Sunday, 20 January 2019

All Quiet

Today began at 6.00 as I sat at my laptop, catching up on overnight bits and bobs and with a beautiful full moon shining in the window in front of me. A frost that was quite intense in the middle of the night when I got up for a toilet break, had begun to lessen as a degree of cloud cover had appeared. It's a frustrating time of the year, a month after the Shortest Day and yet I'm found still hanging around indoors waiting for the first glimmers of daybreak so I can go out. That became apparent at just after 7.00 and I set off for the reserve, arriving there as the eastern sky was showing a wide range of yellows, pinks, oranges, although the actual sun rise was still almost an hour away. The large flock of White-fronted Geese (350+) that had been roosting overnight on the flooded scrape on the reserve must of sensed that I was there and got up with a huge clamouring of their very musical and beautiful calls. They flew quite low over my head in the half light, wheeled round and took up their usual day-time place in a stubble field on the next door farmland.
Very high above me as I headed towards the sea wall, came the plaintive calls of a circling Marsh Harrier, while lower down several other Marsh Harriers drifted slowly across the reserve, fresh out of overnight roost sites in various reed beds.
Up onto the sea wall in the increasing light and a quick scan along the saltings to see how many wildfowlers were out enduring the freezing conditions in their pursuit of wildfowl meals, just the one, who never fired a shot the whole time that he was there - wonder why it's always a he, and never a she wildfowler, more sense I suppose.
 Some way further along the sea wall I could see the distant figure of a fellow birdwatcher, one I had expected, and I spent some time walking along to join up with him. He'd been there last night until after dark to count in the roosting Hen Harriers on the saltings and achieved one of the best counts for some time - probably two male HH's and three female HH's. He was there this morning in the dark to count them back out as it became light. As we stood there talking and watching the sun beginning to rise above the hills to the east, the reserve and surrounding farmland looked almost Springlike with it's green fields and blue skies, only the cold temperatures spoiled that effect. We also discussed the absence of so many bird varieties and indeed the very low numbers of birds that has become apparent over the last few years. Low water levels has to be the most obvious reason, wetland bird species need large areas of part-flooded marshland to find such sites attractive and that continues to not be the case and to be honest, doesn't look realistic either in the near future.
We parted and my dog and I made our way back across the reserve, four Snipe got up from one ditch, as did several Mallard and I could hear the Whitefronts calling in the distance but that in all honesty was pretty much it until I got back to the car. There, I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in a nearby farm copse and a Shetland Pony that someone had left in a farm field alongside the reserve, came forward for the carrots that I give it every morning. It had been a beautiful but quiet walk round the reserve and now heading home too where people were still just waking up, unaware of the day that had already taken place..

15 comments:

  1. Derek, what a beautifully written, evocative piece of writing. You painted such a lovely picture of your walk, of the landscape, of the birds you saw - I wished I had been there by your side. Thank you for that it has brightened my day.

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  2. Nicely put, Derek. The best part of the day for me too, although other parts have their charm as well.

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  3. I was watching some snipe yesterday on our local reserve, but have never seen Jack Snipe. I'll have to look up the Bird Reports to see if they have been recorded here.
    Nice post.

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  4. Thanks Pat, Wilma and Gwil, glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. Jack Snipe are regular winter visitors in this country. One of their most obvious identification things is the fast bobbing acting of their heads, a bit like a sewing machine needle.

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  6. Lovely report Derek, as a reguar visitor to the other end of your reserve, I can see almost all of your words in my minds eye as I read it. And those wildfowlers are a very hardy breed, so little return for all the effort they put in. Wonderful to know there are now five Hen Harriers there.

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  7. It was me Derek, Bryan Benn aka Kent Yeti. Don't know why Google now classes me as unknown!

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  8. It's all that creeping about in the dark that you do Bryan, people don't really know who you are.

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  9. I've not been over to your blog in a while, and reading this post made me realise how much I'm missing out on. Your writing really takes the reader along on your walks - all in the comfort of a warm room instead of the cold temperatures you brave when you go out so early in the morning!

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  10. Thank you very much Librarian, so glad that you enjoy my scribbles.

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