Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Monday, 22 June 2009


It’s ok, it’s not the phone ringing. It’s a village in Hertfordshire, and close by, at Marsworth village there are four reservoirs, called Wilstone, Marsworth, Startops and Tringford. Bordered on one side by the Grand Union Canal, it’s a very popular spot, with canal boats up and down the canal, fishermen fishing the waters, people walking, jogging and enjoying the scenery, and birds. Lots.

I went once before for a quick visit with a friend, a couple of years ago, and bareley scratched the surface of what the place has to offer. Sunday I decided to put that right, and explore on my own. The weather wasn’t perfect by any means, cloudy, with the sun doing its best to poke through at intervals, but I had a great time.
I parked the car, and armed with a map I’d downloaded from the net, I set off.
I had a map; but I still got lost. I could get lost in a paper bag. Hell! Draw a straight line’; I’d still get lost!

Plenty of boats moored along the canal,

and plenty negotiating the numerous locks along the way;

and fishermen.

There was a fishing match going on that day, and they lined various parts of the canal, but mainly along one bank of Marsworth reservoir.

A family of Canada Geese were on the far side of the canal, watching all the comings and goings with as much interest as myself; one in particular keeping a very watchful eye.

A Rabbitt seemed totally unconcerned by all the activity though. He was more interested in breakfast, and the random rays of sunshine warming his fur coat.

I studied my map, and it told me if I follow the path between two of the reservoirs, I would come to the road eventually. Cross this, turn right, and a little way along come to the third piece of water. The fourth was further along; another time for that one I thought.

A female Red Crested Pochard swam by, showing off her new addition to the line.

no sign of the male anywhere, and the shot of the little one?
Hmmmm, I think I lost that one.

There seemed to be a group of Mallards that were ‘crossed’ with something else; I can’t seem to ID these at all.

Most had the white chest, and some were lighter than others,

even the chicks had variations of colour and markings.

Whatever they were, they were quite handsome.

As I neared the end of the path, to approach the road, two more ducks that defy my books.

Oh well, onward.

I reached the road, turned right and walked.
And walked.
No sign of any water, just cars whizzing past my shoulder.
A field of corn was on my right, and standing out like torchlight beams, two Poppies swaying in the breeze; so I wandered over to get a picture.
Back on the road, a bit further. Water on the left; not a large lake, but a river.
I hopped over the stile, and walked along the bank.
Chaffinches were singing everywhere.
Goldfinches twittering as they flew past, and Blackbirds watching my every move, as I must have passed their nesting sites.

Unused, dilapidated boats were tied to the riverbank,

and still no sign of a reservoir. I was lost.
I decided to retrace my steps, and go back where I’d come from. At least I’d found two of the three I was looking for. ‘Not bad for me’, I thought.

The road lay up ahead, with more old boats tied to their resting place.
Back at my starting point, I decided to go along the canal. A Lesser Black-backed Gull gave me an opportunity to practice some flight shots. The Terns were too quick for me, but this chap was just cruising the waters slowly.

I stopped for a while, just watching the boats and birds go by. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

A group of young Reed Warblers were noisily playing chase in the reeds and bushes behind me,

and a Sedge Warbler joined the fun too.

By a small bridge, a pair of Grey Wagtails were cautiously approaching their nest site, with beakfulls of insects for their silent, hungry brood.

A few shots, and I left them to it. It was clear their nest was close by, and me being there was off putting.

It had been a good morning; plenty to see, plenty of friendly people to chat to, but most of all, plenty of birds.

I’ll be back.


  1. Wow! what a great sunday it must have been.Envy you getting to see so many birds.The singing Chaffinche looks good.The Red Crested Pochard and the flight shots are great!We like the expression of the Canada Geese:)

  2. how wonderful I love to walk like this, used to be for exercise now I stop for so many photos I doubt the exercise component is there. your shots of birds are wonderful. I enjoyed this walk from beginning to end.

  3. A whole host of great images keith, the Reed and Sedge and the Wagtail. I think those brown ducks that defied your book are possibly eclipse plumage Tuftis.

