Words and picture by Mat Bingham.
I have been working away from home quite a bit recently so I have not been able to get down to the river as often as I would like. Saturday morning looked quite promising, clear skies on Friday night were forecast which would mean at this time of the year a ground frost and hopefully some good light for photography. So I dragged myself out of bed to be down the river at dawn. It turned out to be one of those magical mornings.
I set off along the river towards the locks. Under the railway bridge I encountered a fox taking a drink. We stared at each other across the river for a few seconds before the fox disappeared. It was too dark to take photos but sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment.
Further along the river I stopped and listened for my Kingfishers. I heard both the male and female calling to each other at the nest site confirming they were still in residence.
The sun had finally started to rise so I unpacked my camera and walked further along the river. On the rough grass not far from the locks I found a Barn Owl hunting. I dropped down low in the grass and he circled around hunting for several minutes, seemingly ignoring me. He must have heard the click of the shutter in my camera which would be louder than any Field Vole. After a successful hunt he flew off towards the woods presumably to feed his waiting young. It was perfect hunting conditions for the Barn Owl as there was no wind.
The stillness was then interrupted by a Kingfisher whistling as it flew by in the opposite direction to my pairs nest site. I decided to follow in the direction it had flown. I discovered that this was the young male I wrote about before. He has paired up with another female who I haven’t seen before. The pair are feeding young as they were busy fishing and taking their catch to the nest. The first brood of the year! I’m pleased he has found a mate.
A morning to remember.