Last winter, I set myself the task of shooting avocets for 2020VISION. They’re brilliant little birds; stunning black and white plumage and a long thin bill that subtlety turns up at the end which they sway side to side in shallow waters to find invertebrate crunchies. Images of avocets aren’t exactly rare so I tried to be different by putting an urban spin on them. That doesn’t mean to say I tried to photograph them in central London, I just tried to show them along side man rather than in a picture perfect, untouched estuary, on the Norfolk coast.
My location was Brownsea Island in Poole, luckily just a ten minute drive from my house! The island is located near to the entrance of Poole harbour, housing a lagoon packed with winter waders and waterfowl. As it’s near the entrance to one of the south coast’s major harbours, a whole host of boats go past, including the enormous Brittany ferries.
Sitting in hides for hours on end in the cold did get a bit uncomfortable at times. In early January it was so cold that the entire lagoon froze solid, not a single avocet could be seen out of the 1,200 that were reported there the day before – typical! While I sat there in a sulk, watching a stunning sunrise with no avocets to photograph in front of it, already shivering despite wearing 92 layers of clothes, I was suddenly cheered up. Why? Not only because a moorhen had just ran past on the ice and fallen comically on its face, I’d remembered the chocolate brownies in my bag- result!
Over the course of the afternoon, it warmed up from the barmy -9 degrees C it had been at sunrise and so the ice began to melt. With the melting came the avocets, first just a dribble but an hour before sunset, they were pouring in. A magical site, I can’t wait to go back!