Saturday, 7 July 2012

King for the Day

Yesterday’s heavy rain lasted nearly all day, so I wasn’t able to get out. However, the forecast was for a bright start to Saturday, albeit with a little mist to begin with. I decided to chance my arm and try for a few shots of the otters at Tophill. I wasn’t worried about the 4am start, but the “little mist” seemed to have turned into something much thicker.
Gradually though the mist began to lift, and after 45 minutes of quiet waiting a dog otter turned up. I think he must have heard the shutter of my camera going for he turned to face me for what seemed like 30 seconds before moving off into the mist and out of view. Judging by the photos – the quality of which reflects the light conditions – the otter could see me well enough and seemed to be staring me down.

Watching you watching me.... at 4.50am
Gradually North Marsh came back to life after the otter's visit. It wasn’t long before the Reed Warblers began scouring the reeds for food, with some adults being pursued by fledglings. There was also a prolonged visit from a Water Vole, busily devouring vegetation as the light came up.

Water Vole at breakfast

Fledgling Reed Warbler waiting for breakfast

More watching you watching me
Not long after came the first visit from a Kingfisher – a juvenile male bird by the looks of things. This too stayed for quite a while, diving and catching three minnows. I love these birds! So majestic and colourful. However, the light was still not great for really good photos, and after quarter of an hour or so it flew off, presumably to digest what it had caught and eaten.

Another period of calm followed, and eventually, and in much better light conditions, the Kingfisher returned. This time it stayed for fully thirty minutes or so, catching more fish and posing beautifully as if it were a professional model. I just wish I was a better at capturing the bird’s dives into the water. Nonetheless, it was fantastic to witness this show.

Going, going......


Now, where's the next one?
I finished early as I had chores for the day. On the way out, however, I came across the biggest slug I have ever seen. Measuring over 6 inches in length, it was like a throw-back to some primeval world (not that I would describe Tophill in that way!). My subsequent researches have identified the beast as a Great Grey or Leopard Slug. I’m not sure I would want to meet one of these in the dark.

Leopard Slug - coming to get you

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