Dear Readers, for the past few days Storm Dudley has been busting through the UK, with 80 mph winds and snow and floods and all the usual shenanigans. And tomorrow (Friday) we are warned to beware of Storm Eunice – the Meteorological Office have issued a most unusual red warning for the Severn Estuary and Wales/the south west of England, meaning danger of loss of life. Even here in cosy old London we have an amber warning, and are being told that the winds could cause flying debris, tumbling trees etc etc. In short we are battening the hatches for the worse storm in thirty years.
But today, between two storms, it’s a precious sunny day, breezy but not alarming, and so a perfect time for a visit to Walthamstow Wetlands, especially as the place will be closed tomorrow because of the storm. A lot of the underbrush has been cut back, opening up views back to the Engine House (as in the photo above). Yet again I got the merest glimpse of what could have been a kingfisher powering away, but what I love most about the Wetlands is the chance to actually see some sky.
The heronry was very busy – apparently there were eighteen birds there, but there were very clear views of these three, two adults and a youngster in the background. Every so often they would lurch into the air and flap around for a bit, causing every crow in the vicinity to fly up and mob them. They seem supremely unbothered by all the nonsense. Hopefully the trees on this small island will soon be full of heronlets (a word I just made up), who look for all the world like baby dinosaurs (which technically they are of course).
In other news there were some pochards. What handsome birds these are, with their livery of copper, grey and black! They have a very close relative called a saddleback duck in North America.
The great crested grebes were about, but not courting as far as I could see.
And while I was taking the ‘artistic’ (ahem) photo of the dead tree and the electricity pylon below, a lady stopped us to tell us that there was a peregrine falcon perched near the top of the ironwork. There then proceeded a long discussion on where exactly it was. Everyone could see it except me, until it flew off of course. So I did see it, but didn’t capture it for you. Sorry peeps!
The gorse is in flower, as it usually is…
and I was much taken with the alder trees. Small birds adore those little cones, and they have catkins at the same time. If I had room in my garden for another tree (which I definitely don’t) it would be an alder.
And look at this magnificent chap! I love those leathery feet, and the frosted colouring on his head and neck.
And most of all, I love those sea-green eyes.
He stood there unperturbed while I faffed around with F-stops and such, the perfect subject. And he was still standing there when we headed home, anxious to get back to somewhere solid with no flying debris before Storm Eunice kicks off. Wish us luck, people! Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of the Great Storm of 1987, when we lost an estimated 15 million trees.