Pauline say's .... 'Happy New Year to everyone! We've done our duty over the festive season but (bah humbug!) thank goodness its now done with and we can get back to normal!! Being under 'starters orders' and feeling stir crazy from being indoors, when the last weather forecast of the evening came and went on New Years Night and it was still saying a bright day for the 2nd Jan, we jumped to with a very last minute decision to try the high tide at Southport, so the alarm was set for 6am for an 8am off!' It proved to be the right decision for me though Ian ended up binning his later at home - the 7D just isn;t fast enough for decent flight shots - it beats me when its crop factor combined with the 600 lens is on a fairly static or slow moving subject - but my 1dmk4 comes into its own with fast wader flight provided the light is good enough and it was my turn to 'shine'!
We got there and set off onto the beach but I've been very chesty for weeks so couldn;t walk very far especially as I had brought the 500 lens, so I went a scant hundred yards and decided if it didn;t happen in front of me then that was too bad! The water was coming fast despite it being only just gone 9 and the tide was 12-ish ... I climbed the steps of a metal structure on the beach for starters while I weighed up what was happening. The birds were flying northerly up the coast so I climbed back down, heaved the camera over my shoulder and set off towards Southport ... I got about 100 yards before I was so short of breath that I had to stop ... I could see a little knot of Sanderling gathering and I watched some huge flocks a mile or more away swirling and twisting around. Ian carried on up the beach and almost disappeared.
The water got nearer and more flocks of oystercatcher and dunlin went past. Finally around 10.30 stuff was realistically close enough for me to start taking shots - I particularly wanted flight shots against a bright rough sea so everything that came in range I took a short burst of 5 or 6 shots. The tide reached me and twice I had to move smartly up the beach: looking over my shoulder I could see it was also coming in further behind me though at no point could it cut me off! I made sure of that!! The beach must have been getting covered in a lot of places by 11 and flocks of waders were going both directions up and down the beach. A gang of sanderling which had been in front and slightly left of me was getting pushed higher and towards me - so I took several gentle steps in little bursts towards them: they were watching but didn't jump and fly off.
They were now being joined by other groups including a few knott, turnstone, black-tailed godwits and most importantly about 12 -15 grey plover! They have been a bogey bird for me over the years - they always seem to roost in places I can;t get to .... I got two chances at these - the few on the floor were not close enough - but when a skein arrived and tried to land before taking fright at the number of folk about walking with children and dogs and retaking flight I was ready and followed the action as they went off along the tideline towards Formby! Despite having my mind on the job and following the action only one shot was truly clear and crisp, the rest were just slightly out .... but you know what they say - you only need one and the jobs a 'good 'un'!!
Suddenly it was all over - I say suddenly - my phone clock said we had been there over 4 hours! Ian had come back and watched me for a while before coming over, the tide was receding and the birds were retreating with it. Despite how busy it had been - countless numbers of folks walking past all the time - most had taken a deliberate detour around me and for that I was grateful. However, there;s always one - well actually two - a family with a very yappy Bichon Frise which 'rushed' me and I ignored it - they just stood and watched it run in mad yapping circles round me .... when I took no notice they eventually called it off. The last one would have been really annoying had it happened any sooner in the day - a chap with a German Shepherd and a big stick came up the tideline and scared off the quite noticeable group of, by this stage, sleeping sanderling .... I wanted to shout something very rude (similar to 'plonker' ...) but I bit my tongue and turned for the car instead ....'