The brightest part of today was forecast to be early morning, so we had just one cup of coffee to wake up, partially at least, before wandering down the road to Ludham Bridge for a saunter along the River Ant. I know there’s a colony of Variable damselflies nearby but I thought it’d be too early for those in these temperatures, both seasonally too early and too early in the day. Nonetheless, ever hopeful of other insect interest, I mounted my 40-150 lens with a 1.4X.
Naturally there was no sign of anything insect-like, certainly not flying around and I saw only one fly sitting. I can’t get excited about most diptera; hoverflies are an exception but I didn’t find any of those, either. Given air temperature blowing across the reed beds, I was less than surprised.
Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant walk and we continued along the track to the frequent rattling of Reed Warblers in the … yes, reeds. They keep up an almost constant chatter but you rarely actually see them.
Part way along our route we flushed a large bird from the reeds beside the river. We though Heron at first but no, as it turned to drift across our track I could see it was a raptor, a Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus). How’s that for a genus name: Circus? Wonderful. So was the bird. Where’s my 300mm lens when I needed it, though? I got a few less than wonderful pictures with my slightly-too-small lens as teh majestic bird casually drifted off into the distance.
It must have done some sort of loop while we weren’t watching. We’d popped down a short side track for a nose and as we turned I saw it flying back from the direction we’d come. This time the bird was closer and crossing us and the poor little lens (it’s actually a very good piece of glass) did a reasonable job, though bigger would’ve been better. You can rarely be over-lensed when it comes to birds and what a glorious bird this is.
Working off a traditional first morning fried breakfast – call it brunch by the time we had it – we spent 90 minutes or so over lunch time at Alderfen. Alderfen is a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve and one of my personal favourites. It was very quiet; very quiet and very boggy so it’s a good job we’d got our wellies in the car. More than half way around our loop we’d seen nothing, nada, rien. At the final turn back towards the car a Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) flew around me, low down, and disappeared. Bother. A little further on I did find a second suspect sitting more cooperatively so I got some proof for a record. Nearly at the car, a third fluttered up into the trees.
We continued past the car onto a track on the opposite side of the reserve. We’d never been down this one before but a small stream trickles along beside it so it looked promising. It was; we got our count up to nine. Our mates were braving a still chill wind coming down from the north. Most of these were tenerals taking their maiden flights but the one I snagged looked more mature. Still, season underway in this part of Norfolk.