Water Rail, Ninesprings

Well, the Water Rail is still at Ninesprings, the jewel in South Somerset District Council’s Yeovil Country Park. He was certainly there last year, so the theory is that he’s overwintering here. He likes the shadows of the scrub at the bottom of the stream, just before it enters the lake. Park by the playground, then head into the woods, and just before the wooden bridge, that’s where you’ll find him. The female, slightly smaller than the male, is rather more shy, and darts in and out of cover.

I have seen him wandering along the lakeside path, but mostly he keeps to the cover of the scrub. That’s where all the juicy grubs are, underneath the leaf mold. But he does like hiding behind foliage, and keeping his back to you. Autofocus is a nightmare.

If I had hours to sit and wait, with the big 300mm F4 and a tripod, no doubt I could get better pictures. But that thing is too heavy to carry around, and while Woody and Riley are very good at knowing when I’ve seen a bird, and will poddle around for a while, they won’t wait for ever. So I carry my 55-300mm instead, and hope for good light. It doesn’t seem to matter if you zoom out for a bigger aperture and crop or zoom in and lighten, either way it’s all a bit grainy, and needs quite a bit of post-processing to get anything close to decent.

But then I found a different gap between the branches…

…but needless to say, he now had his back to me. But then he turned, briefly, before heading back into the foliage…

Woody and Riley and I decided that was that, and went to head off for the rest of the walk – but then, finally, he popped out again for another quick snack…

None of these bear any more enlarging of course, but at least he’s still there, and who knows, maybe the two of them will stay long enough this year to produce some young. Watch this space!

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