|A Game of Two Halves|
Walking through the thick fog this morning I was filled with the eerie feeling I was part of a George A Romero film, with each step I headed deeper into an ominous future world, hidden from civilisation, the blanket of impenetrable mist shrouding the sounds of the living from me.
With the horror movie scene enveloping me, my mind wandered a little; Each ancient tree stump loomed large towards me from the mists like the re-animated corpse of the walking dead; The coughing and cawing of the local crows voices, amplified by the surrounding mists became the guttural moans of the no longer living as they walked the earth in search of some insatiable desire; Each flash of a wing a warning of the evil that lurked in this post apocalyptic wasteland.
A Game of Two Halves
In reality I actually enjoy a walk in the fog, like snow, it has a way of muffling the sounds of normality from around me, the constant hum of distant traffic is smothered in its moisture rich façade, the buildings are hidden behind the wall of white, I get to enjoy my patch without so much of life's normal disturbances.
Today I had planned to photograph the flooding, the recent, very, heavy rain had caused; From my bus stop on Thursday I could see the sheep fields were half covered in deep brown water, but with the fog rolling in over night my plans were not likely to bare fruit now. I could barely see 10 metres in front of me, there was little hope of great floodscapes (a word I have just invented).
|Gateway to the Floods|
Crossing the fog laden fields I could see huge puddles of water, stretching out all around me, these temporary ponds now supporting the local Black-headed Gulls and a few Mallards, whose loud quacks of anger as they took to flight as I passed could be heard echoing through the mists.
It pretty quickly became clear that my route to the river was blocked by a large expanse of flood water and so, rather than risk soggy wellies, I headed back up to civilisation and instead decided to check out the Manor Farm pits from the Southern slope.
|One of the Looming Trees in the Mist|
Misty Manor Farm
My approach to the farm pits were equally fog filled, and as I made my way down the southern slope I could see very little, however in times like these the sounds that fill the air seem to take on more relevance, I stood and listened as hidden duck called from all around the lakes, piping Teal and whistling Wigeons calls mixed in with the incessant quack of the Mallard and honk of the Canada Geese.
I could just make out a Coot or two swimming just beyond the soon to open main hide and while I stood and listened to the myriad of other calls the distinct trilling flight call of a pair of Oystercatcher as they circled the pits still hidden in the fog.
Realising the fog was not likely to lift any time soon I headed off towards the aqueduct.
|Iron Trunk Aqueduct, shrouded in mist|
As I waded along the flooded new path, as it crossed the rough field between the southern climbs and the river I became lost in a world of what used to be (or how I imagine it used to be), the field was heavy with water, creating what seemed to be an ancient marsh. All around me birds were flying through the fog; Pied Wagtails chirped as the bounced past; Lapwings issued their metallic, computer generated sound as they wheeled, ghost like in the rising mists; Common Snipe grunted as they took to flight from the rough pools as my splashing feet neared; A lone Meadow Pipit flew around calling while gulls and corvids called all around.
It really felt how life once was, before humanity swamped the land with their presence.
The Aftermath of the Floods
The further I walked along the river the more I began to realise just how high, and powerful the floods had been. Where now the paths were water free, the lay of the grass and the thick clumps of detritus strewn around showed clearly that the water had at one point rushed across.
The camp site had clearly been hit hard as at least two large pieces of decking were laying haphazardly on the wrong side of the river, and several large orange gas tanks had been beached on the path, the local parks trust will have some tidying to do soon!
The far reaches of the pits are inaccessible when the paths are flooded so I chose not to head too far, but reaching the more Easterly pits I was able to locate the pair of Oystercatchers that had been flying around calling earlier. Also on these pits two Goosander remain, and with a small flock of Fieldfare and Redwing remain the last vestiges of the winter birds.
|Before the Mists Cleared|
|In the Mists of Time|
As I began my return journey the sun began to burn its way through the mist and I was very quickly walking in beautiful, hazy sunshine, the chill of the fog now gone, the area sprang into life as bird song began to reach my ears from every corner. Mainly it was from Wren, Dunnock and Robin, but there were plenty of Blackbird and Song Thrush too.
The camp site lakes, now visible, held 3 pairs of dancing Great Crested Grebe (a record number for me to see here), as well as a healthy Tufted Duck party, well into double figures, and I even spotted Broken wing, the resident Greylag Goose swimming in the shallows of the western pits.
|Great Tit enjoying the Spring sunshine|
Green Woodpeckers "yaffled" from various locations along the walk but their cousin the Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard drumming from the small coppice across the river by the Aqueduct.
Spring suddenly arrived with the sun today.
Return To The Floods
With the sun now shining I thought I would return to the earlier scenes of the floods and see if I could capture a photo of the watery devastation. Along the way I paused to photograph a rather splendid looking Little Egret and while doing so had a pair of Long-tailed Tit come and feed just above my head (too close to photograph most of the time!).
|Little Egret climbing a branch|
|Getting Close to a Long-tailed Tit|
arriving back at the gate I had earlier stood by the waters had gone! There were still soggy. muddy puddles but vast amounts of flood water had, within the space of a couple of hours, completely vanished. Mother nature can be a fascinating creature at times.
|Gateway to the Floods no more!|
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