Picked Pete up just before 9.00am and we headed off to Draycote Reservoir. Two Black Necked Grebes had been reported there a couple of times in the week and I hoped they may still be there. Also, there is a long staying drake Smew that I fancied seeing.
We arrived at Draycote just before 10.00am and started getting the kit out of the car. Another birder was just returning and loading his kit back into his car. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him if the Black Necked Grebes were still around. He told me they were, and not only that, they could be viewed from about 200 yards from where we were standing. He pointed us in the right direction and less than five mins later, we were looking a two Black Necked Grebe.
I tried in less than perfect conditions to get pictures, but it was not to be on this occasion. They were too far out for my camera, so I attempted to take pictures through my spotting scope using my iPhone. Not a chance! The birds were diving at very regular intervals, by the time they were in the scope, scope focused, phone held to eyepiece, they had disappeared beneath the surface again. This combined with the snow, that was now falling heavily and starting to settle beat me.
Snow starting to settle
As we walked along the the side of the Reservoir, periodically stopping to scan the vast expanse of water in front of us, we eventually spotted the Smew. The snow had stopped and it had got a little brighter. The Smew was also a lot closer than the Grebes, so again it was time to try for pictures. Initially, the Smew was diving so regularly, it was obviously going to be near impossible to get a picture through the scope. So, out with the camera. Even with the camera, with distances varying from 40 - 60 yards, it wasn't easy. But, with perseverance and very cold hands, I achieved some acceptable shots.
I even managed a short video.
Once we had seen what we came for, we spent some time just enjoying the surroundings, birding, and chatting with a couple of locals. I also managed to warm my hands up enough to take a few pictures through my scope, handholding my phone to the eyepiece. This is fast becoming a secondary interest to me. I enjoy this form of digiscoping.
I attempted a few shots, these two are my best iscoped of the morning.
Iscoped Smew (eventually)
Back in the car and heaters on full by 12.00pm. An enjoyable mornings birding.