The Jubilee River at Dorney looks the very picture of a quintessential natural English river.
However, the ‘river’ was shaped by man and is barely 20 years old. Correctly speaking, it is a 7-mile long hydraulic channel, designed to relieve flooding risk from the Thames near Maidenhead. Nature has embraced it so quickly, that it effectively looks and acts like a natural tributary of the Thames. It is the largest man-made river in the country, the second largest in Europe, and attracts as much – if not more – wildlife than the nearby section of the Thames: truly an eco-engineering marvel of the modern age.
There is a section where one can walk along boards through overgrown reeds. The view from space shows a nice clear path looping out in the reeds with square viewing platforms:
The current reality is somewhat different from when this satellite photo was taken. The boards are heavily overgrown with weeds and reeds. The stinging nettles have grown to at least 2 foot above my head and stung me several times as I pushed my way through, squashing Deadly Nightshade berries beneath my feet as I walked. In the photo taken from my phone below (at point marked with a red ‘X’ on the map above), the path is actually to the immediate left of the nettles:
But the scratches and stings were worth it to be immersed inside a wetland habitat which allowed me to get closer to a Reed Warbler than I have ever been before:
Whilst slightly obscured, it stayed its ground and made quite a lot of noise a few feet away from me as I took his photograph and then moved on. His home was amidst the reeds seen below left (and at point marked with a red ‘Y’ on the map above):
I also snapped this female Banded Demoiselle amongst the reeds:
On the walk I also managed to get photos of two more bird species to add to my Big Year photo-list:
These photos were all taken last weekend on a scorching English summer day. I then drove to another nearby man-made water-feature: my birding nemesis, Staines Reservoir:
Whilst there, aside from photographing distant ducks which turned out just to be mallards, I managed to capture my 90th species of bird in pixels for the year in the UK:
Whilst my birding year will not break any records, I am quite pleased that in less than 20 birding trips out in the first 7 months of the year, I have photographed 90 species of birds. My target for 100 for the year is within sight.