The first sunny Sunday of spring

I think many of us in the UK woke to a gloriously sunny morning last Sunday. A few days warm, wet weather and grey skies preceded it, which made the contrast all the more dramatic. I rejected the draw of the duvet and headed out and was immediately aware of the air filled with birdsong, a constant backdrop in all directions and much much louder than I had heard in many a month. The sun was warm on my back as I headed down to the river to spend some time near the possible kingfisher burrows that I had come across over the winter.
Having crept into position I settled myself on the river bank by a bend in the river and by a stand of willows. The river sparkled, highlights reflecting on the gently rippling water. This was a magical hour. Eyes and ears were alert to subtle changes, the mind relaxing to the natural rhythms. A bird flew to the willow, low down, then disappeared. Again it appeared, flitting to a different trunk and showing itself to be a treecreeper. Up the trunk it hopped, rising in my view between twigs and branches on the shadowed side of the tree. After its brief stay it moved off towards the wooded side of the valley.

After an hour the time had come to move and stretch my legs. Retracing my steps back across the field, the blue flowers of Common Field Speedwell Veronica persica stood out from the brown earth, their open flower heads straining towards the sun.
Back on the lane now I descended down into Barwick. As I walked a white shape in a tree caught my eye, way to my left. A quick look with the binoculars confirmed it to be a Little Egret so I decided to stalk in and see if I could get close enough for a good shot. I followed a field edge to the hedge that screened my approach and sneeked slowly closer, using cover as much as possible.
The Egret looked terrific through my new 500mm lens, though it wasn’t the clearest of shots. Eventually the snow white bird lifted from the branch and circled away, no doubt off to seek out some lunch. I decided to do the same.
With the cloud cover remaining broken I planned to await the Barn Owl in the field opposite after working on the veg patch in the back garden for a couple of hours. My plans were thwarted when a chance glance up towards the field as I was finishing off the digging revealed the sight of the owl already  quartering the meadow. A slightly comical mad dash with camera and tripod followed across the ditch, only to see the bird disappear towards the river. Back to the house to grab car keys and I was off in pursuit. A couple of brief sightings followed as did a nice view of a couple brown hares feeding in a field but I will have to wait another to have a crack again at pictures of the barn owl. 
Instead I satisfied myself with testing the new lens again, impressed to see the detail it captured of the crescent moon that had risen high in the later afternoon sky. I’d had a lovely day outside and can look forward to many more as the countryside gears up for its period of springtime frenzy. Can’t wait!

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