9 June 2020

Nearly stayed in today because the weather forecast said 50% chance of rain. I would have missed out if I had. Saw the egret again briefly and decided to sketch it from what I'd seen over the past few weeks.  While I was sketching, a red kite was circling overhead. And then came the best of all, a marsh harrier flying low over the lake. A family of coots darted into the reeds for cover at the sight of it. I saw it four times, each time no more than 10-15 m away. Just as I was putting my sketchbook away a swallow flew overhead.

1 June 2020

The swan family were back in the exact same spot which gave me a chance to sketch a couple of the cygnets to show how they've grown in the past week. Necks are longer and more swan like but their wings are still more like a chicken's.

 

Lastly, I saw a couple of much bigger dragonflies. From the size of them (I'd guess around 6 or 7 cm) they were probably some kind of hawker. Certainly the biggest bug I've ever seen in the wild. I've drawn the three types I've seen there roughly to scale.

26 May 2020

Today at the reed beds - a coot ducking and diving, a female mallard doing a bit of yoga and a pair of what I'm going to guess were reed buntings. They were very active. flying back and forth between the bull rushes and a tree across the water. I wonder if they were using the bull rushes in their nest.

24 May 2020

Sat on the bank opposite some low, overhanging branches and waited for kingfishers. Instead I got a family of swans, some dragonflies in a romantic mood and a coot killing that mood by eating one of them.

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An observation here - if you want to see water birds do interesting things, don't feed them. If you throw bread into the water then all you'll see them do is eat bread. If you want to see them catch fish or insects or interact with each other or their environment, wait quietly, watch and let them do their thing. 

19 May 2020

Today at the reed beds: one of many mosquitoes that thought I was an all you can eat buffet, a coot doing a passable impression of Jesus and a heron moments before a lightning strike at an unsuspecting fish.

16 May 2020

Moorhen and chicks. These little black balls of fluff with bright red beaks and absurdly big feet were adorable. Two of them stayed with mum while the other wandered around on his own. Reminded me of a mother with three kids in the supermarket yelling to the child halfway down the next aisle, "Kevin, get back here!"

15 May 2020

Not drawn to scale. There are not giant prehistoric dragonflies in Berkshire.

To get a good look at the dragonflies I walked well into the long grass where they were everywhere. Later I saw on one of the information boards that there are adders there. For those not familiar with them, yes adders are venomous. No they won't kill you but a bite would have seriously ruined my day.

9 May 2020

Took my sketchbook to the reed beds just outside Reading, Berkshire. Lots of activity both on the water in front of me and the trees behind. I'd been sitting there no more than thirty seconds when a heron took off from the reeds and flew past no more than five metres in front of me.