Monday, 19 April 2010

One step closer

Sunday 18 April
Not a step closer to Taiwan which is where I should have been this weekend (thank you Iceland) but one step closer to that picture of a Barn Owl I promised myself at the beginning of the year. I was lucky enough to be invited out with local wildlife photographer, Stephen Durrant. He was kind enough to take me to one of his stake outs, first thing. We settled in and waited for the Owls to appear. Now this for me is one of the best bits of birding, the anticipation and predicted sudden adrenalin rush when something happens. Steve's been watching these birds for years and as a consequence of his fieldcraft accurately predicted their arrival, adrenalin kicked in and the first few shots fired, all blurred due to the excitement, so we waited for a second pass, and here it came

two birds quartering the field for food and with any luck there may get closer, they did a bit, I was still very excited so a bit of a blurred image...
but as I settled down, they continued to hunt.
Steve had us tucked in so they didn't see us, and we didn't disturb them, but they did hear the shutter of the camera, such awesome hearing.
They spent a good half hour hunting and then left, as did we, and headed on to West Acre to see what was around there. I was really excited after this close encounter with the Owls, no hide work, no captive birds, not at the nest, just pure fieldcraft and countless hours of observation from Steve. Top morning.

At West Acre a Little Owl in the distance and some Shelducks, LapwingOystercatchers, Teal, Reed Bunting all accompanied by Willow Warbler song, on what was turning from a misty start to a beautiful day.

note the irregular shaped iris (apologies to harp on about this, see previous posts on this blog for more on that particular issue, and an Oystercatchers eye you can see).
the day was getting better and better, then a ripple in the water gave away a hunting Grass Snake as it made it's way across the pond to lie up on a small bank, in wait no doubt !

This stealth like approach was broken by the high pitched whistle of a Kingfisher as it flew past which had me all fingers and thumbs again with excitement.
Steve and I then parted company, I had chores to attend to (getting a refund from Eva Air), but it had been such a great morning I switched off the mobile and had a half hour walk along the Nar, in Narborough. Orange Tip, Peacock and Tortoiseshell, butterflies were everywhere and as I walked alongside the river I heard a rustle by the bank and then a small mammal emerged, to quickly plop into the was a Water Vole ! my first for absolutely ages. A bit further and the plop noise was replaced by a rustling, faintly, but sounded like something was slithering around by the bank. I crept closer to see........ more Grass Snakes. Not sure how many there were tangled up in this lot !
And so ended a great morning, except just for one thing, a pair of Buzzards being mobbed by another Buzzard, or was it, stringing a Honey would have been too much.......wouldn't it ?
....and this was my memory of a truly great morning's birding and company.

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