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Inspiration Lacking

Inspiration Lacking - European Robin
Inspiration Lacking - European Robin
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/500 ISO 320
I don't know what it was about today but I found myself lacking inspiration and motivation when out on the patch today. 

I don't know if it was the light rain and thick clouds at the start of my walk (when sunshine had been forecast), or if it was the cold wind blowing in from the East (Storm Henry this time I think), perhaps it was burn out from lots of birding through January, or maybe just tiredness?

I guess it could even be the fast approaching life change of leaving my thirties, but today was a struggle.

Especially when it came to photographs, so this post won't exactly be littered.

When Plans Go Right

When Plans Go Right
When Plans Go Right
Some days you make a plan and it goes totally wrong, other days you make plans and they go right, today was one of those days (as was last night but more on that later). Today's plan was to get out in the early morning sunshine (forecast sunshine anyway), and see what was lurking on the patch.

Before I get into the actual day I'll give you a little back ground on why my plans were as such. I recently signed up to be part of the Patchwork Challenge 2016 (look for #PWC2016 on twitter), strangely on the same day I signed up so did a friend who also birds Manor Farm, so we now have a friendly little challenge between us who can see the most species on Manor Farm over the next year.

So it is that there are now some commoner species, that I'd want to see anyway, but that now take on that little extra significance.

Rainham Marshes RSPB Visit

Rainham Marshes RSPB Visit
Rainham Marshes RSPB Visit
Having decided late last year to try and get out to a "proper" nature reserve once a month with the little ones (their words), today was to be our first outing of the year, our destination: Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve - a very family friendly nature reserve on the out skirts of London (or in Essex depending on your view point).

As I'm sure I've made clear before we, Zoe and I, are non drivers. this means that any reserves we plan to visit will need to be accessible by public transport, and Rainham is definitely one of those. 

Situated just a short walk away from Purfleet railway station, on the C2C line out from Fenchurch Street station, it was an ideal start for our family challenge.

Winter Moon

Winter Moon
Winter Moon
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/1000 ISO 200
There is something about a blue sky in winter that surpasses even the azure blue of a mid summer sky, weather it is the low lying sun creating a slight golden hew to the surrounding environment thus making the blue look bluer; or maybe it is just a crisper, richer, sharper, blue at this time of year, either way a blue sky in winter is always an evocative moment for me, and today stepping out on the patch one of those endless blue expanses was my celestial roof.

A waxing, crescent moon hung low in the sky and seemed to be guiding me around the patch, taking me on a journey of discovery and, with its celestial pull, seemed to bring me some great new patch birds for the year.

A Touch of Red

A Touch of Red
A Touch of Red
Canon 70D 400mm @ f/6.3 1/100 ISO 400
Yesterday afternoon I gazed out of my top floor window, out across the sheep fields, the normally lush green grass of the furthest field, the one just over the river, was now a sheet of pure, rippling, bronze. The Great Ouse banks had well and truly burst forth shedding gallons of water out across the pasture. Monday's foolhardy walk would not even have been possible! 

Today when I headed out onto the patch I assumed all would be the same or worse so I was preparing to photograph some floods. Instead as I entered the enclosed paddock the grass was coated in a thin layer of crisp white frost, it made for a very odd sensory experience as I walked through the short grass, each of my steps were at the same time crunching through the icy frost and squelching as I sank into the sodden muddy mess below.

Foolhardy or Dedication

Foolhardy or Dedication - Mute Swan
Foolhardy or Dedication - Mute Swan
Today the river Great Ouse has decided she has had her fill, she can take no more and so has decided that now is the time to let it all flow out. Yes today the river is in flood, we are not talking epic proportions, YET! but a little more rain, which is forecast, and it will be much worse.

You know it is bad when the Swans and Ducks are swimming the fields!

My dad called me foolhardy for wandering these flooded paths today, I call it dedication to a patch! Yes there were times when I wasn't sure where the rivers edge was (one particular deep drop off as it goes) but hey that is what extended tripods are for right? I managed to keep my powder dry the whole walk (even if I had to turn back in the end) but more on all that later.