The weather was unexpectedly better than predicted and so I rejigged my plans for the day and spontaneously set off for Gloucestershire, with Slimbridge as my prime destination. It was a fabulous drive across country back roads and I lengthened the journey by driving via Sutton Benger, Great Somerfield, Long Newnton, Cherington and Crackstone.
At one point I found myself driving alongside a stretch of canal, and when I saw lock gates and swans I unsurprisingly stopped to investigate. It was the Stroudwater Navigation, currently being restored by Cotswold Canals, and I had pulled up at Pike Bridge. I spent half an hour or so strolling the towpath and taking a look at Dock Lock and Pike Lock before continuing to Slimbridge.
It was warm enough to have lunch outdoors, opposite the pool of spectacular Caribbean flamingos, drink a coffee and read my oldest unread magazine (Uncut, June 2005). The notice board had mentioned sightings of a peregrine and other special birds that day, and I made for the hide at the South Lake where a kingfisher had been seen. I saw some black-tailed godwits but had no idea where any kingfisher might be. I had better luck at the Kingfisher Hide, after having survived a hail storm. It overlooks a South Finger of a Severn tributary and lies opposite a bank with burrows where kingfishers regularly nest. A kingfisher was perched on a branch when I arrived, and I got this picture of it. I used my longest lens at its maximum zoom (the equivalent of 450mm on a 35mm camera) and steadied it against the hide's windowsill, and have had to crop quite severely to present this kingfisher image, the first time I have ever photographed one.
When I got back to the car, there was still time to go on somewhere else, now the days are lengthening, and I was fascinated to see the docks at the mouth of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, just a few miles away at Sharpness. It wasn't what I expected, much quieter and with an air of semi-dereliction, but I much enjoyed having a nose around. I'd parked beside an old swing-bridge on Bridge Road from where I could see both the rusting yards and cranes at the docks and the lazy waters of the canal, with a few moored narrowboats and three great crested grebes bobbing on the canal some way away. There was no traffic on the road, just a few locals jogging or walking their dogs.
As usual, I had immense difficulty choosing a blip, especially as I had three distinct sites to choose from, but photographing the kingfisher was the event of the day, so although it isn't a great piece of art as a photograph, it had to be the one.
Consecutive Blip #080
Stroudwater Navigation At Pike Bridge
Bridge Road Traffic Lights
Canal From Swing Bridge
A Day In Gloucestershire, 21 March 2014 (Flickr set)
Lenses: Pentax 17-70mm, Pentax 55-300mm
Lozarhythm Of The Day:
Tiny Ruins - Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens (2014)
One year ago: Chippenham