Brilliant sunshine sparkled in the large drops of water, hanging heavily from the dew soaked blackthorn leaves and frost tinged grass, low mist clung to the river valley and the chill of an autumnal morning filled the air with a cold crispness that only the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness can offer up. A chiffchaff called from high in the willows, a last vestige of summer now keeping company with Blue Tits.
Around the church yard the tit flocks are building, Long-tailed tits leading the way, their high pitched “peep” echoing from all around, Great Tits call out from higher up the canopy, shouting out for teacher while a Coal Tit, now joining the flocks for winter, called back. Below the church the mist spread out across the Ouse Valley in pockets, brilliant white against the duller trees and brilliant blue of the skies.
|Misty Morning in the Ouse Valley|
|Cattle in the mist|
A Little Owl, again was again nestled into the long hedge, this time keeping it’s bright yellow eye on me while also watching the local Magpies that were creeping around the same bushes.
|Little Owl hidden in the trees|
A Cold Crispness
As I walked on, the low lying sun continued to warm my back, as it shone from over my shoulder, creating a shadow of myself, elongated in front of me leading me on passed the old lock, while the bitter cold of the morning froze my hands as I carried my camera. Around me Redwings let their presence be known as they flew overhead calling or squabbled in the bushes around me, newly having arrived from the north. Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Bullfinch called out from bushes, hidden from sight amongst the yellowing leaves.
|Redwing in the Trees|
By the time I reached the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve the mists had been burnt off by the warming sun, although the coldness remained in the shaded areas. The pits themselves were pretty bereft of birds sadly, a few ducks could be seen sleeping on the banks, Common Snipe fed frenziedly along the margins and a few Grey Heron and Little Egret waded the still waters but nothing much else of note.
|Rook in Flight|
|Carrion Crow on Fence|
Approaching the Stilt Pits suddenly all the birds took to the air. Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler were joined in the sky by Black Headed Gulls and Cormorants. I started scanning the skies but could not see what might have startled them to flight and then I noticed the tractor moving along the river path and realised the reasons (more in a moment on that – final thoughts).
Even though I assumed the disturbance would mean there wouldn’t be much about I headed to the Viaduct hide anyway. Just in case. I was nearly right a stunning Grey Wagtail dropped in in front of me offering great views.
|Another shot of the Grey Wagtail|
Leaving the hide to yet more disturbance I headed back along the path, this time using the opportunity to photograph a few of the duck before heading back home once again.
|Wigeon in Flight|
|Wigeon in Flight|
A Final Thought
As an aside we all know that common sense is not very common but it seems to be lacking in the parks trust completely at the moment.
Last week they cut back all the scrub that separates the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve from the path along the River Ouse. A mistake in my opinion as now the area of the stilt pits is open to dogs, legitimately off the lead while on the river path, to see and enter the nature reserve under the recently replaced fence, the old fence prevented this as well. This week they are cutting down ALL the willows along the river.
Now the reasons for the later are valid (see photo of the sign that is up). But since they cut back the scrub and exposed the path there is now no separation of the tractors and trucks, hauling out the fallen trees, from the birds causing the local ducks and few waders real disturbance issues.
Common sense and communication could have seen this work be completed in reverse order or at the same time and reduced the disturbance to the local wildlife of the nature reserve, but what do I know.
|Sign put up by parks trust about willow cutting|
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