Country diary: The empty lake proved to be anything but | Wildlife

Country Diary: Discovering the Hidden Wildlife of the Seemingly Deserted Lake

As I gently open the shutters of my hidden spot, a scene unfolds before me that many would call a pond, but here, it feels like a lake. The reserve is mine alone today, and I take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the landscape mirrored perfectly on the water’s calm surface.

Every month, I join thousands of volunteers in conducting bird surveys for the British Trust for Ornithology. Today, at first glance, seems to be a letdown. For five minutes, not a single bird graces the lake, leaving me contemplating my next move. However, something inside urges me to stay a bit longer.

Suddenly, the distinctive sound of a coot breaks the silence, signaling its exit from a secluded part of the lake. Shortly after, two moorhens make their appearance, foraging on the opposite bank. Time passes, and a female mallard, followed by a head-bobbing male, signals the onset of spring.

Lowering my binoculars, I’m surprised to see a tufted duck close by, as if it appeared out of nowhere. The number of mallards has grown to nine, and they are soon joined by two male teals, gliding across the water. This movement draws my attention to a pair of little grebes, diving in the shallows.

It then dawns on me that two herons have been in plain sight all this time, perched in a tree by the bank. The group of mallards has now reached eleven, and among them is a female wigeon, a bird I’ve never before seen at this site.

A sudden movement catches my eye as a sparrowhawk dives into the woods, causing a flurry of woodpigeons to scatter. Amidst the commotion, a cormorant lands awkwardly before clumsily climbing a half-submerged tree trunk. Above, a treecreeper’s call is a gentle reminder of the virtue of patience in our bustling world.

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