Monday, 22 February 2010

Ding Dong! Avon Calling.

On saturday I had the pleasure of fishing on the Hampshire Avon in the 7,000 acre Somerley Estate which is owned by Lord Normanton, the 6th Earl of Normanton. This is my favourite stretch of the Avon and I fish it as often as possible, maybe three or four trips a year if i'm lucky. To sit amidst the landscaped grounds of the estate, with Somerley House Stately Home in view, in all it's splendid glory on the opposite bank and the beautiful River Avon gliding silently past, sparkling in the sun makes even a fishless day like saturday an absolute pleasure. The only sounds to be heard are the mewing of the buzzards as they catch the thermals and circle above, the cawing of the large flocks of Rooks and Jackdaws in the big trees in front of the house and the myriad other calls and songs from all the other birds that share this wildlife rich area.

Above is one of six Buzzards, this one a particularly light coloured individual, that all congregated together at mid morning, before the clouds arrived and wheeled above our heads calling continuously. On a couple of occasions two birds locked talons and tumbled through the air before breaking away and rejoining the other four birds. This was an exciting performance which held us spellbound for a few minutes and fishing took a definite back seat.
This male Kestrel was one of a probable pair which visited the trees on the edge of the reedbed behind us, where we also watched Reed Buntings and Wrens and I'm sure I heard a Bearded Tit pinging on a couple of occasions. Although reedbeds dominate the bank where we were fishing, the opposite side is flat green pasture that leads through the grounds to the house and this was full of winter thrushes and wagtails and a little further upstream we watched Little Egrets and Herons fishing in the margins. Presumably they were having more success than us!

On sunday we enjoyed a couple of hours of calm weather slightly upstream on the Avon at Ibsley, another gloriously unspoilt area, before the hailstones arrived. We spent the first hour walking the stretch before settling down and found some more nice birds, including a Green Sandpiper that was feeding along the edge of some remaining floodwater on the opposite bank, a couple of drumming Great spots, a Goldcrest at last! and this Cetti's Warbler (above) which flew to and fro the waters edge where we fished, totally unconcerned by our presence. I know the picture is rubbish but it's the best i've had of a Cetti's so I couldn't leave it out.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
It's much better than any shoy I have of Cetti's Warbler .
No pictures of the fish you caught ?
Too big to get on camera ?
Great Buzzard shot .

Sharon said...

Phil, lovely photos & the place sounds so peaceful & full of wildlife!
In relation to the above comment - I gather you can't take a photo of "the one that got away"!

Phil said...

Oh ye of little faith Greenie! Anything I declared would have been deemed a fisherman's tale!! Thanks for your comments.

Sharon, thanks for your generous words. I have to admit though that it wasn't the ONE that got away but the whole river full!

Steve said...

Better luck at Bewl Phil, fast approaching opening day, I think its on the 21st, Tony and I will be there.
Great site by the way, pictures get better and better