Saturday 1 August 2015

More Birds Than Fish

Well, it was time to take my wellies back to the Wye. And why not?   It is a long trip, but I
The Wye
determined, this time, to be there as the first light hit the river.  Most of the trip was motorway, and in darkness.   Far too many heavy goods vehicles for my liking, as I remain nervous of them still, after my near-death crash a couple of years ago.   Sometimes, when one travelling at 60 mph passes another moving at 59.9, they can block both inside lanes for minutes.  If I therefore have to pass them both I find it quite unnerving.     Most of the time I sit at 60 mph myself to reduce interaction with the trucks to a minima, but I don't like to be too near the trucks, so occasionally have to pass and find a new space between them.  Eventually I left the final exit ramp, and had only three or four miles still to cover.  As I nearer the river the roads became narrower, eventually becoming a single track, with grass growing down the middle.  Rabbits scattered every few yards as my headlights disturbed them. One of them did not move, but stayed sitting in the middle of the road.  I soon saw that it was no rabbit, but an owl.  It stood in the road, no prey with it, looking at my lights.   After 20 seconds or so it flew up and into a tree above my head, where it stayed...stayed until about a second before I was ready to click the camera shutter.
I am fairly sure it was a tawny own.  Definitely not a barn owl or little owl.

Sand Martins Nesting in  Pipework
I reached the river a couple of minutes later, parked up and headed for the deep swim, hoping to make fresh contact with the lost fish from last week.  I soon had a chub in the net, a fish of something a little under three pounds.  From the angling perspective, all then went silent. The river was even lower than last week, and much clearer too. Not so much as a twitch followed the chub, and I spent a lot of time watching the swallows and sand martins.   The sand martin is, in my opinion, the ultimate, low over the water, flier.    I didn't bother trying to photograph one, but will add a photo I took three or four years ago.

Green Woodpecker: At  100 yards Plus.
The green woodpeckers continued to mock me, several of them were "knocking about", flitting from tree to tree, occasionally hammering at the wood, but always obscured by branches or by a leaf or two.  I nearly flattened the camera battery, hoping to be ready when one finally  posed for me.   None did.   Very late on, one landed on the footbridge, some 150 yards downstream, and just for the hell of it I put the camera on maximum optical zoom and took a couple of shots. Applying maximum digital zoom to the image I could indeed see the red and the green of the bird, but distance and the sheer obstructiveness of the bird meant that this was the very best I could do, the much magnified image being over pixillated..   Another day, another time perhaps.
Female Demoiselle
I did take this photo of a female blue banded demoiselle.  Not a trace of blue on the females. I didn't manage to get a photo of one last week, so as to be able to show the differences between the sexes.

My hope of a fish rose as the evening neared.  A few chub raps started to up the confidence levels a little, but all were too fiddly to strike at...not that I didn't try one or two for luck.  No such.  As the last half hour of legal fishing approached I finally hit a better pull, and was playing a barbel.  A nice enough fish at about seven pounds, and a quick re-cast gave me that extra hope.   The farmer drifted by, and asked if I had caught.  Told him about the barbel, and, remembering him from last week, mentioned my only having 30 minutes of daytime fishing left in which to catch a second.  He replied "Yes, it is already half past nine," and I was left in no doubt that he was actually making damn sure I did not intend to overstay my allotted time.  No more bites, so I packed up and drove, via a chip shop, to another stretch where I would be allowed to night fish.    Got some sleep, intending to fish from mid-day the next day.   Instead I finally decided, on
waking up, to fully check out the stretch by walking along it.   Three other anglers fishing, all convinced that the low water was causing their overnight blanks. I was tempted to agree with them.  Buzzards circled overhead, and an egret vied for my attention as it perched in a tree opposite. The only other bright moment was when three Canadian canoes full of topless young ladies, paddled past on a "hen do". Well, some were paddling, others were knocking the booze back. Although the camera did accidentally click a few times as they passed by, I am sure that you, dear reader, would have no interest in the resultant photos. So here is the egret instead.

Oddball Greylag?
 Nearby, amongst a group of Canada geese, was this odd individual.  I can only guess that it is some form of domesticated greylag goose,  escaped and gone wild.    It is neither one thing nor the other, so maybe there has been some reversion to type in its history.   Seeing the river so low, I decided to cut my losses, I was not expecting to catch much, even during darkness, and so journeyed part way back, determined to fish a tench water, one I have ignored for a couple of years.    The Wye is a fabulous river, and so very clean.  I don't think I saw a single item of human rubbish drift downriver all the time I was there. And the flotsam/jetsam piles of stuff left by floodwater, all seems to be completely natural in its origin: trees, branches, weed.   But sometimes I have to move on, and on this day, it was towards the tench.
Again it was to be more birds than fish. No fish were to dampen my landing net at the lake.  I only saw three fish break surface, one fairly early on, a hundred yards away: a carp.  And then nothing until, during a break in the rain, following a quiet night, I was packing up.  As I dismantled the last of my gear, two fish rose in my swim, right over my baited area, a carp and a tench.  
A Bunch of Proper Greylag Geese
Oh I was so tempted to rig up again, with the only fish showing being over my groundbait.  The lake is large enough for the fish to have easily avoided the area all night. Maybe they had just moved in?  But instead of staying I decided to punish myself for my poor performance on the trip, and go home.   Time by this stillwater was spent watching bats, reed warblers, terns, a group of at least fifty grey lag geese and an oystercatcher.   The sand martins and swallows of the river had been replaced by house martins and swifts. Most of these species will only pose for the cameras of the most highly paid professional photographers.  I tried my best but the results were not really worth the hard work.
The tern photo is also not the greatest, they were so fast and changed direction unpredictably, but as I have little ambition to become another David Bailey, who cares.   I'll keep trying for better photos, but am by no means confident of great success.

1 comment:

  1. More birds than fish? Pity though that you didn't include a shot of those "great tits"!!!