3:30am. My alarm is going off and as I’ve only had 2 and half hours sleep I feel a little grumpy. But fast forward to 715am and after a two and a half hour drive and a 1.5km walk, I find myself sitting in one of the hides at Snettisham for the first time, eagerly setting up my gear in the dark ahead of the great spectacle of tens of thousands of Knot gathering on the far banks.
Having picked fellow photographer David Lloyd up from his home at 4am, we briskly made our way towards Norfolk. The excitement of what to expect, as neither of us had been before, was keeping us awake and the journey went by pretty quickly but even though we arrived well before first light there were already a few photographers set up in the hide when we walked in. This was said to be the last suitable daylight high tide for winter and as predicted, we weren’t the only ones hoping to make the most of it. As the day slowly started the quality of light remained fairly dull but the sound of camera shutters began to fill the hide as birds began to fill the far bank. A few waves flew in and flew out again but with the bank less than a quarter full the birds stopped arriving. We waited, hoping more knots would fly in, but they didn’t come. We began to hear photographers around us discuss the poor turnout of birds and before me knew it, our once full hide quickly emptied out. It wasn’t even 9am, less than an hour after sunrise, and it was over.
So alas, the spectacle wasn’t quite as spectacular as we had hoped for with low numbers coming in from the mud flats but it was a great taster of what could be expected on a day where the numbers of birds are high. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit and captured a couple of photos which, whilst nothing new in the world of Snettisham Knots, are new to me – and it’s always nice to experience things yourself and see something through your own lens rather than the lens of others. I was also lucky enough to make the Guardian and Telegraphs websites picture of the day sections, and in print in the Telegraph newspaper, so that certainly rounded the experience off nicely!
With very little time to dedicate to my camera recently (decorating and trying to sell a house and move can unfortunately be very time consuming!) Snettisham proved a great way to end the year and I’ll certainly be making return visits! My day in Norfolk was also made all the more entertaining and enjoyable thanks to the company of fellow photographers David Lloyd, Luke Massey and also Ben Andrews, who I met for the first time. Those links take you to their 500px pages. Thank you chaps, always good to ‘talk shop’!