A wildlife warden's encounter
with the unknown...

 

During the early part of the wet summer of 2012, I found myself stranded in an observation hide by heavy rain. My only companion was an RSPB warden who was carrying out a Bearded Tit survey: there being little avian activity, we chatted quietly about our shared love of East Anglia and its wildlife.
I happened to mention my frequent visits to Rendlesham Forest, when a day searching for local woodland species like Hawfinches and Crossbills is usually followed by a night-time vigil along Track 10: he asked what I was hoping to see!
Somewhat reluctantly, I described some of the experiences my friends and I have shared in these pages.
I expected my companion to follow the usual routine of incredulity / ridicule / cheap humour, but I was pleasantly surprised when he countered with a tale of his own!

Some months earlier, the warden had been carrying out a similar wildlife survey at Martham Broad on the north-east corner of Norfolk. I believe he was counting Barn Owls: at any rate, he found himself sitting in a lonely reed bed as night fell. Our hero is quite used to being on his own in the wilds of Broadland after dark, and, by his own admission, is not given to flights of the imagination.


As the warden scanned the reedbeds, a bright orb of light the size of a football rose up some fifty yards in front of him: it was so bright, he had to look at it through half-closed eyelids. The object appeared, in his words, solid and substantial, rather than just a patch of illuminated gas or vapour. The orb moved back and forwards across the reeds as if searching for something, before abruptly rising up and speeding away into the night sky. 'B' informed me that was he was both too surprised and too scared to take a photo, and that it was a while before he could bring himself to continue the survey!