Monday, 24 October 2011

Autumnal Sunshine

Saturday morning had a few things in store for me. One thing unexpected was the slight hangover I felt from possibly one small Brandy too many, and another totally expected, 4 hours at work. Every third Saturday I have to work, I do not like this. As previously mentioned I love my job, but not so much that I want it to get in the way of the rest of my life. However, I begrudgingly downed the paracetamol and headed into, what turned out to be a very busy morning at work. Fast forward 4 hours...

Pulling up at home just in time to see a Green Woodpecker flying over my house. I've seen them before in Barking and at Hainault, but quite surprised to see one in War Torn Dagenham. With my hangover now passed and a tummy full of bacon sarnie I was happy again, and cheerfully loaded up the Family into the Volvo and away we sped to Sunny Hertfordshire, to spend the evening with the In-Laws.

After relaxing my Wife with a couple of glasses of Vino on the Friday night I broke the news that I would be doing my usual "dropping them off and then going for a walk somewhere" once we arrived so she wasn't surprised to see me loading my Camera and Binoculars into the car. After a brief chat to the In-Laws she waved me off with a tear stained hankie (yeah right) and away I went for a rare trip to RSPB Rye Meads. I used to go there a fair bit, but since discovering the habitats on the doorstep of my Wifes family in Ware and Amwell End I usually stay closer to home, but tales of a recent Osprey at Rye Meads, and the hope of seeing a Bittern (which I didn't) were enough to make me take the short drive.

The sun was beautiful, but as is usually the case with Autumn sunshine it was too bloody low. Wherever I walked it seemed the sun was glaring right into my eyes. Photography was therefore difficult as trying to find anywhere to shoot from where the sun was at your back was rare. Rye Meads, if any of you have been will know, is a Hide based Nature Reserve. There are trails, but the main focus is the hides, named after what you can expect to see from those hides. The Kingfisher hide being most popular as you have a very good chance of seeing a Kingfisher or 2, provided you have the patience to wait. I'm not a great one for hides personally. I get more enjoyment from actually moving around a bit and seeing and hearing what's around you, but when in Rome and all that so I found myself in one of the hides for maybe 30 minutes watching what turned out to be 4 Snipe. They were like London Buses. A guy to my left said "There's a Snipe there", I looked where he was pointing and said "There are 2, one behind the other", before we realised that what he was pointing at, and I was looking at were totally different, so there were 3, and another on a distant island made 4. They were all quite open, enjoying the sunshine until something spooked them and they all hid (quite badly really, I could beat them all at Hide n Seek) behind stones they were near. This was my cue to walk on.

Marching Snipe

I enjoyed the walk along the Otter trail, although it didn't yield many more birds, a quiet day in all. Apart from the Snipe and a Juvenile Great Crested Grebe eating a MASSIVE fish there wasn't a lot about. And it wasn't until I was getting in the car that I saw my first raptor of the day, A Kestrel which was a fair distance away (No Osprey for me). Looking forward to a bit more Autumnal weather, and my first Fieldfare, Redwing and hopefully Waxwings of the year.

Bird list: - Black Headed Gull, Coot, Moorhen, Shoveller, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Snipe, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Green Woodpecker (another one), Kestrel, Herring Gull, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe

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