Any Other Business

06 May 2016 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Any Other Business
Grass Snake / Sean Stones

I had a meeting scheduled at our Woods Mill headquarters yesterday. As the weather was so nice it seemed stupid to be holed up inside in a dark office so I suggested we find a bench out on the reserve in the fresh air. We found a nice spot on the edge of the reedbed and started talking business.

Unfortunately, right at that moment a nightingale burst into song and distracted me from the discussion. It only seemed polite that we waited until the bird had stopped before getting back to the topic in hand - but then my first reed warbler of the year started up. I love the endless stuttering chatter of the reed warblers. It's a noise that I'll be hearing all summer but each year that first reed warbler always sounds fresh - what an amazing song. My visitor had to drag me back to our conversation but just as he did a beautiful demoiselle flew past and landed on a reed. It was my first damselfly of the year - so the least I could do was pop over and stare at it for a few minutes. They are indeed beauties, and this one looked like it had just emerged from its exuvia and was taking its first flight. While I was watching the demoiselle I was amazed to see a water rail had snuck out of the reeds and was standing in plain view right in front of me. Water rails are my favourite bird and they are famously elusive and hard to observe. There was no way I was going to lower my binoculars while I had a water rail in full view - so I let the water rail call the shots and I stood there for ten minutes until it skulked back into the reeds.

This was already the most unproductive meeting that I had ever attended - but then a young grass snake appeared in the water on the edge of the reeds and started hunting. Ever since I was a child I have been amazed by grass snakes. C'mon - who wouldn't be amazed with a snake that swims? It was incredible to get great views of it cruising around the water. Soon a crowd of people had joined us - luckily one of them was Sean Stones who took some great photos of the snake.

Grass snake at Woods Mill (photo by Sean Stones)

After staring at the snake for a further 20 minutes it was time to call the meeting to an end as my visitor had to go. On the way back to the car park we hastily squeezed an hours worth of decision making into 5 minutes. That's my kind of meeting.

Thaks to Sam Roberts, Sean Stones and Tim Bullen for his patience.


  • 09 May 2016 09:41:34

    love it, best day of the year so far

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