Following yesterday’s False Start with our bikes securely fastened to their carriers and yours truly being sans key, the embarrassing lack of key having been rectified, this morning we thought we’d have another go at getting going. Yesterday having begun with our traditional fried breakfast (why is it that no other country in Europe fully understands breakfast?) but having been disqualified for leaving the starting blocks incorrectly, today’s second start required a second fried breakfast. [Thinks: must leave keys at home more often.]
We weren’t the only ones breakfasting. Guillaume is pitched in a blackbird family’s territory and family Blackbird was out foraging, the two parent birds feeding two youngsters who stood out looking decidedly gingery up front. Shooting pictures through Guillaume’s plastic windows is never very satisfactory, especially in abysmal light. However, as I left Guillaume to do some camp duties, I caught one of the young ‘ns using Francine’s now unlocked bicycle wheel as a perch. It seemed completely unfazed and let me click away at a relatively short distance. Mind you, I was using Guillaume’s porch awning as cover.
As we continued to watch through Guillaume’s optically imperfect windows, Francine excitedly declared, “there’s an Odo”. Even with my new bionic eyeball I was having trouble locating it but I did see a streak as it zoomed about in the corner of our field along the hedge that borders it. Francine thought the culprit had settled on the hedge and went to search for it. She got very close to the hedge, so close that I suggested it must have flown through because, had it been there, she’d surely have spooked it by now. “I thought it went into the hedge”, she said. I peered into a very dark hole/recess in the hedge and, sure enough, hanging at the back, I could just make out a dragonfly. (The culprit was at the back of the recess indicated by the arrow in the picture.)
Francine’s camera was to hand and with a decent lens mounted; I peered through it and focussed. “Bugger me, it’s go the tell-tale yellow triangle – it’s only a bloody Norfolk Hawker!”, I exclaimed profanely. 1/8th second didn’t look promising for a picture though, so dimly lit was the recess in the hedge, but nonetheless Francine fetched my camera complete with macro lens as I kept watch. Somehow, I loosed off 75 monopod-assisted shots using a variety of combinations of settings including ISO 800, ISO 1600, F8 and F5.6, in an attempt to get something recognisable from the appalling light level. Unsurprisingly, F5.6 and ISO 1600 were the only shots that really worked and, after a little extra noise reduction, I was happy that I’d got a usable shot.
Then I woke up. “Wait a moment, this camera has a built-in flash.” Flash can look terribly false and I hardly ever use it. However, needs must. After all, this was the main purpose of my trip here. I tried a mixture of dedicated flash and fill-in flash, the latter producing the best result and I finally had what I think is a really decent shot of my intended Norfolk quarry. I think this individual is female and I’m wondering, given its behaviour, if it is a recently emerged female that was looking for somewhere to shelter. The temperature was an Odo-unfriendly 12°C, or thereabouts. (Our maximum today was a blistering 14°C. Pitiful!)
Eventually I managed to tear myself away from Guillaume’s latest friend and Francine and I went for a bike ride through Horning and into Wroxham. In the same way that Padstow in Cornwall has about a dozen establishments in the Rick Stein empire, Wroxham is famous for its plethora of stores, also about a dozen, bearing the Roys name. In the Roys supermarket we found some dressed Cromer crabs for lunch which we destroyed with brown bread, mayonnaise and a little mustard, though I’m ashamed to admit that the mustard was French Dijon. Don’t tell anyone, we’d be thrown out of Norfolk. 😀
I can’t believe it. We drove the 125 miles up here, added to that a 250-mile round trip home and back to retrieve our missing keys, we haven’t been out looking yet and a Norfolk Hawker has come and found us and hung up beside Guillaume in his campsite pitch. I’ve been wrong all along – there IS a God!
Our celebrity guest is still hanging in our hedge this evening as I write this. Clearly it’s there for the night. It’ll probably be there until things warm up a bit. Odos are like me, they like warmth but they really need sun.
Let’s hope it does warm up ‘cos Francine and I both went and bought some warmer clothes today.