Thursday, 16 January 2014

Approaching 50

On Wednesday am we covered the south part of the Tophill Low nature reserve. On the way in I spotted a few Fieldfare, while Anthony & Susan mentioned seeing at least 2 Little Egrets. There was quite a lot of birdsong in the light rain, and some Great Spotted Woodpecker activity. The Mistle Thrushes in the compound flew off as soon as they saw us coming. We carried on to O Reservoir from which we could see Tufted ducks, female Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebes. Later, we could hear many whistles of Wigeon coming from there.

Barn Owl
 Long-tailed Tit (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 The pick of the day for small birds were the back-to-back hides. SME now had some water on it & contained at least 3 Shoveler, a single Shelduck, and a drake Teal popped in for a few minutes. The other hide was even better. At first we had an amazingly confiding female Goldcrest, then a whole family of Long-tailed Tits, while we were watching these a Cetti's Warbler gave a few outbursts of song. Later a 2nd Goldcrest joined the other.
Record Shot of Goldcrest (c) 2014 Tony Robinson

We didn't add a lot in the "cafeteria hide", but the hide overlooking Watton Borrow Pits was more successful. There were 2 striking drake Goldeneye, and at least 17 Curlew, 15 of which flew off almost immediately we got there. A few Lapwings flew over, but they didn't land. Other birds here included: Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Cormorants, Heron, Mute Swans and lots of Greylag Geese. We checked the latter very carefully, but couldn't spot any Pink-footed Geese.
 White-fronted Goose

 White-fronted Goose (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
In the afternoon we went North instead. It was very quiet at first, a Siskin flew over near o Reservoir hide, but we couldn't catch sight of it. We visited a hide before D Woods from where we saw Goldeneye, hundreds of Wigeon & Coot, plus a Great Crested Grebe, and more of the usual suspects. There were lots of Tits including a Willow at the feeders, but only a Moorhen at North Marsh. We emerged from D Woods, and almost straight away saw a Barn Owl and then another - one, probably a female, was noticeably darker than the other. The birds were perched in the bushes, but also flew around apparently hunting for food. These were the best views of Barn Owls we've enjoyed for quite some time. 
 Barn Owl (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 Barn Owl - showing wing markings
On the return journey we endured a thin drizzle, which at first curtailed the activity of the Barn Owls. However, once the rain stopped the pair interacted, almost seeming to have a mid-air 'dog-fight'. Two birds flew off along the course of the river north, but only a minute later we saw another hunting in the original position, so there may have been 3 in the area. Some of the participants swear blind that they saw 3 Barn Owls all in the air at the same time, but I can't confirm this for certain. 
In the morning we racked up 42 species, and the afternoon added at least 5 more, so just missed out on seeing 50 species in one day.

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