The Thursday groups were given the stark choice, would you like to see lots of different species or do you want to try & and see one species you've never seen before. Rather surprisingly, the vote was to go and see a species they'd never seen before.After the rain stopped and birdsong burst out in the car park we headed north along D Reservoir. We stopped at the feeding station and watched the birds going to and fro. Apparently, a pair of Long-tailed Tits were present when we arrived, but there were plenty of Chaffinches, Coal, Great and Blue Tits, then Maggie spotted something different. It flitted away before we got a decent look at it, but then what looked like a Willow Tit was seen at the top of a hawthorn bush in decent light. However, later what looked like a Marsh Tit was seen snatching seeds from one of the feeders. After 10 minutes we strode on the North Marsh hide.
All records shots (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
As I opened the door, the chap already ensconced explained that an Otter was present, and I signalled everyone else to try & enter the hide noiselessly. Luckily, Richard was one of the first in the hide, and he managed to snatch some pictures of it as it swam along the left hand channel. Most of e time the only thing visible was a few ripples as it swam under water. However, it did pop its head up for a few seconds, and Richard pointed his camera and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, I think David was the only other person to see anything. It may have been the rustle of people's waterproof clothing, that it heard, or it just may have sensed the massive influx of humans into the hide, and it disappeared for good. We waited for another half an hour, but there was very little else to see. A Wren called crossly as did a Dunnock, and Moorhens piped up from time to time, and a Heron was sighted flying in the distance, but that was it.
We carried on and as soon as we emerged from D Woods a female Barn Owl was spotted. We hadn't been watching her long when the male was seen flying nearby. At least one participant had never seen anything other than single Barn Owls previously, so to see a couple was a special day for him. We carried on to Hempholme Meadows where virtually the only bird present was the White-fronted Goose. This was a lifer for nearly every other participant. When we left the hide a male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the top of a tree outside, and remained perched there for everyone to see.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (male)
From the hide overlooking D Reservoir we saw: Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Pochard, Gadwall. One striking feature were the gangs of ducks which seemed to be tightly packed feeding near the swans. Were they simply feeling in the shelter of the more bulky swans? On the way back we failed to see the Redpolls feeding on seed heads near the feeding station.