The standard diving bird approach is usually adopted for getting out on to the platform. This involves moving whilst the bird is underwater and stopping as soon as it surfaces, repeat until you have got to where you want to be. Once your out on the platform safely it is actually fairly unpleasant lying down on the green slime and bird plop gloop that coats the wooden planks. As they say though if it was easy it would not be fun.
The other sawbill species I have spend several sessions with now is the Goosander (I have a feeling you may call these Common Merganser in the USA). They are impressive birds and notoriously difficult to get close to. For these birds I travel for about 2 hours into an upland lake in North Wales where on a particular lake you can usually find a group of around 10 birds.
This group of birds is very unusual in that they have a developed a love for eating bread from the frequent feeding of this large lake's waterfowl population by visitors. I have tried to feed them their normal diet of fish but if given the choice they go for the bread every time. This of course makes the photography much less of a challenge.
The really are beautiful looking birds and of a much tidier appearance than the Red-Breasted Merganser. The male are a difficult bird to photograph well just because of their very bright white flanks, that is sometimes flushed with a pink wash, and their dark heads that change from black to green depending on the light direction.
I have always really enjoyed my days photographing the Goosander as it has always coincided with high pressure conditions resulting in clear skies and a still lake in a stunning location on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.
My last visit was in February this year. In fact it was my birthday which for the last few years I have taken the day off work for a photography session which helps take my mind off how quickly another year has passed. The main purpose of my trip this year was to try and capture some Goosander in flight for the first time. This is not easy photography as they fly incredibly fast just above the lake surface. Anyway after spending the whole day their I eventually managed to get some photos.
I have now built up a good library of images of these sawbills but I am sure as winter progresses the urge to photograph them will return, particularly with the goosander, and I will find myself heading to the hills once more.