Well it seems nothing ever goes to plan! We decided to visit a Nature reserve on Sunday which we had never been to before. Things started badly as a result of having waited two weeks for a spare battery for my camera which I had ordered on the internet. I was led to believe it had been posted but thought it strange it was taking so long. I received an email on Sunday to say the order had been cancelled and I was being refunded, and that was it, no other explanation , no apology, nothing! This reminded me that my battery needed charging, which should have been done the night before so I gave it a quick charge before we went out which meant we got away about an hour later than planned. We only had about twenty miles to go but had printed out the route as it was a bit off the beaten track.
After about ten minutes we left the sun behind which was a bad start! Then the turn off to the reserve was sooner than indicated on the printout so we managed to sail straight past it! It's not easy to find a turning point on narrow winding country roads so it took a while to get back to the right turning! We eventually reached a sign which said private road and with nowhere else to go we came to a halt wondering what to do next. We had expected to see signs to the reserve but there was nothing at all! A little way back we had passed a very large and expensive looking house so HLH decided to go and ask directions. A very nice (and expensive looking!) lady told him we should indeed go up the private road and we would eventually come to the reserve but to be very careful as the track was a bit rickety. Well that was an understatement! Potholes didn't nearly describe it, they were more like excavations! After slowly lumbering our way along the track we eventually reached our destination.
By now our estimated travelling time of thirty-five to forty minutes had turned into an hour! However, undeterred we parked the car (ours was the only one there, not surprisingly as I suspect everyone else had given up trying to find it and gone home!) and went to investigate.
The picture above, although rather boring, is to show what a spectacular display of Bluebells there will be in a few weeks time, all the green you can see is Bluebell leaves, they covered pretty well the entire wood.
We also came across the Wood Anemone (Anemone nemerosa), I believe it is sometimes also known as Smell Fox which refers to the musky smell of its leaves but I have always known it as the Windflower.
While human-folk slumber,
The fairies espy
Stars without number
Sprinkling the sky.
The Winter's long sleeping,
Like night-time, is done;
But day-stars are leaping
To welcome the sun.
Star-like they sprinkle
The wildwood with light;
Countless they twinkle
The Windflowers white!
(Cicely Mary Barker, 'The Song of the Windflower Fairy')
Of course one of the main reasons I was eager to go to the reserve was in the hope of seeing some birds and perhaps getting some photos. Well, like the sun the birds were not showing themselves at all! It was a very peaceful place which made a lovely afternoon's walk and will have a wonderful display of Bluebells soon but was rather a disappointment bird-wise.
I thought it rather ironic that just as we were leaving we could hear the furious drumming of a hidden Woodpecker and that the sun shone from the moment we got back in the car until we got home!!
As things didn't quite go to plan on Sunday we decided that after HLH finished work on Monday we would take a quick walk around the local reservoir. There weren't many birds to be seen there either, I was hoping to see the Heron which is often perched on a buoy but it was nowhere to be seen but there were a few gulls about.
I also saw this bird silhouetted against the sky which I believe to be a Sparrowhawk.
Now! I am not, and have never professed, to be a birder or a photographer I am just someone with a deep and ingrained love of Nature and all things natural and beautiful so when I photographed a 'little brown job', which was too far away to identify, I had no idea what I would find when I got home and looked at the photos. As I took it I said to HLH 'what do you think that was?' 'Probably a Sparrow ' he said. 'Or a Reed Bunting' I said optimistically, not really believing it for a moment! Imagine my excitement when I got home and looked at the photos properly and found it was indeed a Reed Bunting, I'm aware that it may be quite a common bird to some but I have never seen one before and have found that it is on the RSPB red list. Incidentally maybe someone can shed some light on this, I have the RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe (2007 edition) which says the Reed Bunting's status is secure but the current information on their website says it is on the red list. This seems to me to be a rapid change in circumstance.
The two photos below are of the Male Reed Bunting, this one perched on the wire fence surrounding the reservoir.
This one in a tree by the river opposite the reservoir.
And this is the female hiding behind a branch!
On the other side of the river which runs alongside the reservoir there is a meadow; and as we were leaving we had the distinct feeling of being watched!!
It was Ol' Blue Eyes! (Click on the photo to see what I mean.)