Today was one of those days: after carefully weighing up a number of options, I made a series of what seemed like reasonable decisions, none of which brought the hoped-for results. Of course, I have no way of knowing if any other avenues would have been more productive, but still… it was a frustrating day.
This morning I trailed through some quite annoying traffic down to south-west Gloucestershire, heading for RSPB Nagshead in the Forest of Dean, via Lydney, where a glossy ibis has been reported for the past couple of weeks to be standing doing not very much in a field near the river. I found the field, but no ibis, allegedly because it had been upset by something someone said (though it’s possible that I may have misheard that), and had decamped to a nearby marshy reserve – though it would probably be back, said my informant, in the late afternoon. Having other plans for the late afternoon, I went to the marshy reserve, which, it turned out, was an ideal place for an ibis to sulk without anyone being able to find it. There were some other things there, but nothing worth having gone to Lydney for.
After coffee and cake I went up to Nagshead, where I bumped into a disconsolate chap who said he’d just spent half an hour in one of the hides, and had seen nothing. Not possible, I thought, given that we’re in the middle of a huge forest, so I squelched and slithered down to the hide and spent forty minutes gazing at… largely nothing. My tally was one robin, two great tits, a buzzard on which I couldn’t get a sight line, and this tiny blue streak zooming in and out of a nest box. I amused myself for a while trying to get a half-decent shot of it zooming, and then squelched back to the car and went owling.
Arriving at the owl field at about 4pm, I found most of the usual suspects, and was promptly asked by two people who hadn’t been there on Monday if I was planning on repeating my acrobatic display; to which I replied that I only give free demonstrations on Bank Holidays, and otherwise perform only for large amounts of cash. We all stood around for a while, chatting and having quite a nice time, and assuring some newcomers that this was a perfect owling afternoon, what with it being warm and sunny after several days of rain. Even the farmer had a camera with him: the owls were definitely coming out to play.
The owls didn’t come out to play, even after I topped up my karma points by taking the newbies round to where they could see Grumpy Owl, sitting in his tree looking inscrutable. The cloud cover increased, the wind strengthened, the temperature dropped…. and I started to regret quite seriously having gone out in spring plumage this morning. People began to get a Bad Feeling, and to share their Bad Feeling. But there was still time, of course. And if not, maybe the barn owl would come out instead? And – oh look! – the shrike just regurgitated another pellet! – did you get that?
At quarter to seven I gave up and came home, with a camera full of nothing very special. I’ve only kept about half a dozen shots from the entire day, most of them of the shrike, and as I suspect that we all now probably have shrike fatigue, I’ve chosen the zooming blue tit to represent the day. It looks better full-screen (though not much).