducks and geese using a wide angle lens and it didn’t work out well for me. The birds had been fed and my attempts to coax them to come close with grain I had bought didn’t work.
This was my second attempt. These photographs were taken using a Canon 17-40 lens at the short end. Since I took these images I’ve thought of a few ways to make improvements. I need to get the camera lower and closer for a start and I need more birds in the frame. I know I could clone some of the birds from elsewhere in the photograph but I’d prefer to get it right in camera if possible.
I’ll try again and call this work in progress
There’s something about a big photograph. It draws the eye, it has presence, it can fascinate, it can impress.
I’ve rediscovered panoramas.
These images are from Castle Espie, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre in County Down and were taken over the last week or so.
I’m enjoying doing something different. Most of the images I produce are destined for stock while panoramic photographs are meant to be printed big and hung on walls.
I’m also getting to use my Canon 5D2 rather than the little Panasonics. The Panasonics are great when you have to carry a camera for hours shooting general stock. The Canon is more suited to this work and it’s like working with an old friend again.
The Antrim Coast is next on the list.
A recent foray into the woods at Castle Espie WWT Centre threw up an unexpected result. I had been there to shoot some video of Brent Geese feeding on Strangford Lough and afterwards went for a walk into the woods.
I stopped at the viewpoint that overlooks the centre when a Robin landed on the fence a few feet away. My cameras were in my bag and I thought if I reached for one it would take flight so I stood watching. It watched me back. After what seemed a long time, although it was probably less than a minute, I risked it and grabbed for my camera. The Robin hopped around on the fence, happy to be photographed. Things were going so well I even thought of erecting my tripod and trying for some video but I that would have been a step too far.
Later when I was processing the photographs I realised that the Robin probably expected me to give it food. Often when you stop to photograph wildfowl in Castle Espie they come close expecting food. Why would a Robin be different?
Indeed to my untrained eye this Robin does look fairly well fed.
Castle Espie is a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre on the shores of Strangford Lough about 12 miles from my home. It is probably best known for being where nearly all the Brent Geese spend the winter months.
As well as being a relaxing place to simply walk around the centre is an educational resource for everyone, especially children, to experience the natural world at close quarters. There is a Duckery for hatchlings, ducks and geese are plentiful along with sea and shore birds and hides to watch them from. There’s even a cafe!
More images here.