10th March 2012: Soon after dawn this morning I crept gingerly past trees festooned with dead, dry and brittle branches, towards the heronry. I knew it was too early in the year to fool the herons. I should have known better. I obviously didn’t, because I still went. I was well-prepared and cloaked in RealTree netting and a facemask, but they heard my approach and took flight before I got anywhere near them. Stepping on a dead branch was what did it. The loud cracking sound of the branch breaking ricocheted off every tree trunk in the area. Fifteen to twenty herons took to the air instantly, leaving me standing stock-still hoping that they would fly a circuit, fail to see me, and return to their nests. No such luck! I don’t know what possessed me to make the trudge through that smelly gnat infested swamp so early in the year. There just weren’t enough leaves on the trees to hide beneath. When, eventually, I could see the heronry, there was a single courageous heron standing on a nest.
I waited for half an hour. The lone heron had flown away a few minutes after my arrival. When the herons didn’t return to their nests, I accepted defeat graciously and made for North Pond with images of two herons and a cormorant in my camera.
I did see a muntjac deer, but this was only partial compensation.
I was thankful for one thing though: I had remembered to put a can of insect repellent in my waistcoat pocket.
I won’t be visiting the heronry again until the end of May/beginning of June: after the chicks have been born….