There are few more impressive sights in the natural world than an Osprey diving for a fish. It is impressive enough when you are a couple of hundred metres away, but when a bird hits the water just a few metres in front of you, it is breathtaking. That’s exactly what happened this morning at Horn Mill Trout Farm.
Since his return on Tuesday evening, 03(97) has caught a fish at Horn Mill each morning. It’s not surprising: Lawrence Ball and Jamie Weston have stocked the pond in front of their photographic hide with a large number of 1lb-1.5lb trout; the perfect-sized fish for a hungry Osprey. Knowing that 03 was almost certain to visit again today I joined Lawrence, Geoff Harries and Dave Cole in the hide this morning in the hope that 03 would perform once again.
We were in the hide soon after first light. A Kingfisher soon alighted on a post in front of us and a Grey Wagtail called as it flew over the hide. After an hour the silence was suddenly broken by a call from Jamie over the radio, “He’s over the hide!”. We all looked up, and sure enough, 03 was circling above us! He alighted in a lovely old willow tree that overlooks the pond and began staring intently towards the water, bobbing his head from side to side. From his viewpoint, perhaps 40 feet above the pond, the water must have looked alive with fish.
Eventually, after what seemed liked an eternity – it was actually no more than 15 minutes – he suddenly plummeted towards the water with his wings folded. A huge splash went up as he hit the water, no more than six metres in front of the hide; if anything it was just too close for the assorted cameras that were directed towards him. After a brief struggle he took off with a fish and headed off, out of sight. My heart was racing. It was all over in a flash: but what an adrenalin rush! Dave Cole managed to capture much of the action on video.
From a photography point of view, 03 hadn’t been kind. The fact that he hit the water so close to the hide – rather than in the centre of the pond as he had done on previous mornings – meant that no one managed the perfect photo or video. But that took nothing away from what had been a true privilege; experiencing one of nature’s most amazingly-adapted hunters at such close quarters. Two photos taken by Lawrence using Geoff’s camera demonstrate the potential for some truly amazing photos at the hide.
With 03 visiting the pond on a daily basis, now is the perfect time to book a place in the hide. The hide will be open each morning from Monday and you can book your place on the River Gwash Trout Farm website. A morning session costs £60 and must be booked in advance. In my opinion it is worth every penny.