When my feet are off the road
There is a place where I like to go for some exercise. It's a good walk from where I live and sometimes I ride the rails to it. The terrain is mostly flat, with a few ground rises, I won't call them hills because they are too low. Quite a few trails are present and normally only a handful of people are around during my treks.
Because of the lockdown, all kinds of new people have shown up. For quite a few weeks I avoided the place because hundreds of locals who never knew it was there, suddenly descended on the area: ignoring social distancing, throwing litter everywhere and making a general mess of it all. Some of the very narrow trails are now wider, as a result. Once people began going back to work or went off on their dirt cheap holidays (the drunken messy lot), normality returned. One good thing was that some of the new visitors discovered stuff and enjoyed the 45 hectare park.
One set of people, often present, are birdwatchers. For myself, birdwatching is tremendously boring, very time consuming and not I'm not going to get all involved in watching some feathered creatures which fly and/or float. I don't even know the names of most of the flappy lot.
Once in a great while there is something which grabs my attention because it's different than the run of the mill: crows, magpies or ducks etc. This time it was a Kestrel chick. These are hunter predators, like small falcons or hawks, that can hover and strike. There is a box where, during some springs and early summers, a Kestrel occasionally nests. Sometimes a couple of the young Kestrels were on top of the box where their mother had placed some food.
A number of local birdwatchers were present taking photographs or just watching (like they do). At this stage of growth, the chicks fly. Shortly after these photo's were taken, they flew away from the nest and did not return. Unfortunately I did not have my usual camera with me only a smartphone which, to be quite honest, is useless for wildlife photography. I see more of these during long hikes in the countryside and don't much notice of them.
This past spring, the usual water fowl were breeding. The Mallard above must have had quite a good run and reckoned this half fallen tree bough was as good a place as any to take a well earned breather. He did not move, even when I hit the tree and spoke loudly. I've never seen one of the ducks here do this before.
Herons are a common water bird here, Egrets are not. Evidently they are related and come from the European mainland. Some of the regular birdwatchers were quite enthusiastic when the above Egret showed up, even a few Twitchers arrived but not in their usual hundredsthank goodness. I wanted to get a photo of it flying, but the camera was in my pocket and the bird had touched down by the time I got it out.
Another bird which sometimes is seen here is the Cormorant. However, like the Heron and Egret, there are different varieties. Normally the ones seen in the park are black and white, but this one is all black. Some of the all black ones have been here once before. Apparently there are two versions, almost the same but not quite. I've been told that one has a crest and the other doesn't. I don't know if the crest is something which gets raised or notand quite honestly don't care.
One bird which is common here, but I have never seen one in my life, is a Kingfisher. They're small, very fast and I guess hard to photograph as a result. If, and a big if, I can ever get a shot of one I'll add it here.
Aug 16, 2020