Wildlife watching requires patience
by Simon Knight
One of the special features about the park – or any wild place – is that if you go there at the correct time and have the patience to stay still, be quiet and just really look and listen, you will find that there is life all around you.
Often when I enter the park in the morning, the first sign of life is the melodious call of a robin. There are a lot of robins in the park and there are some days when it seems like every time you stop somewhere, there’s a robin watching you. It’s always nice to start the day with a robin, so I’m happy that there is often one to greet me when I first set foot in the park.
Currently birds are busy feeding as they build up energy for egg laying and raising young. It’s quite easy to spot blue tits feeding. They will be foraging around for insects on leaves. If you spot one, don’t chase it, try staying where you are and quite often these colourful birds will make their way past you, sometimes passing by quite closely as they fleet from branch to branch in search of a tiny meal.
There is plenty of willow warbler activity in the park. They are easily mistaken with the chiffchaff and if viewed from a distance, it is only really their call that distinguishes them. Chiffchaffs spend a lot of their time higher up, often singing from the treetops. Conversely, my willow warbler sightings have generally been lower down, often in the hedgerows and brambles. The one pictured here was hunting amongst brambles in Sleeper Field. I had spotted some movement deep in the brambles, and as I was already very close to the brambles, I stood on the spot and waited. My patience was rewarded as the willow warbler hopped from one thorny perch to the next and passed within only a few metres of me.
The encounter with this very cute young rabbit wasn’t so much down to my stalking skills, more a case that the rabbit was somewhat naïve and probably didn’t see me as a threat, not that I was a threat of course. I spotted it on the very edge of the field and was already only around 10 metres from it. I was with my parents and Clive Knight (who had his dog Dillon with him) and the little rabbit just carried on eating the grass. I thought that I would try my luck and get closer, so commando style, I very slowly crawled closer. I must have looked rather odd to the people passing by! It was worth it though, as I was able to get some close shots without stressing the youngster out.
So, if you are out walking looking for wildlife, the key is not to rush. Be patient, be prepared to stand still for a while and look and listen very carefully and you will likely be rewarded.