Sunday, 19 January 2014

Great White Hope

On Friday we met at Hornsea Mere. There were a few newcomers on that day, so I pointed out every bird I could and explained about Friday Unmentionables and their various mongrel strains you sometimes see at places like Hornsea. The same thing was done with Greylag Geese and their farmyard equivalents. WOn the genuine wild side we managed to see Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, and quite a lot of Goldeneye, but the highlight of both sessions was a fly past by a Great White Egret. At first glance this could have been mistaken for a Little Egret, but the yellow bill could be seen plainly on both occasions. In the afternoon if flew to a distant point and landed near a Heron, and we could just about make out that it is slightly larger than the bog-standard Grey Herons we are always encountering. 

Great White Egret
 We tried viewing the mere from another point, and saw more Goldeneyes and quite a few Great Crested Grebes. We shared cars to Wassand Estate. As we opened the car doors our ears were assaulted by the birdsong of several Robins. There was a lot of activity near the feeding station belonging to the little lodge including Great, Blue, and Coal Tits, plus several Chaffinches. In contrast the walk along the long avenue seemed very quiet at first. However, both groups eventually saw several Great Spotted Woodpeckers. This was a first for at least one of the newcomers. The morning group were surprised by the sight of a Peregrine Falcon, and then we saw a male Kestrel and finally a distant male Sparrowhawk. Only one brief view of a silhouetted Jay was glimpsed as it flew from one area of cover to another.
A Pernicious Swan Trying to Look Harmless
There had been a big campaign to cut down many of the trees, and this operation was still under way. The normal path was churned up and extremely muddy, and we decided not to venture as far as the trucks and workers. Small flocks of both Goldfinches and Siskins flew overhead occasionally. On the return journey to the cars both sessions enjoyed even better views of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The sessions were split into 3 discreet sections, but this didn't seem to deter the newcomers, who seemed pleased with the experience and the birds they observed. 

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