Saturday, 29 May 2010

Damp, cold and windy…yes, it’s a Bank Holiday Weekend!

What a difference a week makes.  Last weekend the temperatures got into the mid twenties with bright sunshine, this weekend it struggled to get into double figures!  So with the forecast for light rain all day I decided to visit one of the local hides – at least I would be out of the rain and wind.  I use hides but, even in winter, prefer not to, I feel a certain ‘detachment’ from the nature around.  Although you can still see wildlife, your other sensors are limited and then there’s those others who use the hide, many of which seem to lack any kind of ‘etiquette’ and seemingly think that because they are in the hide, that somehow the wildlife outside can no longer see or hear them no matter what they do.

However, in this case there was a regular, another photographer who seems to have a particular keenness in photographing the Kingfishers who have been known to visit this particular location, but looking around at the pond surface, there was barely any area that didn’t have a covering of weed – not ideal for Kingfishers who need to see into the water to see their prey.  Besides, the bad winter I’m sure has taken its toll on the local population and so far this year I haven’t seen a single one unfortunately.

After an hour or so there was very little to see except for a pair of Coots with their single remaining offspring, presumingly the others fell prey to a local predator such as the Heron or a Fox or some natural causes. 


With the arrival of a Heron, things started to get a bit more interesting – at least from a photographic point of view.  I find these large birds very photogenic, especially when they are hunting although they can be sensitive to humans.  This one seemed to find the odd tasty morsel whilst working its way around the edges of the pond before eventually flying off to the far side into the reed beds.


A female Mallard flew in for a brief visit before taking off, where I was just able to train my lens on its take off.  At this point, it settled down to another quite period with only Swallows flying in and around though too fast for me to have a chance of photographing them, and the Coots were still around, hiding within the reeds.


With a brief lull in the light rain I decided to venture out. The weather seemed to be brightening up with even an appearance of the Sun, I packed my camera away and headed out along the Derwent River.  I decided to take my favourite route which, if you’re lucky, you can see a wide range of wildlife, Mammals such as Otters, Foxes and Deer as well as Kingfishers, Dippers, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks and thanks to a recent re-introduction, Red Kites.  The latter have become quite common now and can almost be guaranteed seen gliding over the area at any time of the year.


A brief appearance of the Sun brightens up a field of wild flowers


Silhouette of a Red Kite


It wasn’t long before I saw my first Red Kite, unfortunately, it came overhead when I was walking between an area of trees and had my camera packed away. By the time I managed to get this out and point it towards the bird it was already almost past and I hadn’t had time to change my exposure settings to dial in some compensation for the sky so it ended up an image of a silhouette.  Further along and another Kite though this was much higher and the appearance of a Crow that started to mob it, drove it away.


Red Kite being mobbed by a Crow


I stopped and sat at a few locations where I new Dippers often frequented and just sat there, enjoying the sounds of the river.  It’s unfortunate that this part of the Derwent suffers from a lot of rubbish being dumped – empty cans of various alcoholic beverages, plastic bottles, crisp packets and, lots of little bags of dog crap!  What on earth is the point of clearing up after your dog only to leave numerous little packages that, now, as a result of them being placed in plastic, will still be around at the end of the next Ice Age!!  It’s no wonder I have such a low opinion of dog owners.  These people are imbeciles.

After an hour at my final stop, I decided to head off as the skies were getting darker.  Normally, stopping at this location for any period at this time of year, I would see a Kingfisher, but nothing, which confirmed my fears that there is currently no Kingfishers resident here so far this year.  Hopefully, at the end of the summer, when the young of other Kingfishers in the area leave the nest and find their own territories, they will once again frequent this area.  The river’s just not the same without them.


The River Derwent


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