The Way I See Things



Unexpected sawbill in the heron area.

I suddenly remembered this morning that in all the hoohah around grandparenting and Christmas, I'd missed having my regular bloods taken. As this can lead to bitterness and recrimination from the rheumatology team I thought I'd better exert myself and get the tests done as soon as possible, and luckily Stratford hospital was able to give me a lunch time appointment. R kindly drove me in because the village is still quite icy and my car's still half buried in snow, and after I'd whisked in and out of the phlebotomy department, we went off to the river for a walk.

We'd just reached the area around the two weirs and Stratford Lock where I always look for herons, when R said "What's that?", gesturing at a green and cream bird on the water. "Goosander," I said. "Male. Wow. I've never seen one here before." "Well now you've seen two," said R. "I assume that's a female?"

He was right, of course. I just hadn't spotted her until he pointed her out, because her colouring is much less flashy than the male's. She does have a gloriously punk hairdo though, which I think more than makes up for her subtle colouration. I really like this shot of her swimming past the frosty foliage on the bank, though I could have done without all the soap scum on the water - as could the goosanders, probably, given that they had to dive through the stuff. The entire area smelled like a laundry.

Anyway, this is my favourite of the shots I've processed so far. The extra shows the male in the process of swallowing a sizeable fish he'd caught. Goosanders are fearsome hunters, and for that reason tend to be unpopular with anglers, but I love them, and it was a real treat to see them today.

In other news: the tufted duck count on the Avon is still eleven. But for all that they're probably my favourite duck, they simply couldn't compete today with the unexpected gift of a pair of goosanders.

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