Woaw, almost 3 weeks without posting anything. Unfortunately, I had to put the camera on the side for a bit and do some proper work on my PhD... I had the opportunity to use my camera to do a bit of birding and some handball shooting last Saturday to drop the pressure,...
As usual my supervisors suddenly gave me a hell lot of work at the last minute... I should have better anticipated it, they usually all agree on certain points and suddenly (generally 6 months later) they just realise that they are not happy anymore with the work and I have to start over from scratches. This time it was on lovely statistics,... For those who know R coding, well I spent a good week reworking all the stats of one dedicated chapter using that lovely coding language... Had be tempted to show you the script and graphs but I'll keep that "privilege" to myself...
By the way I'm not in the South of France anymore. I have now moved back to the "North" of France, in a small town called Ronchin. Still busy with the PhD and finishing my second publication and hopefully submitting that damn "sh**" by the end of the year... Anyway that's enough PhD talk...
The good thing with changing location is that you also change of photographic subjects, and I said subjects, not themes,... Getting involved in a new handball club means new places and people to discover and photograph. But as what actually drove me into photography is bird watching, I could not start without going into a good bird watching/photography session.
Therefore, as usual on an early morning, (wildlife photographers always have an early start in the day), we decided to head up to the "Marais de la Marque" and check on the remaining species, the one that did not migrate over the last weeks (summer end migration).
Big surprise was to realise how much water had gone over the summer ! When I left back in June there were about 6/7 bassins full of water and today only one, the main one was half-full. The only could point I could see with that was that the other bassins being empty, most of the birds gathered into that main one. On the down side, that means less food and shelters available for the birdies...
The main bassin is a great location because it offers a large observation cabin for birders and other curious people. Unlikely, that day they were loads of bird watchers/photographers in the hide. Don't get me wrong I'm not one of these "this is my spot" guy and I always enjoy a good chat with other passionates but what I hate is noisy people that don't respect the others. One of the photographers present that day belonged to that category. I'm gonna be very sarcastic about him but I think the guy was actually trying to impress the other photographer, who was a quiet lady trying to keep her voice down while the other was playing the alpha with is "big lense" (a 500mm first generation from Sigma). Anyway, on that special day bird did not approached the hide as much as we had experienced before on "quiet" days with respectful birders. For the record, once we even had a bird landing on the actual cabin observation bench, quiet day... Anyway I still managed to get some decent shots of the birds. From a species point of view, nothing really crazy, I'd say the usual birds present on the swamp with the exception of the grebes that were missing. A huge concentration of herons (counted about 12 at the same time) while generally you get up to may be 3 at a time.
I'm not a big fan of herons, I mean as photographic subject. Again, I'm gonna sound "big headed" but they don't give me anymore the thrill of my first wildlife pictures probably because I have seen so many and I think that pictures of them always look the same. BUT... on that special day, I had some kind of pleasant light and I thought I would take a shot anyway because they are still very intriguing birds (physically) to me.
Despite the numerous herons, we did also observed a bit further away from us two groups of waders (around 15) gathering along the shore and picking in the water. My very first look at some Common snipes not that common in the South of France, at least not on my usual observation spots.
As just said it was my first sighting of Common snipe so I was quite (and quietly) excited but at the same time frustrated not being able to get a better look and shot of them. But among the few things that wildlife photography taught me is 1) that you have to be patient and 2) that Nature only decides... That day mother Nature was in a good mood as two of the snipes decided to come a bit closer to the hide and allowed me "a decent shot".
Luckily the rising sun provided a bit more light and allowed me to increase my shutter speed up to 640s, preventing a bit more the blur on the picture.
Among other birds we also had the chance to follow a couple of long-tailed tits, robin, wren, chifchaff, dunnock and moorhens with their grown up chicks/juveniles.
That's pretty much it for the bird observation side of that day... We did stay for another hour but nothing amazing popped out, appart from that bloody kingfisher that we always see but never get the chance to photograph. The damn "bast***" is to fast and never settle down on a great spot.
In the afternoon, I went to a handball game to meet with Erwann , one of the managers of the new club I'm suppose to play with , and also take my first shots for the club. It was kid game (under 11 years old) so I'm not gonna put many pictures of them, as I know some parents might be a bit annoyed/annoying having child picture ending up on a random guy website and that's fair.
Overall it was quite a good game, with the Melantois Handball Club (my new club) crushing their opponent with a 26 goals Vs 2...
This weekend I'll get a chance to shoot 4 games over the afternoon but won't have time to do some birding as I'm having another large piece of work to finish... it sucks... I'm hoping to get a chance to try new spots, maybe a little trip in a forest... so many ideas and not enough time as usual.