Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 14, 2011

A Hidden View

Hide view - Blue House Farm. Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

The view from a bird hide on the Essex Wildlife Trust’s Blue House Farm nature reserve.  The reserve is one of grazing marsh, ditches, open water and seawall.  The view was one of low lying, flat, sparsely vegetated land, with water-filled channels running in front of and away from the hide.  It is view that is peaceful, delightfully uncluttered and, on this occasion and from a wildlife watching perspective, decidedly quiet.

But no matter.  It is always a pleasure to be here, just for the openness of the landscape and its always incumbent sense of solitude.  And there were things to be seen.  A family of Mute Swan floated past: adults and smoky grey but near on full grown young.  They paused for a few short while to preen, before drifting out of sight.  Small groups of Linnet and Meadow Pipit intermittently settled to pick among the clumps of rushes and the short grass.  A Yellow Wagtail spent a short time doing the same, for insects on the dampy ground.  Migrant Hawker dragonflies flashed in and out of view, patrolling the stretch of water in front of the hide.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - adult and immature. Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

The swans were away.  The finches and pipits took up and swooped over the hide.  The dragonflies found richer pickings elsewhere.  It was quieter, more still than ever.

Then a tiny fly gets entangled on a web slung across the window frame.  A spider dashes out, deals with it, and is away as quickly as it appeared.  And so the concealed life of the place begins to unfold.  A number of woodpigeons are now ‘grazing’ the cropped tuft, forming waht almost seems more of a herd than a flock.  A small party of Mallard wheel into view, circle round and away again.  A few Rook pass over, and a Herring Gull, while a Small Heath flutters among the longer grass in front of the hide.  A Marsh Harrier comes into view, flying low over the ground, rising with that characteristic, languid flight.  A pair of Green Sandpiper are the first to be spooked by the dark shape in the sky, white rumps flashing a warning to any who would take notice.  Then ducks, hundreds of them.  The first of the Teal and Wigeon that gather in their winter thousands around the Essex Coast, all put to flight by the predator on the wing.  The Harrier’s element of surprise is long gone and only just seems bothered to fain an attempt at capture.

The view from a bird hide.  Peaceful, uncluttered and……well, not so quiet as it first appeared.

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