15 Mar 2015

Eastwell Lake

Eastwell Lake is only a 20 minute walk from my house and is steeped in history too. Both my Granddad and Dad have worked on the farm estate that the lake falls within ownership of. It is a location that I walk the dogs to regularly. But in my lifetime I had never spent more than 30 minutes I would say there. So one sunny afternoon and in ownership of my new longer lens, I (without the dogs) made my way to the lake with the intention of spending several hours there. I was in hope of seeing something special or at least new to me there. 

Upon first arriving, it was clear there was a lot of life about. There was one bird call that immediately stood out as the song that defines its name. Yes, the pretty little Chiff Chaff. I could hear it but not see it at first. Then another small bird appeared above me with also a distinctive feature to identify it. The Blackcap. I had actually seen one on the feeders in my garden once exactly 13 months to the date. To not only see one in its natural environment, but also see it head down to where it was nesting was a special moment. He was constantly heading to the nest area in a Bramble bush just 20ft or so in from the road. I managed to capture it with a mouthful of flies heading to the nest. 

Blackcap with flies for young

Unfortunately this season it will have to nest elsewhere. The farmer has cleared the whole area of scrubland that the Bramble bush was located within. With this, my chance to capture the pair nesting has now gone. I then proceeded head to the bridge that is the main area where families come and feed the Mallards, Swans and Canada Geese. The lake also has a good stock of Tench, which can be seen in warmer months swimming in the shallow water underneath. The lake is in the main 12ft at its deepest part and is fed by a shallow spring that runs in under the bridge of about 1ft deep.

The happy couple

The Water Lilly pads had emerged to the surface now, but not in flower. I wanted to take the opportunity to get a shot of a pair of Mallards moving about amongst them. The Drake happened to comply by having a stretch just when I wanted it. 

Robin with Maggot

After bagging the Mallard shot, a Robin decided to pop up on the road not far from me. It had found a Maggot which I have been lucky to capture with it in the bill. I headed back along the road to the area where the Chiff Chaff and Blackcap were earlier. A Song Thrush appeared in a tree in the area.

Not long after the Chiff Chaff finally made itself seen. "Chiff Chaff Chuff" was the main way I could

identify the bird. It is very similar in markings to the Warbler varieties. They are a pretty bird with a

yellow line above its eye and delicate bill. They have a cheeky "Up to no good" persona too, as seen

in the photo below...

I'm not doing anything!

 I left it alone after a few shots and moved into the Church grounds. Eastwell lake has a derelict

Church next to it which has the grave of Richard Plantagenent within the graveyard. It is a regular

location for photographers. I even have relatives buried there too! It is a typical graveyard, in that it

has Yew, Fir and Conifers within it. This provides perfect habitat for Goldcrest. I had seen a pair

before in one and this trip provided even better than that. Just up above me was a single baby

Goldcrest. I couldn't believe it. They are rare enough to see as it is, but to see and photograph a

baby really made my day.  

                                                                                    Young Goldcrest

After this the weather really turned for the worse. A thunderstorm moved in overhead with

lightening striking within the area. It was Deja Vue for me as years before with friends over

from Germany we would also be caught in a storm. I held it out sheltering in the ruins until it passed

and then when clear made my way home after a pleasurable few hours at the lake. 

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