A cold morning at Llangors Lake.

06th January 2018
I was out just after first light this morning after being confined to barracks during this appalling weather we have had to endure lately. I made my way over to the ‘New’ hide at Llangors Lake and set up in the one corner. I only had a couple of shutters open in the hide because the wind was bitterly cold. It had also started to rain quite heavily and with dull grey skies overhead it was not a pleasant morning at all. I had a small flask of coffee with me and I have to say I was glad of it as the morning went on because I was freezing. There was not much bird life and I began to question myself what I was doing there. Then suddenly I could hear a Kingfisher ‘Peeping’ from in the woods adjacent to the hide, this caught my attention and then I saw her perch on a horizontal branch about forty yards away, she dived into the shallows then immediately flew off and I didn’t see her again. She is probably fishing in the flooded woods to avoid the choppy and partly frozen lake margins. The River Usk has difficult fishing conditions because of the heavy rain that has fallen lately and these are tough times for Kingfishers. This is the best time to see these lovely birds fishing on lakes and canals trying to survive the flooding. I could also see several Wrens foraging down low amongst the reeds and I had seen a Water Rail a couple of times scurrying across a small area of open water, they usually dash from one area of reeds to another when they are in secretive mode, which is more often than not!
I could hear a Cetti's Warbler calling from the reeds, their call is far less distinctive than their explosive song, but with practise it is easy to recognize. I didn’t get excited because this doesn’t mean these awkward skulking birds are going to show, they can be infuriating for a birder because most of the time they just give a fleeting glimpse before they disappear into the base of a reed bed to hide. I now had to huddle down because the temperature had fallen to another chill level and I was forced to close the shutter directly facing the lake as a bitter wind scoured across the reed beds. Then I could see a small bird moving about in the bottom of the reeds and I could see the reeds moving slightly, I thought it was one of the Wrens but as I checked, (you have to check), I could now see it was a Cetti's Warbler. I positioned my lens where I thought the bird might appear, (if you do this then you don’t have to react and search and if you have guessed correctly you might get an extra shot or two). I waited patiently, focussed on a gap in the reeds and then I was rewarded as the Cetti's came out into the open. I fired off a few shots and then it was gone again. These were not great shots, high iso and low shutter speeds because of the dreadful light, but at least I had pinned a Cetti's down, no mean achievement! I waited for another ten minutes or so but it had gone very quiet and I decided to pack up because I was very cold. When I arrived home Susan asked me if I would like some homemade, cream of Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup with warm buttered toast, this was a rhetorical question after the freezing temperatures I had endured in the bird hide!