Sunday, 4 July 2010

A frustrating day – time for a whinge

I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it, getting up at a ridiculous time in the morning, on your day off, braving the elements, to catch a glimpse of that elusive wildlife many will never see – a Fox briefly crossing your path, a Kingfisher flashing past along the river.  This weekend was one of those times where nothing seemed to go right and as a result, I wasn’t going to bother with a post this week.  Up at 5.00 am, I decided to revisit Havannah Nature Reserve where a month ago I had photographed a family of Coots, but I had also hoped by getting up early enough, I might also photograph the Foxes there before human activity.  With the year already more than half over, I haven’t managed to photograph a single Fox, not that I think they have become anymore rarer, just more elusive or in some instances, they seemed to have moved from the normal places I would go to see them.

Having previously checked over the area I knew where a large amount of Rabbits lived from which led a narrow path back to where I believed the area where the Foxes den was, so any Foxes hunting there from early morning, would almost certainly return this way.  I waited in an area where I would see anything coming and an ideal photographic setting.  Sure enough, I didn’t have to wait long as in the distance I could see a Fox coming up the path so I lay down in a dip in the path so the Fox wouldn’t see me and focused on a point where it would come into view and waited.  After a while I figured it should have been here by now, then heard someone shouting to their dog, looked up and saw a person with their two dogs walking where the Fox had been.  Obviously it had now gone.  I admit, I was just a little miffed that at 6.50 am, just at the time the Fox was about to enter frame, at this particular remote part of the reserve, someone would come charging in.  A deep breath, and I moved on to my next planned spot.

Five minutes away was a place where the Rabbits were reasonably approachable from a distance and when I arrived there were a number of them, particularly young ones, grazing in the early morning sunlight, perfectly lighting them for a photograph not to mention the ‘cute factor’.  I lay down with my camera and as they settled I slowly crawled towards them.  Each time they seemed unsettled I stopped, looked uninterested in them, then, when they carried on eating I moved forward again.  Almost within perfect distance, they suddenly fled into their burrows – two joggers were passing by.  Ok I thought, I shall try the ‘Coot family’ on the large pond.

Arriving there they were all present and accounted for as were two Herons, so I let them get used to my presence and slowly moved forward as they had moved away at my initial appearance.  I was just about to take some photos of the approaching Herons when along came a dog and its owner, the dog went crashing into the pond chasing off the Herons and the Coots into the reed bed.  I may have, just possibly, on the odd occasions, mentioned my distain for dog walkers.  Not that I have any problems with people owning dogs and taking them out for walks, but why at a nature reserve?  There are plenty of places where they could walk them.  Why a nature reserve if you are not interested in nature?  And why do they have so little thought for others?  And why must they insist in wrapping up there doggy doings in little plastic bags, only to dump them out in the open?  And why would anyone want to have 5 dogs of all different sizes?  That’s just plain weird.  Anyway, this person could see what I was doing at 7.20 am in the morning and yet made no attempt to keep their dog under control but in fact seemed to encourage the dog to chase after the birds there.

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After a few minutes, they left, I stayed, let the wildlife settle again and managed to get a few images of the Coots and a Mallard there before, again, in bound another dog complete with indifferent owner, scattering the birds again.   By this time, I was really fed up and decided to have a walk around but everywhere I went more dogs and their owners so I decided to give up and instead have a walk over to Big Waters reserve and look in at the two hides they have there.


The hides at Big Waters are a strange place.  Usually lots of people there with cameras, scopes and binoculars but all talking to each other and with seemingly little interest in watching nature and enjoying the moment, the Loch Ness monster could go past and I don’t think anyone would notice – of course I could simply becoming a big anti social grouch.  It’s one of those places where you could spend days all day seeing little apart from the usual wildlife but you may just get lucky and see an Otter close up with its cubs.  Alas, this day was not to be the latter and all that was stirring were some noisy Turns on the small man made island.


Further afield from Big Waters is a small bridge crossing over the busy highway leading out of Newcastle heading north.  On a number of occasions I have seen Kestrels hunting along the motorways verge, I’ve often thought it would make a great photo if, whilst on the bridge, I could get an image of a Kestrel hovering over the road with the traffic in the background.  As I approached the bridge, there was a Kestrel doing exactly that but by the time I reached the ideal view point it was gone, and although I waited half and hour or so, it didn’t return.  I wondered around for another few hours, including returning to the bridge, but with little joy.  A very frustrating day.


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