Some people may think I may be mad and there may be a grain of truth in this assessment. I have just spent twelve hours this weekend, braving sub-zero temperatures and icy roads, to photograph the wildlife at Tophill Low. Winter is my favourite time of year. I don’t mind the cold, snow and heavy frost. These conditions will often give me some of the best and unique photographic opportunities. I had agreed to meet up with my friends from Amsterdam for a visit to the seal colony at Donna Nook but decided that the trip would have been a little too ‘exciting’, given the road conditions and weather.
Saturday dawned cold and crisp as I arrived at North Marsh just after sunrise. I was greeted by a heavy snow shower which gave the whole reserve a magical feel. The lagoon was frozen over and the surface was a beautiful blue-green colour.
No Kingfisher photographs today; any diving Kingfisher would have ended up with a bent beak. Nevertheless, there was plenty of activity during the day. A stoat ran across the ice, posed for a second like a Meerkat, but was too quick for me. A Common Buzzard made several passes, usually pursued by the local crows. Luckily, I managed to get one sharp image as it flew above the hide…
A Red Fox appeared briefly on the far bank. Later, I was really annoyed with myself when I missed, what would have been a fantastic photograph of a Barn Owl, as it flew past the hide at around 2.00 pm.
I returned to Tophill Low on Sunday, determined to get at least one image of the Owl. It was colder than the day before and now the frozen lake was covered by a beautiful layer of fresh white snow. I watched with amusement as the Pheasants tried to keep upright as they walked across the snow covered surface. Frequent heavy snow showers made photography almost impossible for good periods of the day. A couple of Grey Heron flew over looking for a patch of unfrozen water and I managed to get a couple of ‘flight’ shots despite the heavy snow shower.
I was just about to give up and head home when I spotted a Red Fox on the margins of the lake. I spent the next ten minutes photographing this fantastic creature with it’s red fur contrasting beautifully against the virgin white snow. The ‘click’ of the shutter alerted the fox to my presence, but it did not perceive me as a threat and continued with it’s hunt, it’s nose a few inches above the snow.