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ePHOTOzine South Wales Group

ePHOTOzine South Wales Group - ePHOTOzine members photograph ducks in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

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The sun bore down with such intensity that it almost melted the soles of our shoes. Could we go on ? would we ever make it back to civilisation? The terrible heat would push us all the very limits of human tolerance but deep in my mind I knew we could do it. We were all seasoned ePHOTOzine members this had to mean something. We had all experienced the rejection of our latest upload we knew what life was all about and nothing was going to stop us from our ultimate goal, yes that elusive duck picture we all knew was out there.

Sometimes in those rare moments when we found shade I thought on those friends we left behind, Mari drinking white wine on her veranda, Alethea still recovering from that long weekend in Amsterdam and Marty who was most likely drinking champagne from a shoe at some posh wedding in Shropshire, how I envied them.

Well now I have got rid of that load of wotsit I can tell you about our day out in Gloucestershire. It was indeed a very warm day unlike some of our past expeditions. The South Wales team met up at around 11:30am on Sunday the 13th of June 2004 for our first visit to Ducksville, I mean Slimbridge.

The team pictured below consisted of Malcom Johns (Maljohns), Gerry Matthews(Maroondah),

Brian13 (Brian Griffiths) DF (Dave (Indiana) Farmer), Kev Lewis (KLewis) and Rob (Legs) Taylor (Bobsy).

Whippetrider Jeff Hall had to leave early and missed being in the shot.

ePHOTOzine South Wales Group

As it was our first visit we took a little time to work out what the definition of a duck was. In the end we settled for anything that looked like a duck was most likely a duck. This did indeed exclude people, geese, swans, moorhens, those birds in the exotic hot house area plus a water vole that lives behind a tin fence in vegegatation 40 feet high. Okay that last bit is a slight exaggeration.

We did see some very rare birds (well not really, I can’t back that up) which are pictured to the right. The Latin Lensicus Prettybiggus more commonly known as the Lesser spotted long legged Robert pictured left and on the right Lensicus Bloodymassivicus known as the Even lesser spotted Maroondah were captured by Dave (Indiana to his close friends) Farmer. ePHOTOzine South Wales Group
The morning session went by without upset until Rob decided to get closer to the action. He knelt down to get a close up of one of Slimbridge’s better known geese the Ney Ney (or is Nay Nay). In the image captured you will see that the bird is clearly put off by the sight of Robs unclothed legs. We suspect the bird was temporarily blinded by the experience and as you can see was forced to turn away from this awful sight. You will be pleased to hear that the bird’s sight did in fact return but the bird will remain in therapy for quite some time. ePHOTOzine South Wales Group

After a break for lunch your intrepid group set off in search of the water vole enclosure. With the heat of the day it was always going to be unlikely that we would see one. As mentioned the tin fence and tall vegetation gives excellent cover and we did not get to see this elusive creature. From there we moved to an area where sightings of Kingfisher are common. We entered the hide and sat quietly. Minutes drifted into hours as we sat patiently waiting for just a glimpse of this beautiful bird.

ePHOTOzine South Wales GroupThe afternoon heat was now at its worst and the hide was filled with the stench of human sweat. Would all this waiting be worth it? Would we see that blue-green blur at it flew toward its nesting place across that crocodile filled lagoon. (Hey just because we didn't see any doesn't mean they don't live there). Just then a bird came into sight, you could almost cut the stillness with a knife (stay with me this is the good bit ) cameras with long lenses moved into position eyes twitched in anticipation, people stopped breathing in case the noise scared it away. Was this the bird we had all come to see. It was at that very moment that Gerry’s mobile phone burst in to a rip roaring version of Waltzing Matilda on its loudest possible setting. Whatever birds were within earshot were quickly flying away from the hide and many did not stop until they hit the Irish coast. Needless to say someone’s head hung in shame for a while (sorry guys).

This event proved to be the end for many and the decision was taken to call it a day. There were some in the group who wanted more and they took to the waterways at Gloucester Dock, we have not heard from them since. We pray they made it home safely.

For anyone daft enough to be reading this article, please understand it is done very tongue in cheek. We had a great day and enjoyed seeing all those wonderful ducks as well as all those non ducks which happen to look like ducks but are in fact something else.

Written by Gerry Matthews (Maroondah) on behalf of the South Wales EPZ Group and of course all those ducks not affiliated with any left or right wing political parties. To those who could not be with us you were missed.

No ducks were harmed in the making of this article.

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