The weather forecast wasn't brilliant for yesterday, but so often the timing and amount of the rain is incorrect, so we risked it. Unfortunately, the rain lasted much longer than was predicted, and we looked like drowned rats by the time we had finished.All pictures (c) 2014 Chris CoxOtter
We started in relatively steady rain and steamed along D Reservoir, before arriving in D Woods. We watched the feeders for a while, and saw a Marsh Tit, plus the usual suspects: Great, Blue & Long-tailed Tits, plenty of Chaffinches and Goldfinches, but no sign of last week's sole Greenfinch. We carried on to North Marsh hide where we dropped on the floor for half an hour. The only things seen were a Heron flying along the river, a Moorhen, a Blackbird and a pair of Robins.
As the rain became even more persistent we retraced our steps and watched the ducks on D reservoir. Because of the strong winds the ducks were quite close. The most engaging were several groups of Goldeneye displaying from different parts of the reservoir, but some were fairly close, and these Chris Cox managed to photograph. Also present were Wigeon, Pochard, and a good number of Great Crested Grebes.
The rain continued, but everyone was given the option to head to Angus MacBean hide to see if any of the Egrets were present. We made our way through D Woods and reached North Scrub. I was amazed that a Barn Owl was sat in the open in the pouring rain. It allowed 12 people to stare at it for a few minutes before it took to the wing and then disappeared into one of the boxes. We made it to Hempholme Meadows without seeing any more wildlife.
However, as we approached the hide plenty of wildfowl flew up from the flooded area. As we settled into position in the hide they began to settle down. They included two Black-headed Gulls, some Gadwall, some Teal, and the ubiquitous Friday unmentionables. A cock pheasant was standing on the edge of the water like an aberrant heron species. There was no more activity, so we made our way back in the driving rain and sleet.
As we passed the path to North Marsh Chris Cox peeled off, and had another try for the Otter. The remainder of the drowned rats went straight back to the car park without any further wildlife encounters.
I conclude with Chris Cox's own account of his North Marsh vigil.
I had been there about 45 minutes and was feeling cold especially with being so wet. I had packed my camera away and was just closing the window when I saw a ripple at the far end moving towards me. I knew instantly what it was and unpacked my camera again. However, it stopped and for a few minutes I couldn't see anything. Then I saw circles in the water near the hide, not very strong - as though a fish had broken the surface. Then the Otter did break the surface and for the next few minutes it just kept going under and coming up in different places but all close to the hide. I'm sure it knew I was there.
OtterThen it went away up the right hand channel and disappeared out of sight. I waited for a few minutes and had packed up again when it reappeared. Eventually, it disappeared though I am sure it was still there, but I was so cold by this time that I left. The whole drama lasted about 25 minutes.