Human life was in abundance and some children were finding that the ducks were bored of food; they were full, as there was no immediate rush from the mallards when something was thrown. In some spots there was evidence of soggy white bread in abundance! There were few gulls around and the tern were as always far more interested in tasty small fish. Marsworth was up to a good level, but Startops End was still low, whereas Tringford was pleasantly full after having spent several weeks abysmally low and giving cormorants an early Christmas.
I had come to see whether I could capture dragonflies, and preferably in flight, and catch sight of kingfishers, but I came in hope rather than conviction that I would succeed, but I was very pleasantly surprised at least on that front. Also I came light – merely one camera, the 100-400mm lens and monopod. So the long walk was far from wearisome. I did notice that on Startops some anglers had taken advantage of the lower level, to set up at the water’s edge. The sun had burnt off the early mist, and a breeze blew the reeds and on the walk I did spot some dragonflies, but this was fleeting.
I suppose thirty minutes passed before a kingfisher arrived to stay awhile, and the first visit showed me that their food was not exclusively fish; it was hard to tell precisely, but I think it was a dragonfly, certainly after that on another visit the bird spent as much time looking skywards as the insect kingdom’s helicopters buzzed around. Although between visits, I heard the characteristic plops of diving kingfishers, I never saw mine with any fish. During the lulls I did spot what I later gleaned were likely European catfish, at least three had come to the surface with extreme langour, interspersed with some thrashing around, which seemed to break up the surface-floating algae.
I was buzzed fairly constantly by two distinct colours of dragonfly; orange and blue, but they knew I had a long lens as the only hovering was done within a foot of me, and flies and hoverflies even landed on my lenshood. Since the camera was on the monopod, even had I had another shorter lensed camera it would have a palaver to try get shots of these encounters. I stayed several hours in the shade and was also able to see the kingfisher preening as it was so relaxed, it was the closest I had ever managed to get on one occasion, but only marred by the intervening out-of-focus branches causing the contrast to drop.
Altogether a really satisfying afternoon of observation and photography. I met one other photographer who had been watching godwits, but members of the public and their dogs and children kept playing on the foreshore scaring them off just as he was trying to get shots; sadly he did not have a good day!