A few recent days out have again shown how foolish it is to ever say “I won’t bother with my camera”. It’s brilliant to be in the moment, but you can miss great opportunities that may not reappear. I’ve had two of these this month.
Over the weekend I was in Derbyshire, newt-spotting in the ponds at Chaddesden Woods (and they were plentiful, happily). While there, we also hopped the border into Nottinghamshire and took in a new (to me)reserve, NWT Attenborough.
The reserve exists because of active gravel pits that have been in operation since the 1920s. As the extraction finishes, the pits become pond and wetland, and wildlife moves in.
Annoyingly for my inner wildlife photographer, many birds were on very showy and obliging form. Egyptian Geese with goslings, a range of reedbed specialists including Reed, Sedge, Grasshopper and Cetti’s Warbler, plus Reed Bunting. Blackcaps and Whitethroats. Plus the tamest Gadwall I’ve ever seen.
But the undoubted highlight was the Sand Martin hide. This allows close-up views of these beautiful little hirundines as they attend to their nests in an artificial bank just feet from the window.
But when we were there, two babies had decided to have a serious look at the outside world, and were leaning out of the hole no more than three or four feet away from me.
It’s a lovely reserve, and I highly recommend a visit.
Missed opportunity two came in the Himalayan Gardens north of Ripon. These formal gardens are open only sporadically through the season, and the aim is to see the various plants there, especially Rhodedendron and Azalea.
But for me the real treat was seeing a beautiful pair of Grey wagtail using an ornate sea serpent sculpture in the middle of a lake as a base from which to feed their chick. And they all sat there there perfectly for an hour or more. I captured a few over-zoomed pictures with a compact, but missed out on what would have been 2018 calendar shots!
It’s a beautiful place though, and if you are in the area when it’s open, I recommend it.
The more observant readers will have realised I’ve barely posted over the last two months. I wish there was an elaborate and worthy reason for this, but there isn’t. I’ve just not got round to it as I’d like. So in the build up to 30 Days Wild will be making a couple more posts this week just updating you on a couple of my regular spots and the wildlife there. Then in June, things will start being more frequently updated.