Saturday, 5 June 2010

Beetles, birds and one very unlucky eel.

Despite exams looming once again on the horizon - I couldn't resist making the most of some sunny weather and heading to the Wetland Centre. A beautiful calm, warm day with only slightly hazy light streaming across the lakes heralded for some good photography.

To kick things off - I cant resist putting this photos first, despite it being one of the last I took today! I find beetles fascinating - something I attribute to a previous life as a 19th century explorer/coleopterologist for lack of better explanation - so when this one buzzed passed me I scampered after him to find where he landed. Beautifully radiant in the sun, I later identified this emerald beastie as a rose chafer. Gorgeous.

For more info on this lovely beetle:

Ok, so back to a more chronological approach. As is my ever developing routine, I started at the Wader Scrape hide. As i settled down, an old friend of mine (see a few posts previous!) started hopping about the luscious greenery right in front of my lens. Feasting on the plentiful bugs, this little wren looked wonderfully content as he flitted by!

Things then became rather calm. The cosy, warm weather seemed to be as soporific on the ducks as it was on me. A little while later, however, I caught a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. Sadly I wasnt quite quick enough to catch him as he passed close to the hide, but to see a kingfisher is a real treat! This was the best image i caught - he was rather far off by this point so it is rather grainy.

Despite the excitement of the kingfishers, things quickly settled back down at the wader scrape and i decided it was time to move on. As midday approached, activity at the other hides (dulverton and WWF) seemed to pick up. I caught this shot of a starling coming in to land largely by chance, but i love the contrast between his oil-slicked black and the green of the foliage.

Back to bugs, and if there was one type that was really conspicuous today it was the dragonflies. They were everywhere! This is one of my better efforts at snapping some of these little on one of the smaller ponds by the path.

The best is yet to come! Just as I was about to leave and return to the monotony of revision, a eagle-eyeled bird watcher spotted something rather brilliant. A cormorant, who had been cruising around near the hide earlier, was causing a commotion in the middle of the main lake. Amazingly, he had caught a rather large eel and was thrashing around in a duel with the slithery serpent. After a prolonged struggle, the cormorant's sharp pointed beak won out, and without a second glance, the improbably large eel was flicked up and gradually gulped into the belly of the bird. Amusingly, throughout the Coots clearly found it all very interesting and gathered round the cormorant, seemingly as enthused as we all were in the hide!

The only unfortunate detail about all this was the distance. Too far for my 300mm lens, these snaps are heavily cropped - but i think they give an idea of the events!

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