Despite having been to Abberton Res twice, I've managed to avoid going to Hanningfield. Today I put that right.
Parus and I were very kindly chauffered by his better half, and we set off at a reasonable hour for a Sunday morning hoping to pick up some interesting Grebes and Divers. As ever, what we actually got was cold and wet. Hanningfield was very quiet, with a couple of large flocks of Teal and Wigeon the only real winter-waterfowl action. I did manage to see my first Goldeneye of the year with about 6 of them out there, 3 of the males displaying like mad to the females, and a smart looking male Pintail being followed around by two females (which kept falling through the ice - it made me chuckle). I had the camera with me and got a couple of record shots of both species, but with light levels as low as they were, the iso had to be whacked right up so there's a fair bit of noise.
Suffice to say, it wasn't really suitable recompense for how cold and wet we were getting, so we headed back to Essex and had a pub lunch (which was very pleasant).
Once the hot food had worked its magic we felt up to a quick jaunt to Ingrebourne where the gods of birding, obviously greatly pleased at our persistence, threw the 3 White Fronted Geese and Red Crested Pochard at us practically from the car park and saw to it that our visit was uninterrupted by inclement weather. That's 2 life ticks for me, and it was nice to see that 2 minutes after we got back into the car the sky started chucking hailstones at us. Timed to perfection. No pictures of Ingrebourne from me, but something might turn up over at Parus's blog when he gets his arse in gear.
The photography conditions were far from perfect, but this year I'm determined to get off of Automatic and to properly learn the aperture and shutter control modes, so I made a concerted effort. Actually, I'm quite pleased with the results. The birds are at least identifiable. The Goldeneye picture has been rescued slightly in GIMP as they are distant and it helps. The other two have just been cropped.
Very pleased with those Teal given the light levels. Maybe I've learned something.