Wednesday 2 April 2014

Week 11: Misty Morning & Willow Patterns

Yesterday’s forecast: bright with sunny spells all day. Perfect, I thought. I’ll get out around Boxmoor and visit the Oak. I am still frustratingly below par so venturing out requires a degree of psyching myself up and a little forward planning. Of course, the day dawned, complete with a thick blanket of fog. A more sensible individual would have postponed her jaunt into the gloom until the sun had burned its way through the moisture. Not me. Like an oil tanker, my course was set and there was no turning back. So, off I went into the mist...

The backdrop to the Dellfield oak (below) was the murky trees of Barnfield. The leaf buds are due to open this month so I shall keep a close eye on them.

Walking along Two Waters Road, it’s easy to spot a variety of willows on the adjacent moor, with one particular tree rising up from the river and overhanging the footpath. Its fresh leaves were still carrying the raindrops from the night before.

Through Two Waters Moor (west) and all the daisies were still fast asleep, their heads closed up to the dark, dank morning. I hadn’t realised this, but the name daisy is thought to be derived from a corruption of “Day’s Eye”. The flower retracts all its petals at night and opens them up again in the morning.


Over the weekend, I had noticed a rather lovely pattern in the dead stump of one of the willows, growing by the river, on Bulbourne Meadow.  I returned to this spot and, not long into my photo session, the Kingfisher came to join me. He announced his arrival and perched on one of the low hanging willow branches, just centimetres off the ground, right on the river bank. Less than 8 metres from me, at ankle height, he looked around and then flew a short distance up river, where he hovered like a humming bird before diving to catch a fish. The whole encounter was over within a couple of minutes but was utterly delightful. I shall now always associate the willow pattern with the Kingfisher’s company.

In the past few days, the Chiffchaffs have been joined by singing Blackcaps. I heard at least 2 birds on the moor yesterday. The Grey Wagtails were around too, over on Station Moor, and the floods on Snoxall’s Moor don’t look to be subsiding yet. I had hoped to find a migrant wader, waiting for the fog to clear before carrying on its journey, but no luck. There weren't even any gulls to look through!

Finally, as I was walking back through Station Moor, the Little Egret was fishing in the company of 5 rowdy Woodpigeons, all bathing in the shallows. Unfortunately, by this point, I'd run out of steam but decided that if the light improved, and I had the energy, I'd return in the afternoon to get some video footage of the Little Egret. Needless to say, the sun came out and raw enthusiasm fuelled the video below (it’s a shame it couldn’t also provide a steady platform to stand the tripod on. You’ll have to forgive the occasional wobble in the footage - keeping everything level and steady on rough, boggy grass is harder than I thought!). Interestingly, it isn't the same Little Egret that I photographed last month. That bird had two wonderful, long breeding plumes emanating from its nape. Yesterday's bird only possessed a short plume at the back of its head.

It turned out to be the day of the willow. By the afternoon, the Little Egret had moved to Bulbroune Meadow and was below the tree of my reflection obsession. The Kingfisher couldn't help but put in a cameo appearance or two...

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