After The Rains

After The Rains


For the last two days the rains have fallen from the heavens in near biblical proportions, breaks in the downpour have been few and far between as weeks worth of rain has splashed down across much of the UK but especially my home town of Milton Keynes. Today, the weather has brightened somewhat and the skies have, if not cleared, lightened. Today, after the rains, I ventured out onto the patch for the first walk in over a week, since my Stonechat encounter.

After The Rains


High clouds were allowing the autumn sun to shine through in patches, casting a misty light over the waters of the Grand Union Canal as I made my way to the swollen river Ouse. The thick brown waters of the usually lazy river were running at pace down stream, coloured like strong white coffee, the waters swept high along the banks, collecting long grasses and thick branches, but without having burst through yet. The area below the aqueduct, usually slow moving with wide grassy sides was deep under water.

Mist on the Canal
Mist on the Canal

Grand Union Canal
Grand Union Canal

Flood waters under the Aqueduct
Flood waters under the Aqueduct

A Swollen River Ouse
A Swollen River Ouse


I ponderously wandered down stream, following the rivers course as it swept past the campsite lakes, and under my feet into the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, having pulled a muscle in my lower back yesterday evening in a mad dash to the bus, my pace was slow and thoughtful. As I neared the gateway into the nature reserve a male Goosander flew through, low over the surrounding bushes the winter visitor powered through onto the reserve and vanished out of sight, I presume onto the stilt pits.

Male Goosander in Flight
Male Goosander in Flight


Entering the Nature Reserve


The flooded waters of the reserve held hundreds of Mallard, perhaps brought down river by the floodwaters of the river, or more likely gathering in numbers for protection over the colder months, sheltered in the reserve bays more than the exposed waters of the river of canal. As I walked the sodden edges small groups took to the air in flashes of wings and alarmed quacks of excitement, disturbed from their muddy waters by my close proximity.

A Group of Male Mallard
A Group of Male Mallard

An action shot of Mallards taking to flight
An action shot of Mallards taking to flight
After The Rains - A soggy walk around the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve.
After The Rains
Pin Image


The first noticeable blockage caused by the high waters came at one of the low lying bridges near to the aqueduct hide, the decurved design meant the middle section was now under ankle deep waters, luckily I was able to skirt along the edge of the bridge where the raised side rail allowed me to stay dry, although it was a precarious and somewhat bizarre looking feat, camera in hand as I was.

Entering the aqueduct hide, instead of the usual scrub and muddy grass, was a sheet of deep water, leading all the way across the reserve, broken only by the raised island areas.The skies began to darken a little as I gazed out across the rippling water, but unperturbed more Mallards could be found, the males dipping their shining green heads in display to their duller female companions.

View from Aqueduct Hide
View from Aqueduct Hide


I have to say I am a huge fan of the flooded reserve, the birds may not be as exciting as say in spring or autumn, and the likelihood of something rare turning up is diminished, but staring out across seemingly endless masses of flood water, while around you the loud quacking of mallards, reverberates around the river valley, the mournful whistling and piping of Wigeon and Teal as they lament the loss of summer and forage their way through the harsher weather of winter. Overhead chacking calls of Fieldfare as they move in ever increasing flocks, searching for the next berry laden bush. It is a wonderful, and peaceful time of year.

Back Brook Walk


Leaving the relative comfort of the hide behind I ventured out into the days chill once more and began to wander the rubberised path, walking the back brook path, Fieldfare and Redwing repeatedly flew off in flurries of whistles and chacks as the scrambled to get away from my approach, not yet desperate enough for food to ignore my presence. Deep withing the bushes small parties of Reed Bunting could occasionally be found, the flash of white on their outer tail feathers the first sign.

From the Farm hide, the view was once again an appealing vision of deep water, from hide to island bank, Pochard, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon and Mute Swan joined the mallard flocks here, with the occasional tufted duck diving up and down in desperate search of mollusc feasts.

Views from Farm Hide
Views from Farm Hide

Flood Waters of Main Pits
Flood Waters of Main Pits

Another view from Farm Hide
Another view from Farm Hide

Mute Swan in front of Farm Hide
Mute Swan in front of Farm Hide


As I headed further along the path I reached the first impassable waters of the season, a couple of attempts to continue met with water quickly up to me boot laces, and ended with retreat, I must remember to don my wellies next time I head out after rain of this magnitude, Heading back to the Farm hide I stopped for a chat with a fellow regular, as we scanned the cattle fields below the farm buildings in search of stonechats, unsuccessfully.

While watching and waiting overhead, Meadow Pipits and Grey Wagtails flew in amongst small flights of duck and geese. A Red Kite slowly drifted across the reserves waters before heading up over the hills towards Old Wolverton, and a larger flock of Lapwing flew through, searching for any semblance of mud to put down on.

Looking up at the Farm Buildings
Looking up at the Farm Buildings

Red Kite in Flight
Red Kite in Flight

Red Kite over Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Red Kite over Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve

Greylag Geese in Flight
Greylag Geese in Flight


As my walk began to conclude, the ache in my back now becoming more persistent the sun once again attempted to break through the clouds, the light its presence created some very appealing scenes as I continued on home.

More Views over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
More Views over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve

Darkening Skies
Darkening Skies

Blue Sky Emerging
Blue Sky Emerging

Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve

Autumn Floods
Autumn Floods

One last view of the reserve
One last view of the reserve

Grey Heron in Flight
Grey Heron in Flight

Swimming Mute Swan
Swimming Mute Swan

Swimming Mute Swan 2
Swimming Mute Swan 2 

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12 comments:

  1. Beautiful rainy-day photos with lovely light and reflections. Thank you for sharing your walk.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, there was no actual rain today, thankfully, more tha aftermath of rain :)

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  2. A really fascinating blog post, and some stunning photos as always. I particularly liked the image of the Goosander in flight.

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    Replies
    1. He was a stunner, hopefully the first of many this winter

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  3. Lovely photos - I love photos taken on gloomy days - and your photos of the swans are beautiful. #chasingnature

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, gloomy day photos do have that atmospheric feel to them don't they.

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  4. Amazing and atmospheric photos as always. I was quite glad that I was working during all that rainy weather so I didn't feel like I was missing out. Love the photos of all the birds in flight, so beautiful against the gloomy skies.

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    Replies
    1. I quite like a walk in the rain as long as I have a warm set of dry clothes waiting for me at home

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  5. Beautiful photos! I love the ones of the Red Kite; I remember my dad pointing them out to me when I was a child because they were endangered back then. There is a certain beauty to rainy day photos, and you've captured it really well. Angharad :)

    welshandwonderful.com

    #ChasingNature

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    Replies
    1. I remember having to visit mid Wales to see my first Red Kite and being really excited, I still love them now I think because of their rarity when I was young.

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  6. Fantastic photos, I love the moody skies. We really enjoy exploring our local nature reserve, there's always something new to discover - I don't think we've ever visited when there was water like this though!

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    1. Nature reserves are fantastic places no matter the reserve. This one is designed to flood though it takes a huge amount of excess water from the Great Ouse when it is high, to prevent some flooding down stream.

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