Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Don't Stop Messing About

Wednesday was our first visit to a brand new venue. We will definitely be going again as both sessions were blown away with the place, although the better weather may have had something to do with it. The am started well with a Green Woodpecker flying past and a pair of Mute Swans nest building near the entrance gate. While I waited for everyone near the gate Brian & Bruce heard and saw some Snipe & back in the car park a Treecreeper song could be heard. We started by walking along the edge of a lake and when we reached the corner an elusive Sedge Warbler scolded us. On the lake a pair of Great Crested Grebes were indulging in their courtship display, but there wasn't much more to see apart from a Coot and another Mute Swan.

 Buzzard (c) 2013 Tony Robinson
 We carried on walking and soon came across the monotonous chattering of a Reed Warbler song, the 1st ones in 2013 on a Wednesday. A Reed Bunting could also be heard, and a Reed Warbler could just be seen singing at the top of some reeds. We walked through an area of woodland, and as we emerged into am open area a Buzzard passed us just above the tree tops.
 Willow Tit
 Eating a Flying Ant?
We reached a hide from where we could see Pochard, Tufted Duck and a forlorn single drake Wigeon. Avocets were flying in the distance, and we saw our first Common Tern of the year, being mobbed by a Black-headed Gull. There were nearly 10 Swifts passing through, but they didn't stay for very long.  Then outside the left-hand window I could hear the dulcet bubbling tones of a Garden Warbler. We went out for a better view, but it remained in deep cover. It sang for more than 15 minutes continuously, but we only managed views of part of the bird, and some participants didn't manage to see it at all. When we arrived in the afternoon it was still singing, but was still almost completely concealed. I had to get permission to take my group to this site, and I understood that this meant there would be no other groups permitted to visit when we were there. So, it was very disappointing when a minibus hurtled in the car park at a dangerous speed at lunch time, and the occupants occupied one of the hides for a great deal of the afternoon, preventing the pm session from enjoying this part of the site. These permits aren't worth the paper they are written on! 
 Lesser Redpoll (c) 2013 Tony Robinson
We kept on going and eventually came across a singing Willow Tit, whilst its partner made its nasal chay-chay-chay song. Nearby was a female Blackcap, and another bird we couldn't see properly - possibly her partner. We turned a corner to see pair of Buzzards   interacting nearby, and a few minutes later Lynn spotted a Kestrel flying along the same line of trees. 2 male Blackcaps were seen near here on the return journey, and both Reed & Sedge Warblers could be heard singing on either side of us. On the way back from the hide Tony spotted and identified a Redpoll, which was feeding in an alder tree. 
Garden Warbler (c) 2013 Tony Robinson
On the way back Eric our resident Jay-spotter duly obliged, and a couple of Magpies were visible in the same field. The path took us through a conifer plantation where we caught the high-pitched trill of a Goldcrest, and as I type this I can hear the day's 1st Coal Tit and Linnet. The afternoon session was nearing its end when I spotted a Hobby being mobbed by Black-headed Gulls. Once the gulls had moved away the Hobby returned for a few minutes. It appeared to be hunting for smallish insects, possibly flying ants.  
I was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction of both sessions. Of course they appreciated the wildlife, but one participant liked the fact that every time she turned a corner they were confronted with another completely different pleasing vista. Some venues look the same from every angle, but this one was obviously one in a thousand. It will be interesting to see how the other sessions react, and what they say on a day with less favourable weather.
We saw over 51 species at this brand new site for us.

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