If I thought the previous day had gone badly, with a terrible drive down to Exmoor and then a climb to the very top of Cheddar Gorge, the next didn’t look too hopeful either. Although I did get a successful image from Porlock Weir mid-morning, I didn’t realise it at the time. Outside it is always difficult to see the screen and in strong light I can’t detect the “blinkies”, areas that are blocked or blown. I pressed on to the pretty little Robber’s Bridge, only the TomTom started messing about again. Having taken me off the main coastal road, we turned down a narrow little lane which twisted and turned between dry stone walls. I like this sort of driving and I had plenty to watch as there were literally hundreds of pheasants running through the fields and woods. I turned another corner to find one poor bird hadn’t made it across the road in time and its gold and magenta feathers were now fluttering in the gentle breeze.
Then I realised that the dead pheasant wasn’t alone and there was an enormous bird of prey trying to drag it away. For once I reacted instantly and pulled the car into a passing space and turned off the engine. The huge bird took to the trees, but I stayed for twenty minutes or so hoping he would come back. Unfortunately he never did and I was left feeling a bit stupid, as every car that drove past in that time slowed down to see me with my window open and the camera trained on the road kill.
Eventually I gave up and pushed on for what I believed to be just a short drive to the bridge. I passed a small parking area and then turned sharp left over a narrow hump in the road. Hang on a minute! That WAS the bridge and now the TomTom was telling me to turn around. By the sound of it my destination was a couple of miles back up the lane, but I knew this was the place. I turned round anyway and parked up, before grabbing my rucksack and tripod. The fog from Porlock had cleared and it was turning into a warm and sticky afternoon. I don’t like taking photographs in bright sunshine, but on these trips I have no choice. Walking back over the bridge, I ducked under some trees and set up by the side of the little river. It was a very pretty scene, but there was too much contrast and I haven’t kept any of the images. I don’t mind too much as I accept this as the price I pay for better conditions at dawn and dusk. It just means many longs hours to fill during the day.
My next port of call was Braunton Burrows and I arrived mid-afternoon. It was still hot and bright, but I decided to explore the narrow canal that runs along the top. I had seen pictures of an interesting round building in a nearby field, but I doubted it would look good at this time of day. I wasn’t wrong. Then I spotted a family of swans only a hundred yards further up, but the next problem was parking. I seemed to be on a narrow access road with just the occasional passing place. I clearly couldn’t park in those and I had to make more than one attempt (well, three actually) before I found a verge just wide enough to stop.
I walked back and thankfully the swans were still there. I think they had been expecting me. There were two adults and five almost fully grown youngsters. It wasn’t easy getting a photograph of them all together and with the sun not creating flare on the water. In the end I only took the one and this is it. You can even see our car parked off in the distance. As I walked back a large heron flew up from some nearby cover and I watched until it disappeared over the dunes. This really had been the most wonderful day for bird life.