Light drizzle quickly turned to heavier rain, and I kept wondering if I should turn back; go another day. Nah! Sod it, I’m up now………..I carried on.
I pulled into the car park, just as daylight struggled its way through the rain. I had the place to myself, not so surprising, given the weather. A couple of Fieldfare were gorging on berries, hanging from the bushes, and a Blackbird noisily flew across the empty parking area.
And the rain stopped.
I walked up towards the large lake; about a 5-mile circuit I think. By the new visitor centre, (closed), are lots of sailing boats.
Water sports is quite a feature of this place,
but what I’d come to see, were the birds.
This is only a part of the lake, but it gives an idea of what sort of day it was. Dull and misty.
And then it started raining again.
I turned, and began to walk round the lake, anticlockwise. I don’t know why, but I prefer it that way. In the short distance from the car to the edge of the bank surrounding this lake, I’d counted off 15 different birds already. Nothing rare or exotic, no birds I’d never seen before anywhere else; even at my local, just up the road from me, but I had an air of………excitement. The unknown. I didn’t know what I might see.
I’d read on their website, a Green-winged Teal was loitering at one end of the lake. That would be new to me. Would I see it? I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter, I’d already seen more Little Grebes and pairs of Goldeneye than I’d ever seen in one place before. Coots bobbed in the water with Mallards and Tufted Ducks, Pied Wagtails searched the shoreline with Grey Wagtails, and in a distant field a large flock of gulls. Big, black and white ones. Lesser, or Greater-black Backed ones.
Remember, I’m no Gull expert, but they were there. And there, in the tree tops, sat a Kestrel,
looking mighty fed up with the weather. The rain was coming down hard now, as I carried on. I stopped to scan the lake with the binoculars. Great Crested Grebe were diving for fish, along with the Cormorants, and an Oystercatcher flew up, and crossed to the other side. He must have been on the shore, just in front of me; and I missed him.
And just in front of me, an elderly Chinese woman, briskly walking along in the rain, wearing a splendid blue hat. I smiled, and nodded, as she passed.
‘I’m not the only daft bugger walking around in this rain’, I thought.
I stopped to scan the trees and bushes on my right. Chaffinch, Blue Tit, and a small party of Long Tailed Tits, noisily flitting from branch to branch. Rain wasn’t stopping their fun; and it wasn’t stopping mine either. Just making it difficult to take pictures.
I watched them for a while, and then slowly made my way up towards the top end of the lake.
Teal were noisily dabbling in the shallow edges, and Lapwing noisily took to the air, announcing my arrival. I watched as they swirled around, and eventually came back down, settling where they were originally. And just up ahead, a bird hide. Somewhere to sit for a while. I looked back the way I’d come, and it seemed a long way off. I still had a long way to go yet, but the rain had slowed, and eventually stopped. For a while.
I carried on towards the hide. On my right were some trees, so I wandered through them, to see if any birds were hiding in there. The ground was muddy, the bare branches dripping raindrops, but no birds. I came out, and walked to the boardwalk that led to the hide. Coming round the corner was Chinese lady, still briskly walking, as though on a mission of great importance.
‘Excuse me.’ I said. ‘Does the path go right round the lake?’
‘Yes, all tarmac road.’ she answered, as she faded into the distance. Bloody hell, that woman could walk fast. She’d done a circuit already, and I had barely done a quarter.
She must be fit. I lit a cigarette.
I raised the bins, and scanned the shoreline. The dark blobs suddenly turned into Teal. Green-winged Teal in there? I chucked the smoke, and walked down the boards to the hide door. I carefully opened it, and stepped inside.
Empty. Of course. There’s only me and Chinese woman here today; and she’s on a different mission to me. I gazed out across the water. Lots of Teal and Black-headed Gulls bobbing, more on the far side, and Lapwings. I carefully opened a window. To the right, a feeder with Tits and Finches taking advantage of the free food, and below,
three Mallard, gazing upwards, waiting for any dropped seed. They looked comical, standing there, waiting for the leftovers. And when the little birds flew to the bushes, they dropped their heads in disappointment.
Some distance from the hide, were some branches, near the waters edge. Why is it that most hides are so bloody far away from the water? Because sitting on a branch, was a Kingfisher. Now I’ve yet to get a decent shot of one of these. I set myself a personal target this year, to capture one on camera. I fired off some shots, but even cropped, with the poor light, my efforts came to nothing. He flew from branch to branch; posed, then flew back again. I tried. I really did.