I had not travelled to Tring Reservoirs for some time, so on a whim I phoned the Water Bailliff to find out if I was able to get my car parked nearby, but he was in a meeting and could not speak, so would speak to me in the afternoon; the answer suggested I might still be lucky, so I travelled down later on the offchance and was lucky, and since I found the gate unlocked, I phoned him, and learned he was down at the lake himself, so asked was it OK; he told me fine, and I went along to meet him. We chatted about his wife who has been unlucky with her health. He broke off suddenly when he spotted a cormorant.
They are having a lot of trouble with cormorants that are very damaging to the lake’s fish, and Bob is constantly using a cap gun to scare them off, but it seems it is a battle that the cormorants are winning as they are increasingly taking no notice of his efforts to drive them away. Unlike herons that eat smaller fish, the cormorants go for the trout and often just wound them, resulting in many of them dying from their wounds, which leaves the anglers very angry, especially since restocking is so expensive. I left him to his task and set off with my camera and monopod, to Marsworth.
The water level was very low and the few birds that were there were gathered en masse on the shore close by the stream that fills Startops lake, there were several cygnet families, Canada geese, black-headed gulls, greylags and coots all together in the shallow water or the exposed foreshore. I spotted a Mallard drake making a beeline for two others, and it seemed he was exhorting them to join him and bring the duck along too, which I found intriguing as at first I had thought he was being aggressive. Awhile later I spotted first a small dusty-shaded butterfly I took to be a Speckled Wood, and also a Red Admiral, which surprised me so late in the season. In my walk along the canal towpath I met several couples out with their dogs and in the course of conversation learned of a pair of herons between the locks, but at this time I did not see them.
Later still whilst I was down at the water’s edge looking ahead expectantly waiting for sight of a kingfisher, I glanced to my right and there was a silhouette that looked very like a kingfisher in the dark dead branches completely still – putting the camera to my eye I realised my good fortune and slowly I focussed on him, and opened up two stops and increased the ISO and just hoped as I watched that it might be enough to allow me to brighten it later in Lightroom. I took several shots as he swung his head around every so often sometimes with his eye showing, and when I ‘chimped’ I thought they were going to severely lack colour as he was in such deep shade. Much later on the computer in Lightroom I was really amazed at how much detail I had succeeded in getting from the gloom in which they were shot.
Having been rewarded by the kingfisher shots I walked further along the canal, but on the outward journey failed to spot the youngster on the far side, however on my return, there it was perched on one leg absolutely motionless. I got some shots in profile by waiting for him to be distracted by some of the strollers, I thanked them and we chatted as I headed back to the car. We parted company at the junction of the towpath and the two lakes, and I met up once again with Bob and another angler and was treated to a snack of pork pie and a cup of tea, before heading back to Marston Moretaine.