Monday, 28 January 2013

Mammals are like Buses

Another visit to Amwell with the first bout of snow still lingering with well below freezing temperatures. It was cold at the viewpoint with a northerly breeze in your face so time for a wander up the lane. As I have mentioned before, birds always seem to be tamer in the cold, more intent of feeding than worrying about your presence as exemplified by this male Chaffinch next to the path.

Before long I was approaching Tumbling Bay and time to check on the progress of the 1st winter male Scaup which has been present since the 21st October 2012. It was in its usual position near the east bank towards the southern end, associating with the usual group of Tufted Duck and on this occasion, a sole Pochard. The photos show what a difference there is in its plumage since it first arrived and also provides a useful size comparison with the tufties.

On the way back I checked to see what was going on at the James Hide, starting with the lower storey. The feeders had been taken down during December due to the unwanted attention from a family of rats, but have now been re-instated and were attracting the usual array of tits and buntings.This is my favourite place for photographing Reed Buntings as they will often settle on reeds or branches before moving on to the feeders, thereby allowing some shots without ironmongery.

I then moved upstairs where I met fellow photographer Andrew Chu. I was hoping that a Bittern would walk across the pond or the ride cut through the reeds and after a few minutes not one but two brown objects appeared at the far end of the ride. These were clearly too large for Bitterns and I assumed therefore that they were Muntjac, but a closer inspection through the bins revealed that they were in fact two Foxes.

Clearly, mammals are like buses. It was only the other day that I was bemoaning the fact that I never got the chance to photograph mammals and now, if you include the Stoat, which was photographed on the same day, three come along at once. They started walking down the ride, but it was clear from their reaction that they could hear the shutters and diverted into the reeds, but not until we had taken a number of shots.

Back at the viewpoint one of the Bitterns decided to emerge from the reeds on the far side. I was just getting my camera into position when it decided to fly towards us but unfortunately diverted to the reed bed to the left, rather than the one in front. However, I did mange to get a record shot of the bird in flight.

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