  4. Wow, what a great set of photos. I especially loved the Canadian Goose and the little fuzzy babies, and the birds in flight.

    Really awesome photos.

  5. NatureStop, thank you for your comment.
    Those Canada Geese certainly have an air about them, and can give some strange expressions at times.

    Ginger, glad you enjoyed it. The walking should be good for me, but I'm afraid as I get older, it gets more tiring. lol

    Thanks Roy. I think you could be right with the ID on the ducks. I thought at first maybe Ferruginous Duck; but the eye colour was wrong, and no white at the rear.

    Jen, thank you. That Gull gave me some much needed practice for flight shots. I still need to be quicker though. lol

  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing your walk Keith, what a lovely peaceful way to spend a Sunday! Such lovely photos as usual, I loved the Wagtail with its beak full of food for its young. The goose shot was so comical and the gull in flight was lovely. So too was the Chaffinch, the rabbit....I could just list the lot really!

    I'm glad you found your way back okay :) I would probably be still there now, I have no sense of direction whatsoever, it has been a real problem at times!

  7. Thank you ShySongbird, glad you enjoyed it. I had a great time; even getting lost lol
    So much to see and explore. A return is on the cards.

  8. What a wonderful place, and what images you brought back! BTW, I share your navigation skills (or lack thereof).

  9. A wonderfully illustrated walk, Keith - lovely atmosphere. I fancy spending a night or two in one of those old narrow boats.

  10. All so beautiful! That geese looked like he had an especially long neck! Every one of your outings could be published as a photo story in itself.

  11. Helen thank you. I'm glad I'm not alone with my navigation skills lol

    Thanks Rob. The only thing that puts me off those narrow boats is all the locks to negotiate. Had a boating holiday on the broads many years ago, no locks, and it was wonderful.

    Shelley, thank you, very nice of you to say that.

  12. Wonderful voyage of discovery Keith - enjoyed every minute of it. Great pics (goes without saying really!) but really like the Wagtail with its beak full!

    I can get lost just as easily as well!! Pet hate: when I follow the map and it doesn't work - grrrrr Lol

  13. Quite an adventure! Worth the trip I'm betting. Oh, those darn maps make it look so simple but it never is as it appears on paper.
    Glad you made the slip up and got that photo of the poppies...I popped it right on the desk top.

  14. Thanks Tricia, glad you enjoyed the walk.
    Me and maps don't get on very well usually. I got no sense of direction. Some would say no sense, full stop. lol

    Andrea, thank you. It was a good morning, even the slight detour :)

  15. A lovely selection of photo's, Keith! Love that Rabbit, what a great picture.

  16. Wow! What a day of birding you had....so much! I've never seen a Red Crested Pochard. It is a very pretty and understated bird. I really liked her little face. I would love to see a canal like that. Picturesque...

  17. Les, thank you. Appreciate your comment.

    Kelly, thank you. It really was a great day; one I'll have to repeat again soon. I'm sure I only scratched the surface of what is on offer.

  18. The weather was cloudy you say..hang on, we are in the Uk right ? :-) Isn't it mostly always cloudy haha.
    Wow, I went to Tring many moons ago Keith and didn't even own a camera back then. Its definitely a place you can visit many times and still not scratch the surface.
    I always wanted to live in one of those house boats !
    As for your mystery duck, she sure looks like a female Lesser Scaup but without the white band around the base of the bill :

    Lovely pics as always matey.

  19. Cheers Nick. It was our usual summer weather mate, cloud scaring the sun away. I bet you miss it really. ;)
    Had a look at that link, and it certainly looks very similar. The white round the base of the bill looks to be starting to emerge; and the more I look at them side by side, the more I'm inclined to think that's what it is.
    Gonna have to go back, and see if it's still around.
    Thanks for that link.

  20. Could that duck be a rarity over there then Keith ? Good luck and I hope you locate it again !
    I didn't hunt for the Mockingbird today, but will try tomorrow :-)
    Have a good night mate !