by Simon Knight
For me, the past few days in the park have been very special. Not only has it brought me joy through wonderful wildlife sightings, I have also seen how happy the park makes other people, which proves on so many levels that the park is hugely important and worth every effort spent protecting it.
I have had some early starts, being in the park at sunrise, which really is the best time to enjoy it. The morning sun paints the fields in gold, as countless buttercups reflect that rich golden-hour light. What a time to be there, it’s simply stunning. I had decided upon an early start to try to capture some shots of the great spotted woodpecker nest that Ian Bushell had pointed out to me during our working party on Wednesday. I was hoping that the nest area in the tree would be bathed in golden light. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. By the time the sun had lit the area, the light was quite harsh. But I still managed to get a nice shot, so I was very happy.
The session that provided the woodpecker picture lasted from 5:30am to 8am, and during that time a few people stopped to ask me what I was looking for. It was great to be able to point the nest out to people and see their reaction as the soon-to-fledge chick poked its head out. The most excited was Cheryl. I met Cheryl a few weeks ago when she was walking her dog in Sleeper Field. Whilst we were watching the woodpeckers, she told me that shortly after I left Sleeper Field that morning a few weeks ago, she had seen a tawny owl in the field. She even got a picture of it! I’m so jealous! And this is one of the many reasons that the park is important. It makes people interested in and excited about wildlife. Cheryl admits she has a lot to learn about wildlife, but the great thing is that the park is there to teach her.
This hot spell is bringing out the insects. I photographed this female broad-bodied chaser in the hedgerow of Kestrel Field, just above the pond. They are rather large, so keep your eyes peeled and you may be lucky enough to spot one. Amongst other species, I am currently on a mission to photograph young grasshoppers. I had never seen one until a couple of days ago and it’s hardly surprising because they are tiny! I have only found two so far and they were only 5 to 10mm long – very hard to spot unless they move. I don’t have a picture yet, but I am working on it and with a bit of luck, I will have something to show in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the park in the sun!