A Siege, a Wedge and a Water Dance

My recuperation is complete and I’m back to work on Monday. Obviously, it’s good to be getting better, but Thursday afternoon’s excellent excursion was tinged with the bittersweet knowledge that it would be the last such weekday walk seasoned with the slightly illicit feeling of a break from the normal routine.

The previous day’s snow was thawing, and a very grey day was starting to brighten, with pale eggshell blue overhead, but cloud, mist and fog in most directions. It was very atmospheric.


I’d decided to make up for not making it to the Bela last Friday by taking a short walk along it from the road bridge by Dallam Deer Park to where it joins the Kent. Leaving the road I was met once again by mixed flocks of thrushes. There’s a small weir jus below the bridge and every time I come this way I walk past it too quickly and startle the birds below it, which usually then take-off and get their own back by startling me in return. Today it was a diving duck – a female Goosander I think but I couldn’t be certain.

The weir. 

Slightly further down river a pair of what I first took to be Swans…

…but which turned out to be…..feral geese?

Ahead of me the river turned sharply, with a short steep bank on the far, outside bank and a shallow area of mud on my side of the river. Even from a distance I could see a Heron standing on the far bank of the curve. On the flat ground behind the Heron there were several small groups of Canada Geese. On the river in front of the Heron some gulls and with the gulls, smaller than them, something which kept diving under the water. It was very small and quite a way away, but the shape suggested a Little Grebe (or Dabchick).

From this point the walking became secondary to the gawking as I tried hard to get photos of the birds.

Here’s the Heron and the Dabchick…

(I’ve cropped this as far as it will stand, but a closer look confirms that it is a Dabchick).

Couldn’t help thinking that the Heron looked very formal, like a doorman at a swanky hotel, and might be asking the Dabchick whether it needed a taxi.

I didn’t get a really good picture of the Dabchick, it was too small, too far away and kept disappearing under the water. But while I watched a female Goldeneye joined the party and a Redshank splashed about in the shallows on the far side of the river.

The Goldeneye and the Dabchick

I was wondering this week, when I was at Leighton Moss, how proper photographers ever get satisfactory pictures of birds in flight. My efforts to date have been pretty comical, distant dots that could be a Buzzard or a gnat, blurred shots of empty sky or the disappearing tail-feathers of some ducks. I was thinking…better equipment – perhaps, more patience – definitely. I have another idea now – point the camera at the birds before they take off…

The same trick worked for the Geese…

I’d departed from the well-used path, but clearly there had still been plenty of traffic this way…

I left the riverside …

Which rejoins a the disused railway which I walked on last week. Where the Bela and the Kent meet…

There was quite a flotilla of ducks and gulls.

A short road walk brought my back to the bridge near where I had parked, and a final encounter, with another female Goldeneye.

Which is not shown to great effect here, but I quite like the ripples.

And the post title? Collective nouns for Herons (of which there seem to be several), Goldeneyes and Grebes respectively.

A Siege, a Wedge and a Water Dance

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