Tuesday 14 July 2009

Staying Local

The forecast for Norfolk on Saturday looked hopeful. While the rest of the country was under a band of cloud and rain, it seemed to be clear for the majority of the day. Going on my estimates based on the weather forecast online, the rain would hit the Midlands by midday, so wouldn't be in the east until I was heading home.

So I went to Norfolk right? Well, I was up at 5am, showered and was about to get dressed when I heard that pitter-patter of rain on the conservatory roof. My heart sank and checking the forecast online again, the band of rain was further ahead than expected, so it would be pretty pointless driving for 3 hours to get maybe a couple of hours of brightness in Norfolk.

I went back to bed.

Instead, I thought I would pop over to a couple of local reserves, Marsh Lane first. I've not been much recently, and the reports of a garganey were tempting. Might have guessed it had left though! No-one had seen it that morning, so I headed towards the Oak Hide. Stopping at the viewing screens by the lakes, I was chuffed to see a juvenile sedge warbler hopping amongst the reeds.

There were reed warblers too, but as ever, they stayed out of sight. A little grebe hurried across the lake towards me, mooched around in the reeds below, before being spooked by something, and scuttling off again. Then I had a very brief glimpse of a water rail, which turned tail and legged it.

Down near the railway track I disturbed what I guess must have been a partridge, as it was too small for a pheasant and the tail was too short. It flew away quickly and vanished under the bridge. Over the lake, a redshank was circling its territory, and provided a bit of a challenge to photograph in the poor light.

By the feeders was a juvenile jackdaw; a crow I've not got many shots of. It was very obliging and I knelt down right next to it, to get some detailed shots.

If Marsh Lane had been quiet, Upton Warren was desolate! Someone had removed the kingfisher perches (again). No idea why. The Water Rail hide is normally empty even on a busy day, so why people feel the need to prevent photographers from enjoying their passion is beyond me. Selfish.

So no sign of the kingfishers, and only a pair of mink fishing and the momentary glimpse of a swimming grass snake lightened the mood. I felt sorry for a few forum friends who'd travelled down from oop norf to hopefully see the kingfishers and had missed out. But that's bird photography for you...

Stopping off on the way home in Lea End, I managed to locate the resident little owl in its oak tree, and got a few shots of it, as it mooched around in the gloom of the tree, glaring down at me and passersby. The eye-markings and shape of its head just remind me of a Star Wars character - like a Storm Trooper perhaps. Anyway, was a good end to a mixed day.

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