Following the recent wide-spread debate and discussion on several outdoor blogs, I thought it best to state…Nah! Only kidding!
The day after my afternoon stroll with A (so only a week and a half ago – I’m catching up!), I set-off, reasonably early, to have another go at spotting the ospreys, bearded tits and otters at Leighton Moss. This time none of the kids opted to join me. Maybe they were wise: it was bright enough, but the ground was super-saturated and my progress was accompanied by a rhythmic squelch, squelch, splot, splosh, squelch, squelch, squelch…
When I reached the Moss, and the point on the causeway where a grit tray is positioned to attract bearded tits, I paused dutifully. But no tits. After that I stopped at each of the places where a gap in the tall reeds gave a view onto open water or broken reeds. And there…a small lithe bouncing thing, surprisingly pale, almost beige, with a distinctive dark tip to its tail: a stoat.
I stopped for a while in the public hide. A great crested grebe was diving right in front of the hide, I trained my camera on it as it disappeared under the water, and waited…and waited…It apparently didn’t resurface, at least not where I could see it.
Back on the track, another mustelid, I think a stoat again, bounced along the track ahead of me. I was able to watch this one for quite a while as it stayed on the path. I even got a photo, but it was so far ahead that the photo is pretty useless.
Where the track comes downhill from Grisedale Farm and enters the reserve, it had become a stream. I noticed lots of tiny black shapes swirling in the flow. What were they…seeds, or….
…creatures! I’m guessing that they are some sort of insect larvae, but I don’t know. The camera, always more observant than me, noticed a red worm in the water snaking towards the larvae (or molluscs or whatever).
On my way round to Lower Hide I enjoyed watching many small birds bobbing about amongst the trees and shrubs. I was intrigued by several birds with black wings and lower back, a white wing bar and a striking white rump. I took lots of photos of one particular bird which had settled down for a meal…
It was only after I had taken all the photos and had moved on that it occurred to me this could be a juvenile bullfinch – I’d been fooled by the drabness and the lack of bold cap, but young birds don’t have the cap.
From lower hide I didn’t see any ospreys, or any otters. The grebes were there, but too far away for a decent photo. Also some swans, a few goldeneye, a lone cormorant. A heron sailed over and landed on the edge of the reeds very close to the hide.
Regular readers will know that I feel a great affection toward herons. I took numerous photos. I hoped to see the heron catch a fish, or better yet an eel – if you’ve ever seen a heron with an eel you’ll know that it’s a titanic struggle that they fight. I didn’t.
But I did get this photo of the heron trying to catch something (you’ll have to imagine the lightening fast strike at the water).
And just as I was thinking of leaving, the heron began to stalk towards the hide…
Any masochist who has stuck with me through the nearly five hundred posts of wittering and wandering and misidentification and muddle will have seen countless attempts to photograph herons, none of them a patch on this, and would perhaps appreciate why even an otter or an osprey would have been hard-pressed to provide the satisfaction that this did.
When I finally left the hide, I continued round on the path which would take me to Storrs Lane. It was underwater. Bizarrely, my boots, which are normally about as waterproof as your average teabag, kept my feet dry. Explain that.
On a small wooden bridge I encountered this large beetle…
…with striped brown wing-casings and a black head, which was very fast moving and hard to photograph. With it being both large and quite distinctive, I thought I might be able to identify it using my insect field guide, but I can’t.
At the end of the path I passed under a huge, gnarly horse chestnut tree and onto Storrs Lane. Where, in the hedgerow I found…
…and damsons. The latter were juicy and very tasty.
Speckled wood butterfly.
I walked back via the golf course and Park Lane. I passed numerous clumps of ivy. Some were relatively quiet and others were thronging. Wonder why that is.
Honey bee. (Or is it – where’s the nectar basket?)
Another shiny blue fly.
Slender, pale hoverfly.
Could be sceava pyrastri?
As to the other thing (reviews and all that) – I have a pair of boots, supposedly sporting cutting-edge waterproofing technology, which aren’t remotely waterproof and which after a year’s not particularly heavy use are falling apart, a coat which was waterproof but which now leak’s like the proverbial sieve and a rucksack (very expensive) in which the flimsy zips are all now useless. Why would anyone take gear advice from me? For my hard won experience as an imbecile?
“I don’t have any advice,” I said. “I travel. I look. I record what I see. Then I describe it. I am not a preacher.”
Yes. I liked that. I had nothing to say. I knew nothing.
Lost Cosmonaut Daniel Kalder