I felt I needed to chance taking the opportunity to Visit the Reservoirs at Tring for possibly the last time this year., despite there being light rain forecast. When I first arrived it had not yet started, but as I took the first few photographs the first few drops arrived, but I was well wrapped up in case it got worse, but surprisingly for mid-November, it was not too cold – at least before I had been stationary for long.
The first bird of interest was a heron standing in just a few inches of water, but it barely moved during the time it took me to set up the tripod, and actually losing my footing on the steep bank of Startops End lake. I was surprised at just how many birds were on the water considering how much noise was being made by the workers presumably doing repair work to the far bank.
I headed beyond the end of the path between the two reservoirs of Marsworth and Startops End and waled along the Grand Union Canal, meeting the occasional dog walker, but as yet no anglers. I settled to wait by the reed beds in the hope of possibly catch sight of kingfishers, but for the first hour and a half, only a dabchick appeared, though I failed to capture the squirrel on two of its charges across the fallen branches and into its favourite lair within a large bush on the far side.
Also, the mink never ventured out of its hollowed tree trunk, but my firm favourite, the well-groomed Robin did join me and partook of my seed offerings, and gently chirped as it flew around its territory either side, behind me and by my feet. I did catch a fleeting glimpse of a heron overhead, but as there was so little leaf coverage, it almost certainly decided against landing on any of the high branches due to my presence.
Although I never felt like giving up and returning to base, it was a very long wait before the arrival of a kingfisher, and as luck would have it, he had succeeded in in catching a fish and was landing on a distant branch to swallow it. It took him quite a time to swallow as it was fairly energetically twisting in the vain hope of escaping, but a final deft flick, possibly also bashing it on the nearby trunk and the kingfisher began to turn it so it was headfirst and in one large gulp, and a straightening of its throat, it was down.
I stayed for another hour, but was visited no more, and by now was cold frosting still for so long.
I climbed back up the steep, muddy bank and made my return journey to the car. I did stop in the hide and chatted to an ex-Postie, newly retired and another birder, Michael eponymously named for his career and we all three chatted as I still took the opportunity to grab shots of a gull and some Crested Pochard, whom I managed to capture in flight as they left the lake and we also had a visit from another Robin and a Dunnock.
As Michael and I walked back to our cars, who should be coming in the opposite direction but Bob Menzies the Bailiff for Tringford!