A cacophony of noise hit me as I arrived at the nature reserve, as dozens of Canada Geese took to the air, in noisy, honking, flights, leaving the frozen waters of the floodplain Forest behind as they headed out to forage for food in the frosty fields of the Ouse Valley.
Having walked along side the frozen Grand Union canal, looking stunning in the early morning sun, as her rays twinkled off the crackling surface and the sparkling frost, clinging to every plant and tree along its course. I arrived for once from the farm side and was greeted by the aforementioned noise and a stunning scene of light mists, blue skies and frosty, wintry images.
Grand Union Canal looking past the Galleon Pub
Frozen Grand Union Canal in Old Wolverton
Spreading out before me the scenes of winter were a photographers dream, scenes of glittering frost, and icy water; light mists drifting off the frozen lakes and fast flowing river, low winter sun casting a golden light through the trees adding an amber hue to the reserve, and brilliant blue skies above.
Frosty Back Brook at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Owl Box in the Mist
Brilliant Blues – The Viaduct Hide at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Main Hide at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Misty View over Nature Reserve
Water Tower and Church at Castlethorpe through the mist
The areas of remaining open water were muddle of different duck species. Whistling wigeon filled the air with their melancholy call, synonymous with winter to my mind. Tiny Teal, hugged the banks, attempting to shelter from the ice, while Gadwall and Mallard quacked about in raucous abandon, already feeling the approaching spring in their amorous advances.
In the deeper waters Pochard and Tufted duck dived relentlessly, searching for their underwater prey, while three Goosander paraded elegantly as they swam. Shovelers swept their spoon like bills through the waters edges snapping at the waters surface, creating tiny bubbles and filtering particles of food.
Greylag Goose, head
Gadwall in Flight
Grey Heron in the water
A pair of Stonechats remain in residence around the farm hide, often perching on the wire fences and frost covered posts, their stunning colours of oranges and browns a colourful reminder of the year ahead. There were more signs of the approaching season change. They could be heard more than seen, as the echoing sound of drumming Great Spotted woodpeckers rattled from a number of locations around the reserve. Their cousin the Green Woodpecker, more obvious as the yellow rumps flashed across the skies in a bounding flight.
Stonechat on Wire Fence
Male Stonechat on Frost Covered Fence Post
The Full Glory of a Male Stonechat
Small charms of Goldfinch fed voraciously on teasel and other seed heads all over the patch and by the old lock were joined by at least two Redpoll, a not too common species through the year. A Flash of yellow/green wingbars in a small finch with them revealed the presence of a Siskin, a rare sighting for me.
Redpoll Ready to fly
Overjoyed with a wonderful walk in the crisp cold of a January day; And having been witness to wonderful wildlife and beautiful scenes. I headed back home. The miles walked adding to my 2500 miles target for the year (please consider clicking the donation link at the top right of this page).