Friday, 11 October 2013

Lightning Strikes Twice!

We should have been at Spurn yesterday but 50 mph winds were forecast, so with regret we had to give the coast a miss.  The spectacle and noise of the mass movements of Greylag Geese was the first thing to hit us as we opened our car doors.  On checking the birds I observed 2 noticeably smaller geese with black necks and white faces.  The white wasn't confined to chin straps, but covered a great portion of their faces - these were 2 Barnacle Geese.
Immature male Ring Ouzel taken through a steamed-up kitchen window during a heavy shower
 Greylag Geese
 Barnacle Geese (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Egyptian Goose (c) 2013 Richard Whateley

The Egyptian geese were still present, and it was the first time some of the participants had ever encountered them.  Other species seen included: Pochard, Little & Great Crested Grebes, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mute Swans, and a Black Swan.  A single Chiffchaff was heard calling, and was seen briefly, as it flitted along the hedge near the entrance gate to Carp Lake.

 Little Grebe (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Shoveler (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Gadwall (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Long-tailed Tit (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Pied Wagtail (c) 2013 Richard Whateley

There was a Great Black Backed and a Lesser Black Backed Gull viewable from Crosslands, in addition to more of both grebe species, plus our first Tufted Ducks of the day.

Possibly the most unexpected sighting were the 4 House Martins which we saw after they'd flown over reedbed lake and were heading north in the direction of North Cliffe.  I hope they soon reorientated themselves!  It seemed odd to see them flying into the teeth of a northerly gale!  

We found either a young or female Grey Wagtail in the last of the Dragonfly Ponds, sheltering from the very strong winds.  The 3 Pied Wagtails remained were they were, but on spotting us the more timid Grey wagtail flew high and then away.  A lone Snipe had been flushed from the dragonfly ponds as we arrived, and across the field a single Curlew was seen landing in a distant field.  There were hardly any birds on Reedbed Lake, and we just made it to Turret Hide before the heavens opened.  

Jan was the first to spot a Snipe from Turret hide in a rather concealed location, but it moved to an island in the sun, and everyone was able to observe its extremely long bill and cryptic plumage.

There was no point going to the last hide as thorough conservation work including the removal of small trees was going on, and there were no birds at all on Village Lake as a result.  This explains why the Greylag Geese were swirling around the sly when we first arrived - their usual resting spot was suddenly out of bounds while the conservation work was taking place.

Marsh Tit (c) 2013 Patrick Ferguson
 Marsh Tit (c) 2013 Patrick Ferguson

 Marsh Tit
 Marsh Tit
 Snipe [left] & Teal

In the afternoon the main excitement came when we discovered a single Marsh Tit among a group of Blue & Great Tits.  A Marsh Tit is a site rarity, so we were pleased to brain some photos of it.

However, that excitement paled into insignificance when I got home, as while I was cooking the evening mean and the windows were steaming up, and it was pouring with rain outside I noticed a "very strange" near the upturned dustbin lid.  I dashed for the camera, and then managed to rattle off a few shots in very dark conditions of an immature male Ring Ouzel having a drink.

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