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  • Writer's picturePeter Howarth

Up a Creek without a Paddle

My day off has finally arrived and my alarm clock is set. Fives days behind a checkout would drive anyone insane and it was time for some well earned me time. The tail end of Storm Dennis has passed and the weather has finally broken. The rain and wind has been relentless over the last few days with serious flood warnings up and down the country. I paid no mind to this as I headed towards my place of solace, Leighton Moss.

I arrive and am pleased to note a lack of wind, I checked the forecast the night before and it promised gales. Upon entering the reserve I am met with the sounds of Thrushes, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Bullfinches and many more song birds, what a way to start a morning. Walking on I notice the water level is slightly higher than normal, as I think about the implications of this a splash distracts me as a Water Rail disappears into the reed bed. After a few minutes of walking I am greeted by a sign telling me the path ahead is flooded. I look down the path and smirk at the puddles before me, maybe it is an old sign I think?

D7500 Nikon 50mm 1/1600 sec at f/2.5, ISO 100

The wind has picked up a bit (maybe the forecast was right?), so I stop at the Causeway Hide to check how it is affecting the lake. The water is choppy with little white horses forming at the top of the waves. To my surprise though there is still a large number of waterfowl present, including a pair of female Goldeneye tucked away on the far side of the lake. Thinking the wind hasn't put off the birds I press on towards the Lower Hide.

On my travels I spook a further two Water Rail, which i must say I find quite remarkable. Usually such a timid bird seeing one is treat, yet here I am having seen three in one day. As I near the lower hide the path gets boggier and boggier until at last I come to a bridge. The river this bridge crosses has bursts its banks and now covers the path forward. I tentatively step into the water hoping beyond hope my shoes waterproofing holds, unfortunately it does not. With half a mind to turn back I think of the potential Bittern I may see and trudge on.

D7500 Nikon 50mm 1/320 sec at f/1.8, ISO 220

After effectively swimming the rest of the way I make it to the Lower Hide, my feet frozen, I sit down in the corner and have some hot chocolate. Willing heat back into my feet I look out over the lake, it is devoid of life. During my journey the wind picked up and is now roaring across the water surface, no self respecting bird would have been seen today. I look out of the hide at the nothingness before me for a moment longer and feeling sorry for myself set off back to the car.

D7500 Nikon 50mm 1/320 sec at f/1.8, ISO 500

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