Hard to Swallow

The sun was shining and I had the opportunity to get out and about.  I toyed with the idea of cycling down to Greylake but I was just feeling a little lazy and opted for four wheels rather than two.  Driving really isn't the best form of transport. It always makes me feel a bit detached from the surroundings.  When you are on a bike you are part of it and it just feels better.  Still at least I could get there quicker.

Wandering along the boardwalk at Greylake I considered the flooding that had taken place only a couple of months ago.  It was hard to believe that the whole reserve had been underwater.  Surely the animals living there would be depleted or worse still... 

I was especially concerned for that much maligned beast, the Grass snake.  Greylake has always been a good spot for these, the largest of our slithery reptiles.  At that point a big female slid into a ditch and then disappeared into some long grass (a large female snake, just to avoid confusion).  At least one had survived then...

I tried pointing it out to "the lady".  She will be known by this name as she plays are part in the story.  But she arrived about 2 seconds to late...

I decamped at the raised hide and had a good scan around.  A Great White Egret was fishing to my left and a Little Grebe was struggling with a hapless Roach. He was finding it hard to swallow.  But eventually the plucky duck eventually won and gulped down his prize.

Then I spotted a yellow flash out in the field.  Locking on with my binoculars I spied a Yellow wagtail.  What a splendid bird.  Very similar to a Canary.  Two other chaps were also casually viewing.  I tried my absolute best to show them where it was and even offered up my scope but to no avail...  they could find it.

The exact same thing happened when "the lady" popped into the hide.  At this point a second wagtail had joined in.  Being a polite sort I persevered but it didn't work.  I always feel that an experience shared is always for the better.  Perhaps the large swan sat next too me saw wagtails as well.

Then there was a rather loud "clack, clack, clack" under the hide.  It sounded like someone firing a pop gun.  A frenzy of uncertain looks and pacing around the hide ensued.  But there was nothing.  I had no idea... neither did anyone else.

On the way back "the lady"  told me that she had seen an RSPB warden and he thought it was something hitting the electric fence... what an anti climax.  I had hoped that it was some king of exotic vagrant that sound like a pop gun.

Still this Reed Bunting was fairly happy to be gawped at, as was this Chaffinch at the feeders in the carpark.

Next stop was Catcott.  I was hoping that the Garganeys might be there.  On the way I noticed a new carpark and... a new reserve!  I hopped out and with half an hour was in a brand, spanking new hide.  I did get a good view of 2 displaying Sparrowhawks and 2 Roe deer munching on some grass.  At this point "the lady" walked in. 

I pointed out a Blackcap which promptly flew off as soon as she walked across to see it... It was the theme of the day.

I did notice a raptor flying low and fast, but it all happened so fast I couldnt I.D. it.  I would place my bets on a Sparrowhawk but it might have been something more unusual.

This will be a great spot in the winter.  Watch this space!

On the way back I chatted with "the lady".  We discussed various birding stories and encounters.  Now birders can at times be show offs (there, I have said it).  If you have seen an elephant than they have got a box to put it in.  I was very careful to avoid this and luckily she did to. 

The lady was off to Ham Wall.  I decided that 3 encounters would just be weird so on i went to Catcott. 
Here I found the first cute chicks of the year.


Other than that it was pretty quiet.  I was told that I had missed 2 Marsh harriers (typical).  After a couple of Egret flybys I had had my fill.  Last stop was Tealham Moor.

It was like stepping back in time.  At one point I half expected a T.Rex to come crashing through the trees.  The herons were making all sorts of primeval barks and weird bubbly, gurggly sounds.  They really are from another time.  I think we take these ancient  fisherman a bit for granted as they are truly impressive birds.

Heading home I stopped to look at a swallow sat on the wires.  These heralds of spring a one of my favourite birds.  But they don't like sitting still.  Unfortunately my camera struggles with fast moving subjects (and slow ones in poor light).  Still a bad workman always blames his tools.

I settled for this shot and thought it looked quite nice in black and white (just to be different).  Hopefully I can get some better ones as the summer begins.

Its definitely hard to Swallow...


  1. Amazing captures and blog here! I initially noticed your “Grebe vs Fish” shot. That looks like a big (for the bird!) fish staring down its captor’s throat!

    So the bird was really able to win the struggle and gulp down that big fish okay?? Does the prey put up a good fight, if eaten, does the unlucky fish get swallowed wriggling/alive all the way as well?!


  2. Hi Kyle
    Glad you liked the post. The fish do put up a good struggle as any of us would but the birds usually tire them out or kill before swallowing. I'm sure a few would riggle a bit in the stomach.