Sunday 5th March
Bough Beech reservoir is blown by a westerly that brings unstoppable, grey stacks of white-frosted cloud across the bright sky. The wind strengthens before a sharp storm kills the light and drenches everything. Small dinghies at the far end of the water run for cover and birdwatchers on the narrow causeway to cars. The sun re-emerges, lights the water and warms the wet ground.
The reservoir water level is high and the woodlands half-drowned. Small numbers of tufted duck, pochard and a sleeping great crested grebe drift in the corner of the small north lake; under the trees on the reservoir side, pairs of shoveler and wigeon forage in and out of the tangle of branches. All are in pristine spring plumage; the wigeon regularly whistle.
One drowning, downpour leaves the causeway empty, a pair each of crows and magpies rush in to pick up spilt grain left for spoilt ducks, hurriedly shaking feathers, walking and bouncing across the small road to raid the horde; a rainy comic caper.
After the storm, a perfect rainbow stands steady above the leafless oaks, bright against the deep grey cloud.
A siege of grey herons takes flight, hugging the trees before drifting up in formation, and hanging over the heronry before wiffling down to old nests and high perches. There is constant activity in and out of the ancient oakwood; some carry long twigs in their beaks and nest building or repairing appears to be in full swing.
A pair of buzzards circle and mew briefly before escaping the next deluge; a male sparrowhawk circles rapidly over the empty sky across water then woodland and away. More clouds threaten, denser and more interminable than before and see off all comers.