Although birding has its share of surprises you find yourself repeating some activities every year and you know exactly how it is going to pan out. End of January and it's time to head over to Petworth Park to look for the Goosanders.
I love to see them but it is always a frustrating trip. There is very little cover around the lake and Goosanders tend to be very wary, staying well away from people. Poke your head up to take a picture and all you get is the backend as they disappear across the lake. Strangely dog walkers can be quite useful here. They can be a bit annoying when they wander over to ask you what you are looking for but one walking round the far side of the lake can often flush the birds towards you.
It is always difficult to get decent pictures of the Goosanders. On the male, the contrast between the black and white plumage is difficult for the camera to deal with and the green gloss on the head is only visible in good light. The red head females are easier but on this occasion the two I saw both stayed close to the island in heavy cover, only venturing out to chase the males away. So true to form I came away with the usual record shots and I still don't have a decent picture of a male Goosander.