As I walked the path between Marsworth and Startops End reservoirs, it was often gusting and particularly bitter and I was glad of the extra clothing I had donned before I left. My fingerless gloves were very ineffective in retaining heat, especially since the monopod had no insulation, unlike my tripod. There was not a lot of avian activity and when I arrived there were even fewer cars parked, and no anglers as I walked beyond the park fork and along the Grand Union Canal; now a few intrepid dog walkers and joggers appeared, but each were in their own worlds offering no communication; no acknowledgement of a fellow human, facing the same bitter wind and biting cold.
As I arrived in my normal spot awaiting possible birds such as the elusive kingfisher, there were few sounds of birdsong, just the occasional flapping of wood-pigeons as they crashed noisily through the almost bare branches of hawthorn. The ground was muddy and slippery offering no dry seat so I propped myself against an ivy-clad tree trunk and put down the monopod as being surplus except for manoeuvring down the steep bank, and looked around me as I heard the high-pitched whistling that I felt sure was the local robin – it was only a slight surprise when I heard a light rustle of leaves and there was my regular companion during my previous visits, looking entirely composed low down on a branch no more than two feet away.
I said: “Hello”, but s/he (for I know not the sex of the bird!) just kept looking my way with no particular interest, but there was eye-contact which was more than I received from my human contacts so far. I enquired of the possibilities of a kingfisher visit, but the robin simply flew to a different perch, at least now, just far enough distant for me to get shots, but the bird presumably knew that by moving yet closer, I would be unable to focus on it, meaning I had to keep carefully moving a few steps back or choose a different subject. Since none were to hand I just tried to cajole him into choosing different branches, but he felt under no obligation to accept my requests, and so I tried tempting him by producing some peanuts and throwing them in more open spots, but he studiously avoided my bribes and at one stage flew to the ground by my feet, flicked up a leaf and found a juicy worm!
He became my focus of attention (for I decided that as a Robin he was a he) and I simply waited till he decided he would move elsewhere within his territory; he did however condescend to try some of my nuts.
I ventured from this spot after a while and took to the path alongside the reedbeds and spotted a vast flock of Canada geese had formed up and watched as they went en-masse first in one direction, then about turn and moved in the opposing direction, then I could hear the elders squawking there voting for a move from water to the nearby fields, and soon about a quarter of the assembled birds took noisily to the air, I decided this was an activity that was worth my attention, despite my not having the same feeling for Canada Geese as I have for the the Greylags, and this stems largely from the fact that I like to see the eyes of birds and animals, and the eyes of greylags are far more visible.
It was this return trip that I did find myself talking to other members of my species, and one was a fellow photographer, another a birdwatcher who enquired whether I had seen the redwings, and another an angler, and all of us were now heading slowly homeward, but each stopping then meeting up again as opportunities arose in both of us photographers for yet another shot. By now I was definitely finding the rising wind making my fingers sore with the cold, and the refuge of my car was definitely an enticement that was increasingly hard to ignore! I had replied no to the birdwatcher, but a bird I spotted amongst the red berries of a tree was most likely one.