Tuesday 2 September 2014

Just can't get enough 2nd September 2014

An Indian summer has arrived in Oxfordshire today and spending a sunny, balmy afternoon at Farmoor communing with the two utterly entrancing juvenile Curlew Sandpipers that have been here for the last few days, seemed just the ticket. The gentle southeast wind hardly ruffled the waters of the reservoir and the entire  pale concrete circumference of the reservoir was littered with dozing geese and ducks, like holidaymakers on a beach, somnambulent in the warmth of the sun.

I wandered up the Causeway, gently drifting in mind and body and soon came upon the juvenile Black tailed Godwit, still endlessly picking invertebrates from the exposed mud as the reservoir waters continue to be drained for some unknown purpose. I do hope it stays this way for a while as it will undoubtedly attract other waders to stop, rest and feed. 

The long legs and bill of the godwit give it an elegant demeanour which most tall beings possess, as it busily stalked along the water's edge picking up a morsel and then with a couple of convulsive gulps chucking it further up its bill and then down its throat with scarcely a halt in its ceaseless stalking along the water line in search of the next titbit.

Two or three juvenile Dunlins, brown, almost drab and without the charisma of being rare or unusual, wandered, isolated and busily, further along the shoreline but the Curlew Sandpipers were on their own right at the far end of the Causeway, feeding on a muddy corner, exposed by the dropping water level to form a tiny beach  I went down onto the exposed concrete shelving of the reservoir and sat quietly a few metres above the muddy corner. The Curlew Sandpipers were a little way off to my left slowly, side by side, making their way towards me as they picked and probed the muddy margin. 

Quite unafraid, confident in their security, they came ever onwards until they were opposite me. So close I could see that one was slightly more brightly marked than the other.

Brighter Curlew Sandpiper on the left

The sun reflecting off the water and exposed concrete was warm on my face and arms. I felt at ease, almost lethargic. The Curlew Sandpipers slowed too and then stood quietly, one in the water and one on the sandy mud as if also becoming lazy in the sun. No need to hurry, we were all in a mood of gentle contemplation. They fully fed and content. Me sat quietly in the warm sun relishing the moment and relaxed with no real care in the world.  I closed my eyes and left Farmoor. I was back in Africa, in the heat by the tropical waters of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, a far off memory but only for a brief moment. I opened my eyes again and chided myself for such a romantic fanciful dalliance. This could get out of hand!

Ten maybe fifteen minutes passed as, immobile we each savoured this gentle space of time in our own way. It was quiet and still with just the waves gently lapping on the shore line and the sun twinkling on the blue mirror surface of the reservoir. A time, if ever there was one, for reflection. Just for now the inexorable slide of the season into autumn seemed to be curtailed for this very purpose.

Curlew Sandpiper demonstrating the flexible end to its upper mandible 
I looked away and the spell seemed to break as a Ringed Plover flew in and the Curlew Sandpipers roused by this activity resumed their gentle, persistent feeding, probing for blood worms in the sandy mud as they wandered onwards past me.

I turned my attention to the Ringed Plover which was also a juvenile. So close I could see the sun reflected in its lustrous brown eyes and like the sandpipers seemingly unafraid of my close proximity. 

Ringed Plover with a Dunlin
I put the camera down and just sat enjoying this golden moment that found me sitting so close to these avian world travellers as they spent another day at Farmoor. It will not be long before they head southwards but maybe, just maybe this late summer flourish of settled weather will persuade them to stay for just a few more days and continue to enhance the lives of everyone who comes to see them. 

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