Tales from the Riverbank

  • February 2, 2018 6:56 pm

The thin January light seeps through Winter’s brown stems, warming the muddy tones faintly golden. The cold grips my limbs despite three layers, as I sit frozen to the damp riverbank. A Blackbird whispers his subsong in the cool sunlight, practising for when Spring arrives. The water is high, and the river flows fast, eddies and ripples and swirls of bubbles fizz downstream. The vegetation leans with the current, a Grey Wagtail alights here, bouncing tail and bright lemon zing in the sparkling river light.

He flits away upstream as a pair of Swans and their grown up Cygnet cruise slowly into view.

They paddle by both peacefully and powerfully, taking the current in their stride.

The water ahead rolls, a darkness boils up and becomes living, a hump of greasy fur coils above the surface, and is followed by a sharp straight tail. Sinking away, gone, the river settles. Closer, a trail of bubbles appears from the depths, with anticipation I follow each new one as it shimmers upwards. A nose rises through the water, a broad head, and wet whiskers decorated with pearls of liquid, pauses at the bank and calmly observes her domain. An Otter. A privilege to see and always enchanting to watch. She relaxes in the sheltered water of the bank, just her nose, eyes and ears in the cold air, and in perfectly evolved alignment. She tips her head, takes a breath, and curls back into the river, so smooth that maybe she is made from the water itself.

 

 

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Slavonian Grebe

  • January 25, 2013 6:38 pm

Out practising with the new lens today, and decided to head to the fine city of Norwich. More specifically, Whitlingham Country Park. Despite being close to the hustle and bustle of the city, the park often attracts our more unusual winter wildlife. The local waterfowl proved to be great target training.

Mute Swan, Cygnus olor, adult preening, close up, graceful, Norfolk, Winter

A serene Mute Swan, that is, until it tries to steal your Jaffa cake… (don’t ask!)

Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula, female, swimming, Norfolk, Winter

Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula, female, swimming, Norfolk, Winter

These female Tufted ducks were more confiding than the black and white males.

Then I spotted the star of the show. Small, grey with a startling red eye. A first for me – an overwintering Slavonian Grebe.

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

There is a very small breeding population in the UK, but they are more often seen in the winter months around our coasts.

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

He seemed quite content feeding with the other larger birds, often getting lost in the throng, and lost to view. It was bitterly cold lying on the frozen ground waiting for him to resurface, but still great to watch a bird I’ve never seen before. Despite the fluffy appearance he never seemed to get wet!

The snow hasn’t cleared yet, providing a nice reflected uplighting in the dull conditions.

Greylag goose, Anser anser, feeding in snow, Norfolk, Winter

 
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