The weather forecast for Thurs morning was appalling, so that session was cancelled. However, the afternoon seemed as though it would be brighter, and as a Thurs pm session had already been cancelled earlier in the term the afternoon went ahead at a location with hides - North Cave Wetlands. Friday also looked very unsettled, so those sessions were also transferred to the same location.
We normally walk round this reserve in a clockwise direction to make the most of having the light behind us, so we were able to risk this on the Thurs pm, but with the even more unsettled weather on Friday we decided to go anti-clockwise and move between the hides. The lowering clouds had forced the Swifts and the hirundines down after their prey, so there were plenty of these to see right from the beginning. 2 Reed Warblers could be heard singing briefly from the edge of Carp Lake, but they couldn’t be seen.
On Thursday before the rain came down I found an interesting beetle resting on some Bramble leaves. This has obviously evolved to resemble a wasp, and to deter possible predators with its warning colouration. Unfortunately, the bright start to the afternoon was a chimera, and we were some engulfed in a heavy downpour.
Wasp-Beetle (c) 2012 Margaret Richardson
Little Grebe with chick
Shelduck with Well-grown Young
We eventually reached Turret Hide, where we could dry off for a time, but still watch some of the wildlife from indoors. The most interesting sightings here were a family of Reed warblers being fed against an electric fence, whilst beyond these a pair of Little Grebe chicks were begging for food. A group of 20 Gadwall were gathered in another bay, slowing going into eclipse plumage together. There were some fairly small Shelduck chicks directly under the hide on the northern side, but also a much older family was on one of the islands.
All groups saw the largest gathering of Common Terns we’ve encountered this year from South Hide. One pair had at least 2 chicks, but the other birds seemed to be on eggs. They’ve probably arrived after most of the Black-headed gulls have already raised their chicks & vacated the raft.
Common Terns (& Black-headed Gull)
Female Mallard's Speculum
On Friday morning we risked the long walk round & we marvelled at Reedbed Lake when a Peregrine Falcon attacked the Feral Pigeons. It stooped out of the sky and effortlessly caught a very dark pigeon, which it proceeded to cart away. Most of the birds on the lake took to the sky and the clamour was fantastic, and after a minute or so the Peregrine relinquished its prey, which may have been largely unharmed. The Peregrine flew off north & was lost to sight. Shortly afterwards a heavy shower set in, but everyone agreed that the soaking was worth it, to get such a close view of a Peregrine in action.
Most groups saw the confiding family of 13 ducklings and their mother back at the Wild Bird food wagon.