Myself, Matt Newman and Daniel Trim visited Upper Hollesley Common in Suffolk on a gorgeous bright sunny Sunday last weekend, it was the warmest day of the year and we hoped that the warm dry weather would result in plenty of birds visiting some of the puddles on site that so far have proven essential drinking sites.
The main species we hoped to photograph were the Common Crossbills that require a good source of water due to their very dry diet of pine cones. The day wasn't as easy as we thought it would be, 2 puddles were being visited but we wanted to concentrate our efforts on 1 puddle as that puddle had the best light on it and also had the best background, we also wanted to get as low as possible, something that other photographers didn't seem keen on but we didn't think standing up with camera on a tripod or even having the tripod low-ish wouldn't lend itself to dynamic images as much as if we got flat to the ground.
The sun took a while to hit "our" puddle and even then a pair of Crossbills would only visit for a drink once an hour, this meant our necks and backs were taking alot of strain! However, when a bird did land we were the closest we have ever been to these fantastic birds and couldn't believe how big and chunky these finches actually were compared to the tiny Siskins that were also coming down to drink. Being a sunny Sunday the site was in constant use by other photographers, birdwatchers, walkers, groups of children, families and even ponies, this constant disturbance meant that often birds would look like they were about to come down to drink only to bottle it due to someone walking past the puddle and then we'd have to wait even longer for our 20 seconds to photograph, it was tricky and you had to be patient!
The second puddle was further from the car park and we did decide to give it a go, it was far more productive in terms of having more birds coming down more regularly but the light is never that nice on this puddle and the background and ugly mud colour all made images a little uglier but this puddle did yield more images and a beautiful male did land here only feet away from me. Overall it was a good day, nice to make use of such a great day for light and amazing to be so close to such a brilliant UK species and get some images of it. Enjoy!