An osprey intrusion into spring primetime

Looking from the darkened shelter, out across the drying wet meadows, there is clear, striking blue above reflected by the softer blue haze beneath the trees. The branches are no longer bare, with an electric green wash having transformed the wooded valley and hillsides. A robin sings softly from the gorse with flowers now fading and a bee bumbles past in search of fresh blooms. The sheep are out on the low clipped grass amongst the taller and thicker stands of dark rush; the lambs quietly graze at the fresh shoots while the ewes lie lazily in the warming sun. A pied wagtail wanders it erratic way along the ditchside while dangly-legged flies hover above. A crow wafts past as the furthest views take on a liquid state in the growing shimmer of the midday heat.

The spring sounds are all around; not the eruption of the dawn chorus but business of the progressing season at the height of the day. Swallows chat quickly as they chase low across the meadowland floor and a blackbird makes a quick passage between bushes in flight from the searching hawk. Through the edge of trees a willow warbler descends its notes and the chaffinch tumbles its song, both supported by a broader orchestra of avian musicians. Percussion is played by the drumming woodpecker while the distant cuckoo calls out through the wood in the wind. A song thrush adds a tunefulness to the setting whilst its mistle cousin rattles on its flight from stand to stand. Above the hill tops ravens cronk their conversational tones and then float down towards the valley and past on the strengthening breeze.

In the distance, contrails mark out the sky as jets head west towards the sea and ocean beyond. A buzzard pair begin to climb on the up rushing thermals, crying out as they make turn after turn, they suddenly stoop together, grappling and parting, to rise back up again.

The buzzards are joined in their effortless ascent by another pair of wings making use of the lift. It stands out larger than the pair and makes shorter, higher pitched cries as it gains height. Further calls come from the small copse out across the fields; calls of protective alarm and maternal concern. Up in the high nest is a clutch speckled eggs, under the gaze of the rising winged intruder, now gliding up towards the sun and disappearing into the dazzling brightness.

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I’m not the most emotional of osprey observers but even I let out a few gasps last night watching the antics of Blue 2R on the video stream. I was sure she had stood on an egg while clumsily marching around the nest, open-taloned and occasionally aggressive. When I woke this morning, I had to check the live feed before setting out on my way to my favourite wooded valley. Fortunately things seemed to have calmed down somewhat but Blue 2R was still around when I turned up. Soon after I sat myself down in the forward hide, she lifted up from the nest and ascended high up into the sky and eventually disappearing into the glare of the sun. Aran soon returned with a fish and it was hungrily taken by Mrs G – peace restored but for how long?

I spent the first half of my shift out in the hide; oddly over the past five springs I have spent very little time out there but today I made up for it. Under a near cloudless sky, I sat in silence, listening and watching the scenes of spring unfold in front of me, all in surround sound and the most vivid of colours. This little spot has almost no intrusion from manmade sounds with the exception of the occasional car and passing plane, so it’s a perfect spot to really sink yourself into the sights and sounds of springtime.

I love this time of year, when the colours are at their freshest and the wildlife is most active. The green of the trees is indescribably bright and intense, the freshly emerged leaves yet to be dulled by the sun and weather. The bluebells on route were just as bright and the track to protection is painted more blue than I can remember from previous years.

It wasn’t perfect weather though (I’m so hard to please) as the easterly breeze brought a coolness to the day that deceived the views under the strong sun and clear sky. I should however just be grateful that I didn’t have to write another post of how my journey here started off dry and ended up drenched. If my shift next week is as lovely as this one was, I’ll be very happy!

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