I paid a fourth visit to the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes reserve near Tamworth today. It was a slightly dull day, but quite mild for the time of year, being about 9-10ºc. It was much warmer than it had been over the previous week, and as such, I didn’t need to wrap-up too warmly. I mention this, because on a previous visit to Middleton Lakes (in March of last year), there was thick ice on the lakes and ponds around the reserve, which forced a Water Rail to feed out in the open on frozen ground beneath the bird feeders. On that occasion I was fortunate-enough to be able to capture lots of really clear images of this (usually) very reclusive bird. Not so today, being much milder weather!
At the beginning of the reserve trail at Middleton Lakes, and just beyond the car park, there are good views across to a large Heronry, which is some 150-200 yards away from the path. On today’s visit I could see at least ten Herons, either perched at their nests, or flying around the nearby trees, making quite a racket with their screeching calls! I concluded that Herons must breed early-on in the annual calendar.
Now, I know we get all of these common garden birds in our own garden at home. However, what makes photographing them truly special at this location, is that it is possible to get really close to the birds. Couple that with a variety of excellent perches, with nothing close-to behind them, (which means that it is quite easy to isolate the birds against a totally blurred background in your photos), all makes for potentially perfect bird photography!
I decided not to proceed any further up the path due to the muddy conditions. As I walked back down the path I was thrilled to hear the unmistakable drumming of a Woodpecker drilling its way into the wood of some tree near to where I was passing. I was also treated to a very close encounter with a Robin which I was almost able to coax into feeding from my hand. The bird was clearly tempted, but, sadly for me, resisted my outstretched hand in the end.
This was a shorter visit to Middleton Lakes than my previous ones, but I left very happy with the photographs I had taken. Middleton Lakes is a great reserve, and well worth a visit at any time of year.