Thursday, 25 April 2013

In Neeker Breeker Country

On Thursday we should have been at an exposed location near the coast, but because of the unsettled forecast we went somewhere with plenty of hides instead. There was the sounds of the noisy chattering of Tree Sparrows from the car park onwards. On the way to the visitor we heard and had brief views of our first 2013 Thursday Sedge Warblers. 

Water Rail - Artistic, or just Blurred?
The first proper sighting was made from the visitor centre when Jean drew our attention to a 'mole' on the bank. This would be amazing in itself, but on checking we were amazed to see great views of a Water Vole. It was chewing on a few grass stems, before checking on several of its burrows, and then eventually it swam across the drain. Then we tried out 1st hide where we saw Gadwall, Shoveler, Little Grebe, while hundreds of Sand Martins and Swallows could be seen feeding just over the reeds. We also saw a Male Marsh Harrier from here.  We were just about to set off from here at lunch time when Pat at reception, spotted our first 2013 Swift.  I think everyone got on to it in time!
Water Vole - enjoying a meal

 Heading Towards the Water
 Taking to the Water
 Leaving a Burrow
 In Mid Stream

Later, we tried Xerox where there was a large group of Black-tailed Godwits, the majority of them being in bright summer plumage. 2 Snipe also came into the open here, and a pair of Avocets flew over on a couple of occasions. There was a single Teal and a pair of Shovelers, but the area was dominated by Black-headed Gulls on the bare island. Marsh Harriers could be seen on the far right, but sightings began to decline.

Collection of Black-tailed Godwits
 Black-tailed Godwits (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Black-tailed Godwits (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Snipe (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Over to Marshland, which was again dominated by Black-headed Gulls, but there was also a pair of Shelducks here, and a pair of Shoveler. A single Snipe was busy stitching very close to the hide. So everyone managed good views of this busy individual. There were 2 pairs of Avocet here too.  Most of the gulls were settled, but a smaller, slighter gull was picking insects gracefully from the waters' surface. It's dark hood came all the way down the back of its neck. It had very dark underwings - it was a Little Gull. I texted the visitor centre, and several photographers came to try & capture its image. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Little Gull after lunch or any of the Avocets. However, Brian spotted a stunning male Yellow Wagtail, which landed on an island for a few few minutes before it abandoned this area.
Avocet (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Avocet (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Little Gull
 Scooping an Insect from the Water Surface
 Little Gull
 Little Gull (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Marsh Harrier (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Marsh Harrier (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
We abandoned the hide and set off to Townend. This was probably the least exciting venue at a first glance, but even here we spotted a Whitethroat moving inland from the river, and we were accompanied by the squealing of a Water Rail. After 30 minutes suddenly a loud ping sounded out, and shortly after 3 orangey Bearded Tits zoomed over the reeds. Unfortunately, not many in the hide were able to spot them before they disappeared into the reeds around the next reedbed. The afternoon crowd were a lot luckier as first a male made a brief appearance, and then 20 minutes later a female came down for a drink, and a short stay halfway up a reed. N however, the highlight here were Water Rails calling from both sides of the hide. Eventually one came out into the open briefly and flew from the right hand reedbed to that on the left. Everyone got to see that. It was Terry's best ever view. A Grasshopper Warbler could be heard reeling in the distance, but t never came close, and was very hard to discern among the ambient sounds. 
Common Toad
 Sedge Warbler
 Record Shot of Female Bearded Tit
 Record Shot of Female Bearded Tit [back view]
 Water Rail
 Water Rail in flight
 Pheasant (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
At Singleton we began to see the Marsh Harriers - again they were nearly all males, but a female did appear briefly too. I thought I heard the reeling of a Grasshopper Warbler on a couple of occasions, but it was difficult to be certain above the noise in the hide. There were plenty of Grey lag Geese to be seen from this hide, plus a few Canada, and 2 Snipe huddled on the bank. Just outside was a frog - quite a bit bigger than yesterday's. After lunch Margaret, not to be outdone by Brian spotted a second Yellow Wagtail.  However, the Bearded Tit and flying Water Rail were definitely the highlights of the afternoon.  

No comments: