Good Friday 2014 provided me with the opportunity to visit Stodmarsh Reserve for the first time. My good friend at my camera club, asked if I wanted to go with him for the afternoon. He has been many times before and could highlight to me the key hides or spots that prove successful for photography. The day was fairly calm, with some slight breeze disturbing the surrounding Reeds. Fluffy clouds like that of a Chocolate Box scene, filled the sky, giving that on/off lighting that proves a pain for photography. We headed for the Reedbed hide first, given that the Sun was behind us and could light up any wildlife about at this time.
At first there was not much activity, the odd Mallard here and there and Coot darting about in the edges of the Reed Bed to the right of us. In the distance Cetti's Warbler could be heard with there distinct chaotic, metallic like calls. After about 1 1/2 hours of pretty much nothing appearing in the bay, a Great Crested Grebe popped up out of nowhere in the channel leading into the bay. Camera's primed and ready for action, we pleaded for it to come this way. Our plea's worked! it dived and only popped up right in front of us, some 30ft or so away.
At the time the Grebe appeared there was a stunning golden and blue reflection on the water. This has really enhanced the overall atmosphere of the photo. The vibrant orange/ gold in the head plumage and the bright red eye really jump out thanks to the background.
This fantastic colour soon disappeared, as evident in the above photo. I had seen the Great Crested Grebe before at my local lake but never this close. It soon dived and appeared again further away near the outer reaches of the bay and then after some minutes later vanished altogether. We stayed for a while longer at the hide. During which, in the distance Marsh Harriers were patrolling the reeds, dropping down occasionally and reappearing empty handed.
We decided to move on further into the reserve, heading for the Turf Field Hide. This hide provides a good chance of getting the Kingfisher on specially placed stumps. Upon arrival, some other visitors had informed us we had missed the Kingfisher by about 30 minutes! Oh well, more waiting then. In the end it never showed again.
What had made an appearance was a female Mute Swan tending to her nest to the left of the hide. Several shots were taken until I got the above photo that I was looking to get. I wanted to catch the Swan with its arcing of the neck they do. The wind had really picked up at this time too, pushing cloud overhead fast, again given rise to tricky lighting. We decided to call it a day then, so in all, that trip did provide some action and I would definitely return soon to Stodmarsh.