Friday, 17 February 2012

I Hate Half-term

Half term, a wondrous week when you were a youngster. Not quite the same as old age hits, the Plus sides I guess are the roads being so much quieter on the way to and from work. The down side being, the local Nature reserve turns into your average play park. 3 lunchtime visits this week, twice to Rooksbury Mill and to Anton Lakes yesterday, If I am honest I don't think I've ever seen so many people out and about around a slightly wild place in Andover, Kids fishing, paddling, SCREAMING, learning to ride bikes. Dogs hurtling into the water after airborne branches, litter, life rings discarded in the water - and more importantly a severe lack of approachable wildlife.

At 25 I guess I shouldn't be a miserable old b*s*a*d but its hard when dotted around both sites are numerous Info Boards relating to the fact its a wildlife reserve! And people go out of there way to ignore it. Now Im all for encouraging youngsters & those less fortunate than me to live in the open air, to be involved and see what's on offer but for people to show a complete disregard for there surroundings and let their animals run riot and their children to scream a shout like hooligans really gets my back up! Not that the last 2 paragraphs gave you that impression! So photographing anything of interest this week was increasingly difficult, in-fact even spotting birds became a problem with constant disruptions.

So as mentioned yesterday lunch time I headed too Anton Lakes, just about managing to find a parking space. Seeing nothing over the first 300 yards of my walk, the briar patches and alder trees usual full with something to look at. First sighting Tufted Duck on the lake, plenty of Black-headed Gull and a isolated Herring Gull sat on the lookout rock, a new entry for my 2012 species list. Plenty of Canada Geese mingled around with the Coots and Mallard. A Grey Heron stood motionless back in the shade of the overhanging channel at the top of the lake, I guess due to the noise and disturbance this was the quietest most sheltered area.
Tufted Duck - Drake
Canada Goose
Grey Heron
The bottom end of the lake was empty, all the usual Tufted Ducks seemingly joining the rest at the far end  under the cover. A few Robin bombed about with a small flock of Chaffinch, through the wooded path on the opposite side of the lake. I did get momentarily excited to see a male Bullfinch sat in the tree before he was scared off by an incoming Great Tit.
As I headed back towards the car, the Pond at the far end of the reserve, it proved a lot quieter and a lot more fruitful as again I caught up with the Bullfinches, joined in the Ash trees by a smallish group of Goldfinch. To many branches in-between to get a decent photo however. A quick scan of the water from the opposing bank. A male Teal and male Shoveler appearing out of nowhere, the latter a new sighting for me in an around home.

When I did reach the pond, it got a little bit more interesting, Loads of Long-tailed Tit flitting about in the hazel branches, a Treecreeper worked its was along the tree in the middle of the water. After a quick flash at the waters edge I spotted a Water Rail, and after a good scan of the overhanging branches on the far side of the water I spotted the Kingfisher.  I guess overall not to bad an hour but, could have been so much better and definitely quieter!
Long-Tailed Tit
Water Rail - Big Fans Of Traditional Pasties!


  1. The ignorance of the average family on their day out astounds me Martin, I get it here too.
    On the plus side water rail and kingfisher were good birds to see :-)

  2. Welcome to the miserable old b*s*a*ds club Martin. I share your every sentiment!
    Sounds like you did well to get what you did though.

  3. "Now Im all for encouraging youngsters & those less fortunate than me to live in the open air" I'm not! If they are less fortunate enough than me that they don't understand there is a time and a place for hooliganism and a lack of respect for wild places then they don't deserve access.

  4. I agree with you on half-term being a bit of a pain for us wildlife-loving 'oldies'! Didn't stop you getting some great shots, though. P.S. - I'm from Hampshire originally myself (Southampton), but have been stuck in Wales for years!

  5. P.P.S. - Any chance you could turn off word verification? Absolute pain trying to read those two words!