The Way I See Things



This benighted island still has two things to offer seasonal migrants from Scandinavia and Iceland: relatively equable winter weather, and a tanking pound. Conventional wisdom would have you believe that it's the climate that brought the first eight tufted ducks of the season to Stratford over the weekend, but I'm not sure you can discount the financial situation: as the free market ideologues who are currently running the asylum gaily push what's left of the economy off a cliff, the buying power of their krona is increasing by the hour. Is it just me, or does this guy look a little smug?

And - breathe....

So anyway. Stepping away from my fear and fury, I spent nearly two hours enjoyably communing with the tufties this afternoon, on my second visit of the day to Stratford. When R and I went in this morning to run errands and eat cake, I'd looked at the weather, which was pretty equinoctial, and decided not to take a camera on the grounds that there weren't likely to be any dragons about. It was only as we approached the river on our way back to the car that I remembered we were now in the dragon/duck transition zone, and no sooner had I mentioned this to R than we spotted a little flock of eight, hanging out together in a tight group in the middle of the river, as they tend to do when they first arrive.

Luckily I was able to come up with some further (and only semi-spurious) errands to justify making a return trip, after R had driven me home and I'd changed into winter weight trousers and collected my camera gear. Once back in Stratford I made a bee-line for the theatre, which was the closest spot to where we'd seen the flock an hour earlier - only to discover, of course, that they'd now moved over to the other side of the river. Having yomped across the Old Tramway Bridge, I spent about an hour watching and photographing them from the south bank - and chatting briefly with Mr and Mrs steven g, after Steve recognised the mad woman kneeling on the river bank, and came over to say hello. Shortly afterwards the tufties swam back over to the theatre, and I scuttled back over the bridge, meeting up with them again at the boating pontoon off the Bancroft wharf for a second photo session.

The sun is still a little high and strong for really good tufted duck photos - low winter sunshine is the ideal light for bringing out the iridescence in their plumage - and the water was choppier today than I really like, but given that, and the fact that newly-arrived migrant ducks tend to be camera-shy, I'm reasonably happy with this image. It's too early to tell if this group will stay (though the chances are fair because I saw them catch a good number of water snails today), but if they do I hope to get the chance to take some closer and cleaner portraits before the end of the season.

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