After the manic morning session with the jackals and eagles, I was feeling in the need for a relatively relaxed afternoon. Another wave of exhaustion had come over me after a very long week of sleep deprivation. I had actually found this trip to Romania much less exhausting than the previous year and more relaxed. On the trip last year, the lack of sleep obviously had an impact on my immune system as I contracted septic tonsillitis as soon I returned to the UK, an illness I have not had since childhood. I think the spluttering person sat next to me on the plane home may have been the source. I think this trip had been more chilled, partly due to it being a repeat visit to the Danube Delta, but also I have tried to take a much more laid back approach to my photography this year. I have grown weary of the degree of ridiculous competitiveness, and the unpleasant undercurrent of deceit that it floats on, which sadly seems to have developed in wildlife photography in recent years. So I made a conscious decision at the start of the year, that I would set out to immerse myself even more with the wildlife and be removed from the pressure of pleasing anyone except myself. It is for this reason I have entered no photography competitions this year and concentrated on spending more time in the company of a few species close to home. It has been refreshing.
Over a pasta lunch we discussed the plans for the afternoon. Rene having seen some of my Bearded Tit photos from the previous day fancied trying to improve on those he had taken when we first arrived. I offered to take him out to try and help.
We picked up on of the electric buggies and headed out in mid afternoon but the light was still too harsh for trying for the acrobatic tits among the reed stems so we decided we would visit one of the hides to pass some time. The one we selected was a small reed clad hide set on the corner of an L-shaped pond which had some posts set in the water in front of it which frequently seemed to be used by terns.
While we were sat that a long thin snake swam across the surface of the channel in front of us before crawling up out on the far bank. After a bit of Google searching we identified it as a Diced Water Snake. Interestingly at home I struggle to get a mobile signal yet everywhere we went in the Danube Delta I seemed to have full mobile and 3G signal!
After a while the sun seemed to be softening down and we decided it was time to go and look for the Bearded Tits. Once again I seemed to find myself photographing Bearded Tits but was more than happy to try and help Rene get some photos and maybe I would get the shot of a male bird I had visioned in my head since arriving. So off we headed down the western track and tried the three places that had been the most productive the previous day. After a bit of effort we managed locate and get some photographs of the birds. Again it was the juveniles that provided most of the camera action.
Rene wanted to head back to the the hotel which brought an end to a relaxed session. As we arrived back at the 'ranch', we bumped into Zoli. He asked if we wanted to see a Penduline Tit nest he had found that afternoon. Rene declined but I was curious to see this odd structure and so found myself heading back along the tracks to a spot a short-distance from the hotel.
The nest was low in a willow tree at the side of pool and proved very awkward to get an angle on for a clear shot of it. The nest is a truly remarkable structure that looks a bit like a small rugby ball made of cotton wool with a small entrance funnel at the top. After watching it for a short while it began to shake a little and the bandit masked face of the tiny Penduline tit appeared in the entrance.