First Name Terms*

A hawker

A little while back now: a drizzly weekend was rescued by the visit of many old friends (of which more later perhaps) and by a bright and sunny Friday evening. From my home-bound train I spotted a red deer stag in the reed beds of Barrowscout Fields and so it seemed the obvious choice, once off the train, to head away from home and towards the reed beds of Leighton Moss. Crossing the causeway at Leighton Moss between tall reeds, meres and occasional stands of alder, what struck me was just how quiet it was – no cacophony of gulls, no scratchy of warbler’s songs. But there were a few dragonflies about.

A hawker again

I watched the jinking flights of two dragonflies for a while. They disappeared together amongst the alders at the side of the path and when only the larger of the two re-emerged I looked for the other amongst the alder saplings. Without that clue I don’t think I would have spotted this elegant chap resting on this stem, despite the striking blue blobs. I’m pretty sure that this is not a migrant hawker, like the one I photographed at Gait Barrows back at the end of August. I think that it might be a common hawker, but frustratingly, because of the angle it was perched at, and because it was above head height, I couldn’t see the distinctive markings on the abdomen which might confirm that identification.

Leighton Moss view

My favourite Leighton Moss view.

A friend who lives nearby, but not all that nearby, was telling me recently that she had seen the egret roost at Leighton Moss, and that she was suitably impressed. I was a bit put out – egret roost? Really – how come I haven’t seen, or heard about, this? From the public hide I thought perhaps I could see some egrets in distant trees. I walked around to the Lower Hide, thinking I would have a better view from there, but although I was sure that I could see the relevant clump of trees, now I couldn’t see any egrets at all. A marsh harrier flew low over the far side of the mere, close to the trees where I thought there might be egrets and in the wake of the harrier’s passing a host of pure white birds flew up from the trees and briefly circled, seeming to savour the heavy wind, playing as rooks and jackdaws will in gusty conditions.

I continued from lower hide, on the path which curls around to Storrs Lane and which has recently become a favourite. I noticed several places where the rich black mud close to the perimeter fence had been heavily churned. Whilst examining the prints in the mud, I looked up and looking back at me, not 10 yards away, were three red deer hinds.

Red deer hinds

Of course, they were away pretty swiftly, but they stayed in view and I eventually found a vantage point where I could see them through the trees.

Three red deer hinds

It soon became apparent that these three were part of a larger group and I watched perhaps 20 deer as one after another they elegantly hopped over a fence and disappeared across a field. The last across was a fine stag.

Red deer stag

Whilst I took the photos I was noticing that the scene behind the deer was also impressive – late sun illuminating autumn colours with dark sky behind and a sliver of rainbow. Rainbow? Hang on…


It was soon raining, and continued to do so as I passed the gnarly old horse chestnut onto Storrs Lane.

Storrs Road Rainbow

But there was the compensation of a full rainbow however (couldn’t squeeze all of it into a single frame sadly).

And as I walked along the lane I did finally have a good view of the egret roost…

Egret roost

Could there be a better way to relax at the end of a working week? What a privilege it is to have this on our doorstep.

*The title is filched from the post – On the Benefits of Exploring your own Backyard – a book review, but a lot more besides.

First Name Terms*

20 thoughts on “First Name Terms*

  1. Chekmx says:

    How did you Get such good shots of the dragonflies? They never sit still long enough when I try. The details on the wing of the first one is awesome.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Hi Steve,
      Pig-headed persistence! This kind of dragonfly doesn’t keep still often, but they do rest, and when they are resting, if you can spot them (surprisingly difficult) with a telephoto you can get them. I’ve seen photos of them in flight – that must take levels patience beyond my temprament. And a camera beyond my purse I suspect.

  2. beautiful images there, a fine way indeed to end a working week or any day really. The light looks really nice and the composition of the image with the tree and the gate is superb.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Thanks David.
      Even a couple of hours like this can go a long way to lift the spirits I think. The light was fantastic – one of the compensations I suppose of the sun being lower in the sky?
      I’ve rather taken to this particular horse chestnut: I’ve walked past it twice now and taken lots of photos both times. It’s only possible to see from quite close to, but it’s pretty big. It’s very handsome and was catching the light down it’s left hand edge in a way which I don’t think I quite captured – I know that I will be taking lots more shots of this tree, until perhaps I get one I’m really happy with.

      1. yep, one of the best things about this time of the year is that the sun is pretty low in the sky most of the day so the light isn’t so harsh making for more attractive images when the light is right.

  3. I take it this was the Friday when we drove to yours – what happened to the weather the rest of weekend!

    These after walk works really are top notch. I guess after this weekend when the clocks go back it’s over for you for a few months. Hate this time of year 😦

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes – I’d seen the forecast and knew what to expect – so a post-work walk was imperative. Hopefully next time you come we can organise some better weather.
      And yes – once the clocks go back the fun tends to end. My blog usually goes pretty quiet during November whilst I sulk for awhile. Those of us who suffer from SAD (self-diagnosed) should surely spend November somewhere sunny on the NHS? (Or should we say now: NHS RIP?) (Little bit of politics there…)

      1. I’ve got it bad, all I have is football related therapy.

        Oh, and one more thing – why haven’t you added me to your blogroll – was it the less than flattering photos of you trying to body-board that I posted

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          At least the football related therapy is very soothing at present. I saved THAT match (and I’m not talking the baggies winning their recent derbies) so that I can watch it again and again.

          Whoops – an over sight which I shall rectify. (Don’t hold your breath for loads of traffic.) I also need to retrospectively add some links to posts about days when we were together.

          And: I wasn’t just a photo. Wide-screen video too! (It probably was flattering – that’s the truly galling part.

  4. beatingthebounds says:

    Thanks Emily,
    It seems like only a few years ago that I was astonished when I first saw an egret in the area, by the Kent estuary. I didn’t have my glasses on and although they are fairly unmistakable, I wondered if I was imaging things. Now they’re a fairly common sight, but I suspect that the novelty will never wear off for me.

  5. Phil Gates says:

    I saw my first egret on the saltmarsh at Grange-over-Sands when we were on holiday there just a few years ago – it’s amazing how fast they’ve colonised the coastline isn’t it? Never thought when I saw the first one that there’d soon be roosts like the one in that photo!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      At first I thought of the egrets as a sort of welcome curiosity, but they are clearly here to stay. We have a few great egrets too – it will be interesting to see whether they are equally successful colonists. We have had a pair of spoonbills, but they don’t seem to have settled in and invited the relatives in quite the same way.

  6. Wonderful photos from this evening stroll. The low late afternoon sun as this time of year really highlights the autumnal colours. Super dragonfly pictures, I find them very hard to follow when viewing through my camera and if following by eye, they’ve moved on by the time I frame them in the camera!

    BTW Your link “On the Benefits of Exploring your own Backyard – a book review, but a lot more beside” doesn’t work.

        1. Thanks, Mark. I have C of C on my Googlereader thingie and read Phil’s posts. But when I was away in October I came back to hundreds of posts by all of yous 😉 and, as yet, had not caught up with the ‘backlog’, so missed this book review.

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