The last several months have been so busy, that the plan for this weekend was to have no plans, and just see where the weekend took us.
Given that Saturday was the last opportunity for wildfowling without a stupidly early alarm clock, I set it for 5.50 (still before 6am but only 40 minutes earlier than a normal weekday), and headed to the marsh.
There’s a pond with tame mallard not far from where we went. Usually you’ll here the occasional quack, but Saturday they were really riled up and did not shut up the entire time. You’d think that maybe that would call in any remaining wild ones, but no, just a lot of noise. That didn’t stop. At one point I did see a marsh harrier circling, and J saw a pair, so that may have been the cause.
We were dog-less on this occasion, which means even more thought and care needs to be taken on location and shot choice. My usual spot has a lot of solid marsh behind it, and the odd creek that would be possible for a human retrieve, so I settled in to listen to the wigeon and teal. And they were making a lot of noise as well.
I didn’t see any ducks flying, but there was a lot of everything else, and it was beautiful. Flocks of wading birds just skimming over the surface of the mud. Lone dunlins, flitting about. Listening to the water creeping in over the mud. There is something so very restful about being in nature, just sitting and watching.
After sunrise, having seen no ducks flying I went for a wander, and they were right where I thought they were – about 60 of them, sitting in the middle of the channel on a mud bank. They saw me and took to the wing, and although I crouched instantly, most of them headed down the channel a couple of hundred yards. A group of 8 turned and circled back round me, but I declined to take a shot as retrieval may have been problematic.
I returned to my spot to watch those that had settled down channel, and some came and went, but no large movement was to happen.
J and I had agreed to call it a day at 8.30 to get back for the rugby, and although we packed up, it was clear that neither one of us really wanted to leave. We stood and chatted, and enjoyed the sun and beautiful light that it gave – the colours of the mud, marsh and sky were all sharp and clear. We eventually forced our footsteps homewards; and while we may have left empty handed, my heart felt full.