Environment Magazine

Chattering Masses

Posted on the 12 June 2017 by Ashley Crombet-Beolens @Fromanurbanlake
Chattering Masses - Konik Pony
Some days striking moments pull you in and just grab your attention, holding you in their hand, absorbed within the joyous occasion, as they unfold around you. Today while walking the Floodplain Forest I was blessed to have two such moments, one of chattering masses the other stamping hooves and shaking manes.

Chattering Masses


After wandering through much of the reserve without really seeing much, the first two hides having a few Tufted Duck and a Little Egret as the only birds, I was crossing the iron bridge heading towards the Viaduct hide, when I was suddenly surrounded by a mass of hirundines as they darted and swooped low over my head. Racing, with grace, they grabbed the swarm of flies that must be filling the air.
Screeches of Common Swift, chocolate brown, and scimitar shaped, mingled with the chattering of small, fawn coloured, Sand Martin and the odd flash of deep, almost black, electric blue of House Martin. Standing in rapt attention I just enjoyed the moment for 10-15 minutes, eventually I began aiming my camera skyward, trying to capture one of these masters of the sky as they whizzed passed me.

Common Swift

Common Swift


House Martin

House Martin


You can hopefully see the striking blue of this House Martin

You can hopefully see the striking blue of this House Martin


Another House Martin

Another House Martin


The mass of birds almost followed me to the hide, in fact one Sand Martin had beaten me there, and dashed out of the door as I approached. Settling down on one of the wooden benches I spent far longer than usual watching as Sand and House Martin swooped low over the water, deftly dipping their beak into the murky waters for a cooling drink.

House Martin over water

House Martin over water


From the Viaduct hide window I relaxed and watched a lone Little Ringed Plover, standing, still as a statue, mere feet from the open windows, a pair of Oystercatcher flashed in, their shrill, piping, alarming calls startling in their eeriness. The usual Pied Wagtails stopped by briefly working their way through the rough stony ground, and were joined briefly by a couple of young Grey Wagtails.  

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher


Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover


Young Grey Plover

Young Grey Plover


Young Grey Plover

Young Grey Plover


As I was leaving the hide I spotted a Sand Martin attempted to fly straight into me, banking away at the last moment, but resting on the handrails to the hide instead.

Sand Martin resting on handrail

Sand Martin resting on handrail


Ready to fly - Sand Martin

Ready to fly - Sand Martin


Stamping Hooves and Shaking Manes


There had been one glaring omission from my walk so far, I had not seen hide nor hair of the Konik Ponies, assuming this meant they were somewhere in the one corner I had not explored today, I headed over passed the Aqueduct hide and off towards the river.
Crossing the, flood proofed, bridge I was suddenly in amongst some real weeds, shoulder high thistles lined the path, the purple flowers buzzing with various bumble bees, wasps and hoverflies, the off electric blue damselfly darted in and out of the spiky green plants, while Small Tortoiseshell butterflies gently fluttered above.

Bee on Thistle

Bee on Thistle


As I rounded the final corner, puzzled to have not seen the horses, I was stopped in my tracks, literally, as my path to the gate was blocked by one of the gray beauties. Standing blocking the path I waited, hoping I would soon be able to pass, but enjoying the view of the 4 ponies as they browsed the tall weeds.

Blocking the path

Blocking the path


Konik Pony

Konik Pony


My presence did not go un-noticed though and one of the dark maned stallions decided I was too close for comfort and began to huff and whinny at me, stamping his large hoofed foot in a mark of defiance. I took his hint and backed away to a safer distance to continue to watch.

Seeing me off

Seeing me off


Getting Feisty - Konik Pony

Getting Feisty - Konik Pony


It wasn't long until the ponies began to head my way once more, and as I backed away they began to follow me, along the path, I am sure this was a friendly move, but took precautions and was soon behind a gate, I have one rule, any animal that is larger than I am is one I should respect. So I took the hint and headed off home leaving them in peace.

Protection

Protection


On the move - Konik Pony

On the move


I should say I am sure I was in no real threat, but it always pays to be safe around large animals you are not familiar with.

Some Experimental Photos


Along side my moment with the martins, I took a few photographs that, while they were in themselves not that impressive, I got a little experimental with the cropping and thought it worth sharing them here.

Hopefully this shows the speed of the Sand Martin

Hopefully this shows the speed of the Sand Martin


two House Martin

two House Martin


Green Woodpecker in Flight

Green Woodpecker in Flight


Female Tufted Duck in Flight

Female Tufted Duck in Flight


Other Photos

And here are the remaining photos from today's walk.

Wood Pigeon

Wood Pigeon


Female Tufted Duck

Female Tufted Duck


Tufted Duck Pair

Tufted Duck Pair


Ducklings

Ducklings


Male Pheasant

Male Pheasant


Common Tern

Common Tern


Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover


Konik Ponies

Konik Ponies


Browsing the weeds

Browsing the weeds


Guarding the path

Guarding the path


Looking for food

Looking for food


Follow the leader

Follow the leader


Moving Forward

Moving Forward


Elegance

Elegance


I'm Walking 2500 miles in 2017 to raise money for Birding For All - Read about it here - Please consider donating through My Donate
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