Friday, March 12, 2010

The Lodge, Sandy

Today I faced up to the fact that I will never make the grade as a wildlife cameraman. In the back of my mind I’ve always pondered some of the brilliant footage that I would have been able to wow the nation with, having witnessed some amazing wildlife experiences over the years….but today those dreams crashed and burned.

I arrived at the RSPB’s HQ – The Lodge – this morning, and made my way over to Jack’s Pond where, following a sighting reported earlier in the week, I was hoping to repeat some of the brilliant views of Water Shrew that I’ve had there in the past. Water Shrews have alternating bursts of activity and periods of recuperation, so I'd come prepared and brought a book, particularly in light of the fact that Water Shrew activity generally peaks just before dawn. I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the light rain that was falling.

At 11.20am I looked up to see a Water Shrew powering across the centre of the pond....fantastic! I made my way round to a point above a patch of brambles that overhung the water, and into which it had disappeared. Seconds later it made its way over to the other side of the pond, intermittently plunging below the water's surface, and I was able to get a bit of poor video-footage. Over the next 5 minutes or so I followed it as it made its way around the edge of the pond before losing it in the midst of some of the thicker vegetation.

Then, a few minutes later, it suddenly appeared just in front of my feet, and spent the next 10 minutes diving and feeding right in front of me while I was able to get some absolutely brilliant footage on the video camera. After this things went quiet and the Shrew didn’t reappear…a sure sign that it had gone back to its burrow for an hour or two’s kip. So I thought it was safe to view my exciting footage on the video camera screen. I looked down in breathless anticipation….only to discover that I’d forgotten to press the ‘record’ button…….

……you can imagine my frustration! But I don’t want that to take away from a brilliant 20 minutes, and the chalking up of my 18th Bedfordshire mammal species of the year after finding Bank Vole and American Mink in the last week or so, both at Stewartby Lake. If you’re local, and can find the time, it’s well worth popping over to the Lodge and waiting to catch a glimpse of this special creature. There’s another Water Shrew that’s taken up residence in the big ornamental pond in front of the main house, too, and it’s been the star of the show for the staff every lunchtime!

Incidentally, once my son shows me how to download…and then upload videos, I’ll put the little bit of poor footage that I did obtain on here, but don’t hold your breath! (I dropped and wrecked my camera's telephoto lens last week, which has really inhibited my photo capability for this blog...and further underlines my unsuitability to be the BBC's next cameraman supreme!)

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