Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Making a Sure Start

Tuesday was the first morning of the new term. We met just inside the main gates of a large urban park. It was a quiet start with a few Black-headed and Common Gulls. At least one Black-headed Gull was in full summer plumage, with a couple of others 'on the change'. A chap came running out of the parks department compound to inform us there'd be a pair of Jays in the area yesterday. Isn't that always the case? Here, we heard our first birdsong of Robins, Starlings and a Song Thrush. 
All photos (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Black-headed Gull
 Common Gull
 Greylag & Pink-footed Geese
We carried on along the straight road and didn't add that many species until we reached the model ship sailing lake. Here, there was a single Canada Goose, but a small flock of Greylag Geese were accompanied by a smaller goose. On closer examination this turned out to be a Pink-footed Goose!  
Greylag Goose [left] & Pink-footed Goose
 Canada Goose
When we reached the lake we found our first Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, as well as plenty of mongrel Friday Unmentionables. We carried on and at the final island before the bridge we came across out first Pochards, at least 4 drakes with fewer females. On one island was a whole family of Long-tailed Tits accompanied by Great and Blue Tits. While we were watching them June noticed a tiny bird among the ducks. She had spotted a Little Grebe, but it whisked away behind the island before everyone could see it. A single drake Goosander flew over us & Steve saw it landing at the far end of the lake where we had started from! 
Friday Unmentionable
 Drake Tufted Duck
 Drake Pochard
We went back to the main road where we could hear the distant, but sharp 'picking' calls of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were then able to locate it. A few minutes later it flew over us and then past the splash boat and across to the other side of the park.
The main lake held the usual suspects: Black-headed Gulls, Friday Unmentionables & their mongrel broods, Greylag & Canada Geese, a sprinkling of Tufted Ducks, and just a single drake Pochard. We walked past the animal enclosures and reached the lake again. There were 2 discreet small flocks of Tufted Ducks, in both groups was a single female surrounded by at least 4 drakes making their strange bubbling sounds.  
Herring Gull
 Immature Herring Gull
 Record Shot of Great Spotted Woodpecker
As we were leaving the animal enclosures behind us we were able to see a few Goosanders hiding behind the Great Crested Grebes Willow Tree. There was no sign of the latter, but eventually 4 drakes and 4 females came into view. As more of the group walked round the path the Goosanders swam into the open, so everyone got decent views in the dim light.
The rest of the walk round the park only added a Coal Tit and another sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

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