Chris Grady used to say that Herefordshire was not a good county for photography. I used to doubt him. Now I agree wholeheartedly. It's a great place for nature, but photography is a different matter.
I have joined Herefordshire Nature Trust, and have visited a half dozen of their sites in the last few weeks.Not a one is ideal for photography. I have also been to Wellington Gravel pits and the old landfill site at Stretton Sugwas. Both great for seeing things but not for photography.
Ok I can hear you saying, that can't be right, but unless you have a lot of time and opportunity to put stuff in to place then you are going to struggle.
I have spent more time driving from one place to another than with my camera out. It's not good. Ask yourselves a question. Why has Herefordshire, with all its rural beauty, not got a single RSPB reserve anywhere in it? Does it not seem odd to you that the Forest of Dean has one, Gloucestershire has at least two, but Herefordshire a huge county has none.
That said I have made the best of what I have, and thrown in a trip or two to the Elan Valley and here is what little I have to show for it.
Wheatear. Of which there were only half a dozen.
and Meadow Pipit, of which there were plenty.
Thats it, still a bit early I think. No Ring Ouzel, no Winchat, one solitary Stonechat too far away to photograph, but surprisingly 3 pairs of Curlew. One pair by the farm, another by the rickety bridge, and another on the road to Aberyswyth.
Great news is that the Red Kite are nesting in their old spot. The one was sitting and the other was circling overhead.
A trip to Gilfach as mentioned in my last post revealed no Pied Flycatchers or Redstarts in at that time. But the Dippers were busy up and down the river with nest material, and taking a break in between.
Back in Herefordshire, a Heron at the local pond has been a source of annoyance. Whenever I'm out with the dog, I can get much closer than you would think before it lifts up and sits in the trees, But when I don't have the dog it seems to sense it immediately. It is going to be a work in progress as I am assured that he was around all last summer and that there are ample opportunities to get good shots of him if you are patient.
I have witnessed two amazing things this week, both in Herefordshire, surprisingly. Firstly whilst at Wellington one day and in the little hide I saw a Kingfisher land on one of the small bushes some 60 feet or so away. I watched it, with another chap who was also in the hide, dive into a small pool that the receeding water had left on the sand scrape, and catch a fish or newt I can't be sure. It flew back into the bush and then off into the distance.
Secondly, whilst out walking the dog and approaching a tree where I know Tawny owls have nested before, an owl dropped from the tree to the ground some 50 metres in front of me. I immediately stood still, but then inched a little closer as I could see it was struggling with something in the grass and not aware of me. I was about 30 metres away when it rose up with a vole or similar clutched in it's talons and flew back up to the hole it usually nests in. Absolutely amazing, nature at its best on both occasions.
I've also done some small stuff this week, the best of which you can see in my galleries.
One bit of nature I could have lived without has been visiting my garden regularly this week, driving Roxy, my Westie, to her wits end as she cannot catch it, and me to mine as she sits at the patio doors whining if it is not open.
I think I've said before that I don't dislike rats in the right environment, but my garden is not such a place. Poison it will have to be then.