I’m not a bird photographer even if I occasionally take pictures of birds. So it’s very rare that I go out specifically with the intention of photographing birds, but today it happened. Mostly because there’s nothing else on offer at the moment… it’s getting greener but it’s not green enough yet. Anyway, when the aim is to find birds (or other wildlife), the best place is Mon. This is the place where I’ve seen moose on several occasions and where a badger once ran so close to my legs I could feel it. And where a bumblebee stuck me. Almost every time I’ve been down to Mon, something special has happened. So when I got down to the fields, I had the camera ready – I wasn’t going to miss any opportunity!
No birds in the fields, so I walked through and when I got closer to the water, I slowed down and looked carefully – and saw a pair of cranes! I quickly got down on my knees and started cursing at the bush in front of me, because it made it very difficult to focus on the birds. While I was trying to peak through the branches, I found a pair of whooper swans in the water and a moment later, another pair of swans further out. Mon delivers again! But I still had that stupid bush to fight with, so I’m just happy the camera would focus at all, although of course the birds are less than sharp because of the diffused foreground (it’s so diffused that you can’t really see it in the pictures after the PP, but but it’s definitely there).
Although the birds were quite calm, they were clearly aware of me (I’m sure they knew I was there before I saw them) but then when I tried to crawl sideways to get around the bush, the swans took off and a moment later, the cranes followed.
I followed the direction of the swans, I thought I heard some calls and had an idea of where they could be. When I could see the water through the trees, sure enough, something was moving! But when I got a better look, it wasn’t the swans but a pair of goosander instead. I had nothing against that at all, so now the only question was how to get closer. I pulled back into the forest and approached the water from the side, until I got the birds in view again. With the ground being dry, I ended up lying down completely and then crawled on my belly until I was behind the last tree that offered any protection. The birds didn’t mind me at all though, in fact, just when I got to the best shooting position, they started sleeping. With the show thus over, I disappeared into the forest again.
I got back to my planned route and every time I got close to any pools of water, I looked carefully before proceeding. I didn’t see anything else until the last spot, where I found a pair of goldeneyes. They were too far and too small to shoot, but then I spotted something closer by but couldn’t really make it out with naked eye. I used the 600mm as binoculars and as soon as I got that “something” in focus, it lifted its head and transformed into a teal! Wow.
I got up from Mon, so amazed with all the birds I had seen that I felt like anything was possible now. I went over the road and then down on the north side, to Beaver Island (it’s not really called Beaver Island but I call it that because of all the beaver activity there). Again, a pair of goldeneyes which inevitably flew off the moment I saw them, and then nothing. I followed the water’s edge until I came to a spot which is covered with fallen trees and bushes and it’s so difficult to get through that it required all my attention. At one point though, I glanced up and saw a red bird that I couldn’t recognise. To make matters worse, there were a whole lot of branches in front so all I could do was to take a picture that would at least help me to identity the bird. So looking at the picture, it’s either a parrot crossbill or a common crossbill. Those darn things are nearly identical… but since I have odds on my side if I say it’s a common crossbill, then I say it’s a common crossbill. For me it doesn’t really matter which one it is, because I’ve never seen a crossbill of any kind!
After this encounter, it was time to leave the river and get back up in the forest. As I was walking home, I was thinking that this wasn’t a good a hike. It was a freakin’ awesome hike!