Wilden Marsh keeps delivering for me; it is forever-changing. Even in the depth of winter, when the colours are nought but muted greens and browns, it keeps pulling me in.
I spent a cold hour watching my eldest grandson (8 years old) playing football in a local league this morning; it was his turn as team captain, and they won the match 3 nil. After lunch I grabbed my binoculars and drove the quarter-mile down Wilden Lane, to do a quick check on the cattle in Top Field. During the quarter-mile run I decided to go to the south marsh first to do a mini riverbank binocular survey, since I didn’t have any cameras with me – if I have cameras with me, I inevitably end up searching for photo opportunities. The weather was dank and the visibility was good. I used my iPhone to record a video of the South Riverside Pasture for my records.
I mooched around the South Riverside Pasture for a couple of hours. I checked along the Central Drainage Ditch and worked my way to the Tenant Farmer’s Field, turned around and walked back along the riverbank. I looked into as many nooks and crannies as possible. I didn’t find any evidence of field, Bank or water voles. I saw two kingfishers, goosanders, a gaggle of Canada geese, and a gulp of half a dozen cormorants perched in a row on a power line.
The herons are beginning to stand vigil on their heronry nests, waiting for the start of their breeding season in February.
I searched the riverbank mud, with bent back and head down. I crept around a large alder tree. Directly below my head was a very low thick branch stretching out inches above the water. In an instant, a frantic splashing below the alder branch startled me. I saw the tail of a large otter as it dived and made its way underwater to the opposite riverbank; it climbed smartly out of the river and disappeared into the bank.