Tuesday morning, bright and early, I met Trevor, and we set off on our quest.
We pulled into the car park at Paxton Pits, just after 5:30 a.m.
Not another car there; we had the place to ourselves, to begin with.
As we left the car park, the sun was beginning its climb up the sky, and promising to be a good day. We hoped the birds were going to be promising too.
We'd come to look for Nightingales, amongst others, and the sound in the distance confirmed they were there. Some Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls screamed overhead, and as we got to the waters edge, we watched for a while, as they performed their aerial antics.
They were not the only ones flying around the lake. Cormorants were busily backwards and forwards,
and seemed to be nesting in every tree.
A distant Cuckoo could be heard; and a Nightingale.
We walked on, following the long path that circles the lake, stopping off at the various hides, and searching the bushes for that elusive bird.
We heard it everywhere, but it remained tantalisingly invisible.
More Cuckoo calling, but no sign; and the sound of Blackcap, or Garden Warbler.
They sound so similar. Eventually we found one.
We later found out from the warden, there were more Garden Warblers than Blackcap. Plenty of Whitethroat too.
Not just birds flying around either.
A stunning immature male, Scarce Chaser dragonfly. A first for me.
And this unusual looking chap, like an elongated Ladybird
A Froghopper; Cercopis vulnerata. Thanks to Trevor's in the field ID.
Finally, after much searching, we found our Nightingale. A devil of a job to track down.
Not the best of pictures; they just were not being showy at all.
We stood in front of this huge bush/tree for ages scanning with our eyes, searching for the elusive bird. I was a few feet away, being deafened by the song, and Trevor had stood back a bit.Finally he whispered, "There!"
Well, again, not the best footage, but at least we eventually saw him.
On we went, along the path that eventually runs beside the quarry, and beyond.
We heard them as we walked, as though they were teasing with their calls. Suddenly two flew low overhead, and through the gap in the trees, against a clear blue sky, we were treated to fantastic views as they flew by, calling.
Pictures? Don't be silly. We were too busy watching, and it happened too quickly to get a shot; but what a sight. The sun shone through the wings and tail, and highlighted the markings better than any text book. Superb!
Eventually, back at the car, the car park had filled considerably.
A coffee in the visitor centre, and then we set off round the smaller area, across the road.
Willow Warblers singing everywhere,
and a Cetti's Warbler calling from deep within some scrub.We finally caught sight of it, as it flew from one bush to another.
Cuckoo's calling all the time, as we walked the path through the meadow.
A Kestrel hovered overhead, a Buzzard was escorted from the area by a couple of Crows, and then,
Cuckoo. They drove us cuckoo too. Up to three were flying around, calling, and chasing each other; and at times, looking like they were locked in combat.A nightmare to get pictures off, but amazing to watch.
As we stood at the waters edge, of one of the small ponds, we watched a Reed Bunting, a few feet away, hopping through the reeds. Suddenly he flew towards us, and landed briefly in the bush next to me. As quickly as he landed, he was back to the safety of the reeds; with lunch.
A dragonfly, or damselfly? We were amazed at the speed, and accuracy of this bird. And his eyesight, to see the 'fly' in the bush, at that distance, and ignore us, and snatch his quarry, like some expert member of the SAS. Stunning.
As we walked back towards the car park, we stopped off by the river, to take in the last of what the reserve had to offer that day.
Cuckoos still calling, warblers still warbling, and the sun shining on a Swan, that was just doing what swans do.
A fantastic day, in excellent company.
Thanks Trevor; we must do it again.