Loughton After the Deluge

Unlike other parts of the UK we have not had too much of a problem with flooding so far, However during the recent break from the rain we decided to take a look at our local River Roding and see what the local situation was like on the ‘front line’ so to speak.

A bridge over very troubled water

A bridge over very troubled water

As we approached the banks of the Roding it was getting pretty wet underfoot, with quite a lot of surface water lurking beneath the grass.

The roding in flow

The Roding in flow

The water level was almost to the banks and it was really running fast, which was such a big change from the last time we were down here in August.

The Roding

The Roding

In one or two places the flow had spilled over the banks, but thankfully nothing like the devastation in the rest of the country. Of course having said that I ended up flat on my face and covered with sticky brown mud when I slipped in some!

As to wildlife spotted: loads of black headed gulls and jackdaws, some magpies and carrion crows and that was it.

Egrets and Wagtails – River Roding, Essex

Out by the River Roding on Monday evening we spotted a snowy egret. Unfortunately it also spotted us and took to the wing before we could get a snap. This is the first time I have seen one of these visitors to the UK so close to home although I did spot one up in Walton-on-the-Naze in 2009.

Snowy Egret - Walton-on-the-Naze

Snowy Egret – Walton-on-the-Naze (shot in 2009)

While the egret eluded us I did get a snap of a pied wagtail fledgling, which I was quite pleased with as these are normally quite busy little birds who rarely stand still,

Pied Wagtail Fledgeling

Pied Wagtail fledgling

Other birds spotted included: mute swans, Canada geese, mallard, moorhen, coot, great crested grebe, jackdaw, magpie and wood pigeon.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Cafe Rouge

Our local Cafe Rouge has had a facelift.

New front

New front

So it’s out with the old fake Belle Époque styling and red fascia and in with this more minimal grey. If I’m honest I don’t like it. It doesn’t seem quite so French anymore, but the standard of the food has much improved on what it used to be.  I guess you win some and you lose some.

The Peacock Struts its Stuff

The recent good weather and flowering of the Buddleia has attracted some lovely visitors to our garden.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

The Nikon is usually rubbish at close up work so I was dead pleased with this shot of a peacock butterfly from our front garden.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Catching up with the Mandarin Family – Epping Forest

Many of you were enchanted by the mandarin ducklings we met at Earl’s Path Pond  on one of our walks. They are now getting quite grown up,

Mandarin Duckling

Mandarin Duckling

and mum seems content to leave them to it most of the time. I think this

A handsome fellow

A handsome fellow

fellow is a little drake, judging by how his plumage is developing. I think that he will soon have those distinctive sails to impress the lady ducks.

Looking this good takes some effort.

Looking this good takes some effort.

Here’s a photo of dad just to show what the ladies have to look forward to.

Mandarin Duck broadside

Mandarin Duck broadside

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Room for One More on Top – Epping Forest

I know I have been posting a lot of photos of the terrapins at Strawberry Hill Pond lately, but when I saw this yesterday it made me laugh.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Obviously this must be the best place to sun yourself, especially if you have a pal who doesn’t mind you standing on his back. The other two terrapins looked like they were about to launch themselves back into the water and swim over to join them.

Prepare to Launch ....er terrapins, not quite as impressive as Stingray

Prepare to Launch ….er terrapins, not quite as impressive as Stingray maybe

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Epping Forest’s Silent Killer

There is a killer lurking in the rushes at Strawberry Hill Pond

Silent KillerSilent Killer

It’s a grey heron and I have seen him every day this week. Last night I think he was hunting for the fish predating upon the tiny froglets that are starting to emerge from the ponds at last.

Froglet

Froglet

You can just about see one in the picture above, they are very well camouflaged and we did get a bit worried about squashing them underfoot so we left them to it. Of course this seasonal bonanza of tadpoles and froglets explains why these chaps are so well fed.

Terrapin

Terrapin

I caught a flotilla of three of them leaving the rushes at Strawberry Hill on Monday, although they were too widely spaced to get them all into a single frame.

Up periscope

Up periscope

They reminded me a bit of that old newsreel footage of U-Boat wolf packs leaving harbour to hunt for allied shipping. This wasn’t going to end well for some baby frogs. Now I think they must have started emerging on Tuesday because on Monday the heron was fishing at the nearby Earl’s Path Pond.

Hunting heron

Hunting heron

Earl’s Path Pond is quite different to Strawberry Hill, it’s smaller and covered by water lilies.

Water Lilly

Water Lily

The water lilies provide a nice bit of shade for the fish and a great place for herons to stalk them.

Look out below!

Look out below!

Sadly when the heron struck he was off before I could bring the Nikon to bear, but the fish he took (a carp by the look of it) was surprisingly large.

All photos taken by me except for the little froggy snapped by Mab

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Epping Forest – Time for a Squeeeee!

If you thought the baby mandarin ducks that I photographed in Epping Forest were cute, just take a look at these fellows

Baby Bunny

Baby Bunny

There were loads of them out in the forest yesterday evening when Mab and I went for our walk and Mab had her camera ready.

What's this then?

What’s this then?

They are quite confident and you can get quite close to them before they hop it.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Return to Terror(pin) Island

There’s something primordial in the swamp.

Here there be monsters

Here there be monsters

Caught this fellow out hunting in the shallows of Strawberry Hill Pond in Epping Forest.

His friends were all up on the island,

Sunbathers

Sunbathers

catching a few rays in the early afternoon.

Going flat out

Going flat out

As far as I can tell there are three of these creatures in the pond and given their size I don’t think they have any natural predators to worry about.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Watch the Birdie

I have just been out on a secret photographic mission, but before I left the house I spotted this handsome fellow in the garden.

redlion2Now I know I have blogged pictures of magpies before, but I thought this chap was particularly fetching in his evening dress.

redlion3