Not having been out with the camera for ages I was so desperate on Saturday morning I set off to Ice Station Draycote Water having first layered up to try and survive a couple of hours in the intense cold you can get there.I chose Draycote because earlier in the week the Great Northern Diver,a drake Smew and a Red- breasted Merganser had all been seen near the Spit.
Got there at 10.00 AM and parked up in a busy car park.It was pretty cold cold as I walked along the Farborough bank but it was sunny and fairly calm.Didn't see much till I got near the Spit where the Great Northern Diver was performing well not that far out.
I couldn't see the Smew or the Red-breasted Merganser and all the birders I spoke to hadn't seen either of them.I then decided to take a bit of a risk and walk all the way down to the hide at Toft to see if they were down there.It's a risk for me because the hide is at the very limit of my range and going any further would pass the point of no return and to get back to the car park the air ambulance would have to be summoned.
It was while scanning the far bank from the hide I spotted the Smew.It was there the good news ended because despite a patient wait the miserable so and so remained close to the far bank the whole time.This is all I got.
Every year in the winter a drake Smew visits Draycote Water and I always wonder if it's the same one.Here are shots taken in 2009 and 2011.
As I was feeling peckish and it was nearly lunchtime I set off back to the car.The wind had got up by this time and the water was getting pretty rough but it was till sunny so the crowds had rolled in mainly consisting of families with young children.
I do not complain at this as they have as much right as us birders to be there but what I do complain about and am amazed Heath and Safety allow it is the cyclists that use the same path as us pedestrians.Often these cyclists are large chaps racing along trying to beat their best time.It is very dangerous because you can't hear them coming.I had a few close encounters on Saturday.Very worrying.