Saturday, 5 May 2012

Getting Ratty in the Fens

Every year I have a list of animals I would like to photograph that year, an every year boxing Brown Hares, Fox Cubs and Water Voles are top of the list (if anyone knows reliable places for any of these, plese get in touch!).  Yesterday afternoon, WWT Welney tweeted about Water Voles showing on their pond so having been woken up early with sun streaming through the curtain (not something that happens often at the moment), I set off full of hope.

An hour later and I arrived at Welney and after a short wait, saw a Water Vole swimming under the bridge over the pond.  The charcteristic crunching noise soon gave away its location and I was on the bridge looking down on it as it munched its way through some stems.  As the clouds built up and the breeze got colder, frustration was beginning to set in as although the vole was only a couple of metres away, getting a clear shot was virtually impossible as it sat amongst reeds which were constantly blowing.  As thoughts turned to giving up and getting a bacon butty and a cup of tea to warm myself up from the reserve cafe, eventually the vole gave itself up and sat out in the open, completely unafraid of me just above it, well until I nearly dropped my mobile phone on its head!

Photography wasn't the easiest, not only because the vole often chose to stay concealed but the viewing was from a wooden bridge so you are always looking down on the animal and for health and safety purposes, the sides of the bridge have handrails and below that metal rungs which although flexible, do get in the way a bit.  That said, having only ever seen Water Voles on four previous occasions in my life, it really was a fantastic way to spend a few hours and I will no doubt be back for more soon.

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