Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Unseen Pond

Some weeks back I had emailed Stewart, you know this one, about Long-eared Owl sites in a given radius around the area I live. Stewart used to live in the same village as I live now and birded and fished the area extensively in his youth (now long gone).
During this email exchange he made reference to an 'unseen pond' called The Abyssinian near one of the sites I was referring to which intrigued me. Little else was said on the subject. A few days later I was having a similar conversation with one of Northumberlands birding Jedi Masters, think Obi Wan without the beard and with a SE Northumberland accent. I dropped the name into the conversation, "Ahhh The Abyssinian" came the reply then a pause "Aye, its there"
the enigmatic response.
By now my imagination was in overdrive, where exactly was this Brigadoon of water bodies and what would I find there, why was so little being said? I was determined to track down the secret of The Abyssinian. I imagined a paradise, a habitat so rich and diverse, shielded from the human eye, protected by the mist and the lie of the land. If there was dancing and whisky all the better although what the wife would make of me disappearing Rip Van Winkle style I dread to think.
So today I decided to go. I knew there was a footpath running east to west but I wasn't sure if you could also access another west to east around Longhirst Flash so I headed that way first. The water in the flash has shot back up and a few Mallard and Grey Heron were all I could see.
Looking through a gap in the hedge at the small corner pool, the water here was high and visible to the field edge and was that a wader, just there, from the hedge out of reach of the camera, see the unedited image below taken at 400mm from the road.

I crept along the south edge protected from view by the willows, a couple of inches of water underfoot, I crouched in the tall vegetation doing my best 'photographer' impression and slowly moved forward till I thought I was close enough to get a reasonable shot. Cropped and sharpened at least you can see the bird in this one.

It was comfortable enough, preening whilst I was there till suddenly it shot off. I looked up and at treetop height coming from the nearby plantation a Common Buzzard.

Not finding a west to east route I drove around and took the heavily overgrown footpath leading west. About 600m in I hit a small stream and couldn't see where the underused path crossed. Some reed mace the only indicator of it's presence, I looked up and down and ahead, there was no pond to be seen, perhaps there was something of the Brigadoon about this pond after all.
Cresting the gentle roll of the field suddenly ahead in the dip, reeds and the unmistakable figure of a crouched fisherman. His presence ensured that my hoped for avian paradise was devoid of bird life except the occasional Swallow doing their best Dambuster impression.
On the positive side the sunshine and semi protection offered by the lie of the land and the banks cut into the field were enough to produce some dragon & damsel activity with large numbers of Common Blue Damselfly and a couple of Blue-tailed Damselfly eclipsed by the three-four Common Darter that held sway from conveniently located rocks and logs around the northern & western edge.
Common Darter, The Abyssinian.

Common Darter, The Abyssinian.
Finally tonight I solved the mystery of the unusual name. Whilst tracking down the grid reference for the dragonfly record I noticed the name of the house a short distance from where I parked the car, you guessed it 'Abyssinia House'.


ST said...

i thought you would know this one.

Sit in the dip of the pond, in spring and you get amazing close views of hares.
The buzzard was over the ACW. last weekend when i was hunting the old pond for dragons.

Stewart said...

Good post Alan, I had a sly laugh about you getting lost! Camera is coming on, the Green Sand and Buzzard are great shots...