After my enjoyable trip to the bird hides of Manea, I decided to try and persuade my wife, Carole, to come with me, because she seems to spot things that I might miss. She agreed to come along and so we packed sandwiches and salads, plus a flask of hot water. Carole had her coffee and I, the Latte granules in sachets. We arrived after driving through the countryside. We saw lots of Kestrels on the way and I stopped to try and get one. They are rather difficult because the little things tend to fly off the moment they realise you are observing them. I got one in a photo shot just as it turned and spotted me.
…and then it was gone. Still it came out fine.
Carole and I arrived along the canal bank right out in the middle of nowhere. There was a car park, which I made use of and then off we set upon the planked walkway towards one of the many scattered bird hides that were stationed upon the dike at about 900 meter intervals. We had a bird hide to ourselves and a clear view over the marshy Fen.
There were a variety of different birds. Lots of Swifts, Swallows, Terns, Coots. We had small telescope, and a small pair of binoculars. Also my camera. I was hoping to see birds of prey. I had already got a small Kestrel on the way here, as I said earlier, therefore, I was happy with that knowing other things might unfold.
A Heron came gliding down and I caught that on camera plus a Tern as it came along the river. For some time Carole and I sat looking out of the window shutter of the hide. We chatted about all sorts of things while scanning the Fen with telescope and binoculars. Both of us agreed we needed better binoculars and spoke of infa-red ones in case we came in darkness looking for owls. We are novices and are learning along the way.
Carole spotted a buzzard far off across the Fen and we each looked onto the hawk with telescope and binoculars. It was too far to photograph, but we were able to watch it gliding and circling for some time before it swooped down behind a distant dike.
Later two Kestrels came over the hide and we watched them for some time. They seemed to be sweeping along the dike where our hide was. They would move off some distance away and then gradually return. The pair were a little distance apart and were hovering then swooping down into the long grass. Each time the little falcons lifted back up, we expected to see some vole or other gripped within the talons but no. The continued to try and I could not produce any photos worthy of the blog, because they were always a little too far. I need a camera lens with stronger magnification.
It was on the way back to the car as we walked along the wooded gantry bridge over the marsh that Carole started spotting things. I was photographing a rickety old cottage that looked in need of some TLC.
“LOOK!” said Carole.
As I did so, I saw the end of a snake slither into the long grass and amid the foliage of the river bank. I could not get the camera into play quick enough. Then a few more steps and Carole spotted a coiled adder, basking in the sun and as I lifted the camera again, the viper was gone into the long grass and bushes. It was so frustrating because the things moved so quickly. Then I almost trod on a smaller grass snake. Fortunately, this little viper is none venomous and this particular fellow seemed to be a poser. It slithered about out of the grass and onto the gravel path, allowing me to catch a few shots before it too, slithered off into the long grass towards the canal.