This was actually a re-arranged trip with my Landscape and Restoration ecology class that was originally planned for last October and has been re-arranged/cancelled due to weather several times leading to the odd situation of going on a fieldtrip for a module I have already completed. And got my final grade for I might add (a B+, rather chuffed). Either way it couldn't have been arranged for a better day weather-wise but did mean leaving Leicester rather early if I was to get to the Northampton Marriot for 5.45am! This did however mean a lovely drive through the countryside, spying a Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Muntjac Deer along the way and of course soaking up the lovely dawn light:
The second and third images in this set were taken at Maidwell where I quickly popped in to see if I could sneak a quick Barn Owl but instead came across something better! A quick search produced no Owls so I was leaving the site and came across a Hare that was ambling along the track about 30 yards infront of the car. It began to get a bit nervy and made a move to shoot into an adjacent field of oil-seed rape and as it did so it disturbed a Partridge-like chap from the rape and into the track. Thinking this was a welcome Grey Partridge to end the monotonous run of Red-legged that I'd seen already I raised the bins to my eyes to be greeted with a storming Quail that lingered just long enough to be positively identified before it dived back into the rape field, first one I've ever seen! Shame I couldn't get an image of it but I'm not too bothered really, certainly not as bothered as Golden Oriole who is now Billy-no-mates on my heard but not seen list.
Unfortunately I couldn't linger to see if it re-appeared as time wasn't on my side so on it was to my first ever hot air ballooning trip which turned out to be pretty damn good and certainly worth being up at the crack of dawn for!
|"This isn't what it looked like on the box"|
|Fill her up!|
|Turns out Horses, Sheep, Cows, Pigeons, Geese and Dogs are all scared of hot air balloons|
|Northampton and its famous lift tower|
|Urban Sprawl, innit - an incredible amount of people have a trampoline in their gardens too, it was freaky.|
|Look! A Heron!|
|Tractors - faster than balloons|
|Drifting over the M1 - very surreal!|
|Nether Heyford cricket pitch, we landed pretty much where the shadow of the balloon is.|
After we'd been retrieved by the balloon's ground team and deposited back at the Marriott it was still pretty early in the day and as it was just down the road I dropped into Summerleys nature reserve near Earls Barton. I was only there for about an hour and a half but bagged a nice trio of goodies - drake Garganey, one gorgeous Wood Sandpiper (which I helped two older gals to life tick - they loved it!) and two Little Gull viewed from the screen.
|Here's one, phonescoped for your viewing pleasure|
|And here's the other|