Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Pictures From An Expedition

Not a major expedition to unexplored continents, just a minor excursion on foot along familiar footpaths - except that if you look closely they are different every time. It's an out-and-back journey of about ten miles which I've made many times from my back door to Fowlmere Nature Reserve . I started out in a grey drizzly dawn but things brightened up during the morning, so the cloudy pictures were on the outward leg and the sunnier ones as I made my way home.

Along the River Mel

Here's the River Mel as she approaches the road running through the village. Despite the recent rains the water level remains rather low.

I've shown you this old shed before as I can rarely pass by without taking a picture of it. I recently was told that its original purpose was as a kennel for the Meldreth Otterhounds. The hounds haven't been seen for many decades and neither, sadly, have the otters. They are making a slow and tentative comeback to our rivers though. They are certainly seen at Fowlmere where we'll be going later, though I've never been lucky enough (and perhaps not persistent enough) to see one.

Across the L-Moor

One of the Wildlife Trusts' nature reserves that are dotted around the country. It's not really a moor in the normal sense, but an L-shaped piece of undrained pasture land. It looks as though they've been busy clearing some of the scrub that encroaches occasionally despite the efforts of a flock of Manx Loghtan sheep. In summer there are increasing numbers of orchids growing here.

Fungi are steadily re-cycling the stump of a fallen tree.

By Moor End and Huckle's Lane

This little footbridge leads from the L-Moor to a field-side path which gives unusually far reaching views across this flat landscape.

Flat countryside in grey, flat light is not easy to photograph. This is the best I could do. I think it gives a feeling of what it can be like out here with winter approaching, but with the clouds gradually breaking up.

On the return trip it was considerably less bleak. This little area, stuck out amid fields, was once the site of a handful of houses known as Moor End, which now exist as little more than a rumour, verified only by a brief mention on a few old maps. The name of Huckle's Lane is recorded on those same maps.

Along the River Shep

The most delectable section of the walk is a narrow footpath running right alongside the River Shep. It's another of those tiny rivers in which this area specialises; they have just risen from a line of small springs along the edge of the gentle chalk escarpment and have not yet had time to gather other tributaries to increase their volume.

The waters of these chalk streams is extremely pure, though it won't stay like that unless the flow can be increased to flush out the debris which inevitably accumulates.

Mrs Pheasant was also making her way along the path, just a little too far ahead of me to get a proper portrait showing her attractive brown markings.

Around Fowlmere Reserve

When I get into photography mode I'm sure I miss seeing many birds; similarly when I go out birdwatching with my brother I often fail to take anything apart from the most obvious photos. At this time of year when I visit Fowlmere RSPB reserve I usually become fascinated with the light on the dying grasses.

Sometimes I find something that attracts me in the most mundane subjects. 

There are even tinier streams here threading their way through the tangle of scrub and woodland. Though it feels as if you can see all this small reserve by following the encircling path or ascending the steps of the Reedbed Hide there are still secret places. Last week when I visited a rutting fallow deer could be heard bellowing but seeing him was another matter altogether.

The reedbeds form another sanctuary for birds like Water Rails and even an occasional Bittern. Sometimes in summer Marsh Harriers choose to nest here.

So here I'll leave you and turn to walk the long miles home (always slightly longer than the miles that brought me here!) You'll miss seeing the three dazzlingly white Little Egrets that ascended gracefully from the River Shep and settled in the tree tops during my return journey - yes, I was in "birdwatcher mode" by that time and only saw them through my binoculars.

Take care.


  1. It's interestingly difficult to be in two 'modes' at once, isn't it? Photographer v birdwatcher, even photographer v chatty friend when I'm with a companion. I always take more and better photos when I'm alone and focused (no pun intended). Your pics here give a good feel for these damp Autumn mornings.

  2. Pictures from an exhibition, huh. Gee that might make a good title for a piece of music, doncha think? Your pictures, John, are oft times exquisite, and these selections fall right into that category. You don't just show us an attractive corner of Britain, you somehow manage to capture the very essence of that unique piece of countryside. At times it actually seems to come alive.

  3. You have a good eye for the beautiful things in nature, John.

  4. Especially like the last 4. I like the tension between the dark brown leaves and seed heads of the weed, and the fresh bright green leaves. Also with the cattails the bright green is a great accent. The curvy reflection gives movement to the stream. Interesting colours and shapes in the last one with the tree trunks.

  5. I have so loved this reminds me of my youth...I was forever out and about. I don't know which of these I love the most, but sure enjoyed them all. It is funny, out where we see the pheasant, we seldom see the females. Just occasionally. Even in the spring when the fields are bright green, we seldom see one.

  6. What a fun stroll. Glad you enjoy finding beautiful things to share.

  7. This was a wonderful excursion John. You have lots of leaves left. I always hear the birds as I walk along but rarely manage to find them among the trees.

  8. that was a very pleasant walk and a good commentary to go with it.

  9. And why hasn't some enterprising soul invented a binoculocamera for bird watchers? -- combining binoculars with a camera that enables one to watch birds and photograph at the same time.

  10. It seems that your foliage is still very green in many places, John, in comparison to here in NH where most of our colors are fast going due to wind and recent rains. I liked the look of that old shed and would have taken many shots myself.

  11. Major expeditions can be overrated John, your minor excursion was a delight to walk along with. The old shed is so photogenic, you definitely should snap it everytime you pass it doesn't look like it will last too much longer. Looking forward to seeing that elusive otter when you finally spot it 😉

  12. Another wonderful walk through the woods there. Love seeing the fungi, rivers, trees... all of it beautiful

  13. Your eye is impressive, John--gorgeous, detailed photos of simple things that turn them into startling beauty. Thank you for the walk.

  14. What a wonderful walk through the reserve, you even found dinner on the hoof walking ahead of you. In the photo of the grass it looks like rabbit ears in the foreground

  15. Beautiful photos John, particularly the golden tree. You were lucky to spot Mrs Pheasant, she blends in very well.

  16. What a fantastic expedition through the Reserve. The shed is definitely something I would photograph every time I passed it too. Beautiful composition on the shed.
    Thanks, John for taking us along and sharing your beautiful photos.

  17. I like Mrs Pheasant hiking just ahead of you on the trail. It’s the fungi time of year here, too, and we have been seeing some dramatic presentations, as have you. Lovely ramble.

  18. I have some favorite roads that we travel often and I always find new things to see and photograph, too. Love this expedition a lot :)

    My Corner of the World

  19. Beautiful, I enjoyed your expedition:)

  20. Apart from the odd Kingfisher from one of the hides, sadly I never use to find much at Fowlmere John.


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