We set off in the boat and soon again cut off the wide main channel into a narrow twisting one. However, as we travelled along it very quickly became obvious that a different mood had settled across the Delta. It was as if the change in the weather had tripped a large 'off switch' causing all the birds and wildlife to become inactive and quiet. Even the constant chorus from the frogs had fallen silent. It was quite eerie as we slowly chugged along through the silent weed choke channels that seemed devoid of bird life. You get times like this back in UK, when one day will be very quiet for birds even though they are very active on the days preceding and following.
Despite the apparent lack of activity it was inevitable that we would eventually happen upon the ubiquitous Squacco Heron. This bird put on a good show as it went into stalking mode to catch a frog. The bird became almost cat like as it got lower and lower as it approached the unsuspecting amphibian.
After photographing the bird for a while we carried on our journey with the only bird we came across being a solitary Green Sandpiper in the grey gloom
I think when you travel abroad you often go with expectations that it will be continual action with the camera but this is rarely the case. Those who remember my trip to Hungary last year might recall how we sat in a hide with just a single coot bobbing around in front of us for 7 hours. On this occasion those two Squacco Heron had so far saved a very quiet session.
We sailed into a larger channel and tied up along side a vertical soil bank close to a Kingfisher burrow, although despite waiting there for a while there was no evidence of any birds. Not even a passing electric blue flash to raise the hopes that a bird might appear. As we sat there waiting and hoping, a hatch of large cream Mayflies started. It has many years since I have seen this as thousands of these large flies emerge from the water in unison and dance across the surface for their brief few hours life to mate and then expire. This event certainly woke some of the fish up that were greedily sucking in those that had become trapped in the surface film.
We headed off downstream escorted by a swarms of mayflies and where the channel rejoined the main one a few birds were taking advantage of nature's bounty. A merlin, a roller a few common terns were busily snapping up the easy meals but the light was to poor and the sky unattractive shade of grey to make it worthwile to attempt any flight photos. In fact I only took a couple of a Caspian Gull (which is very similar to a Herring Gull except some subtle differences) and a Common Tern that had temporarily alighted on a branch in some debris that had accumulated mid-channel.
Overall the first day on the Delta had been one of two halves with a wonderful start but a slightly disappointing and frustrating end. However, this silence in the grey would all be forgotten the next day as the Delta sprung to life once more and really showed us what an amazing destination this is for the bird photographer. Of course that will be the subject of my next post...