Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday 4th February 2012

What a morning! Minus 7 to start with but still three mad men, JA, DK and yours truly, were out and about first thing. The sunrise was pretty special.   

DK checks the main lake as the sun comes up
A Little Egret was perched on the fallen Willow on west Fingers. It is quite unusual for any to be around when it is so light but who can blame them for "staying in bed" when it's this cold. It departed when JA threatened to get his camera out. We checked out the Crescent for any Corn Buntings that were left in the reed bed from the overnight roost but if they were there they weren't moving either. We did have a Reed Bunting and DK had a Water Rail while JA and myself looked the other way! Fingers was frozen over apart from a tiny pool on the east lake that the Mute Swan family was keeping open. A single Redwing was in the top of the Willows by west Fingers.

DK headed off towards the Rough while JA and myself headed along the Navigation Channel which was also frozen over. We spotted four Little Egrets in the Willows at the end of the Spit. Continuing around to  Kramer hide we had even better views of them. A Sparrowhawk flew low across the lake as we watched the Egrets.

Four Little Egrets remained in the roost
and again from Kramer hide
Leaving the hide we met up with DK and put him onto the Egrets before continuing around Fingers. We had nothing of note around Fingers and came back out onto the main path where we met TP. He'd had a Kingfisher at the end of the Canoe Slalom. We mentioned the Little Egrets and then we went our separate ways. We found the Kingfisher at the end of the Canoe Slalom where the water was still ice free. The Canoe Slalom itself resembled an ice rink so there was no Grey Wagtail to be found. We headed around to the main lake hide meeting up with DK again on the way.

DK found a Black-tailed Godwit in amongst the throng of wildfowl on and around the small section of open water out by the island.There were also at least 8 Herring Gulls, of various ages, on the ice. The wildfowl counts were 86 Gadwalls, 45 Tufted Ducks, Pochards 119, Coots c110, 10 Shovelers, 5 Teal and 4 Wigeon. (Thanks to DK for those).

Black-tailed Godwit
Leaving the hide we crossed Press Mead where a Common Buzzard was glimpsed as it glided over the tree tops, with Crow in pursuit. We continued around to the Leat Pool where we had close, but brief, views of a Kingfisher as we crossed the bridge. Next stop was the viewpoint across the river to Fenlake Meadows where we found the Buzzard perched in the top of one of the trees on the far bank. There was little else of note.  

Ice covering the Gt. Ouse

Swirl in the ice caused by the turbulent water as it froze
Along the west side of the main lake, behind the sailing club, there was very little to see until JA spotted a movement at the bottom of the old Priory wall. We waited and were rewarded when a Bank Vole came out of a hole and scurried along the bottom of the wall. It stopped and posed for us before continuing about its business. We thought there may have been a second and possibly a third but none were seen at the same time so it is possible that the same animal had a tunnel along the inside of the wall and kept popping out  every so often.

Bank Vole
 It may have been cold but it turned into a bit of photography morning and the Blackwit was a new species for the recent sightings board. Hope it's a bit warmer tomorrow for the next volunteer task!

Late news:

JA checked out the STW bridge and 100 Acre adding to the list with 4 Little Grebe on the river and the following on 100 Acre:
8 Teal
140+ Wigeon
180+ Greylag Geese + 1 other (Pink Foot?)
2 singing Skylarks

bedsbirds : Garden Birds and an Otter at Priory

bedsbirds : Message: Garden Birds and an Otter at Priory:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guided Walk Sunday 29th January

Before I get to today's guided walk a quick back tract to yesterday. It was a much nicer day with more birds singing throughout the morning. The undoubted highlight for me was a lovely male Goosander which DK spotted flying up river as we scanned Fenlake for the Stonechat. Fortunately for us it turned and headed for the main lake and we caught up with it having hurried around to the Catfish Seat on the west side of the lake. The Goosander was out near the island but heading across to the main lake hide. After a bit of dithering we decided to go back around to the hide for a better view/photo op. Needless to say it was gone by the time we got to the hide but we were treated to good views of a Common Buzzard. There have been a number of sightings of Buzzards over the park in recent weeks but, unusually this one settled in a tree in the Winter Wildfowl Zone and then dropped to the ground, probably worming. 

Common Buzzard
It was a bit of a raptor day actually as we also had 2 Sparrowhawks over Fenlake and a Kestrel in Pressmead. It's unlikely we would have had either Kestrel or the Buzzard had it not been for the "wasted" trip to the hide for the Goosander ("every cloud" as they say).

Now for the Guided Walk this morning. Well the weather had taken a turn for the worse with fog coming down early on making viewing across the main lake next to impossible. Despite this we had a brilliant turnout of 14 people, a mix of regulars and new faces, which was really good to see. The fog always seems to put the birds down and it was very quiet around the park so we concentrated on the wildfowl, when we could see them. We headed down to Fingers and picked out Shoveler, Gadwall and a couple of Tufted Ducks. The resident pair of Great-crested Grebes were engaging in a little display, strengthening their pair bond as we move towards the breeding season. This pair are both starting to show their breeding plumage with much more definition and colour around the head. Many of the birds on the main lake are still drab by contrast. Coots are also starting to break away from the over wintering flock, pairing up and taking territories, with some moving into Fingers and several taking up positions along the north side of the main lake. There is also much more aggression between pairs and groups after a winter of getting along, fights now break out at the drop of a hat and displaying birds face off with each other with wings held high over their backs, looking like little sailing ships.

We walked down stream along the Navigation Channel and I spotted a Kingfisher as it flew from a tree a little down stream. Some of the group missed it but a little further down it flushed from a tree and flew back past us giving good, if brief, views to all.

100 Acre had it's usual Geese but the main group was too distant to determine if the Pinkfoot was in amongst them. We were treated to good views of a Kestrel which was perched up on one of the telegraph pole guy wires.

On the way back to the visitor centre we stopped by the main lake where the fog had lifted but the sailing had started. We still managed to pick out the Pochard on the south side of the lake but the Wigeon which I had seen earlier had either departed or were on the other side of the island.

Those were the highlights, I managed 32 species this morning, most of which we managed to see/hear with the group. There are quite a few common birds missing from the list so with a bit effort and a little more time we could easily have got this number up around the 40 mark.

The full list:
Canada Goose
Black-headed Gull
Great-crested Grebe
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
Mute Swan
Green Woodpecker
Wood Pigeon
Greylag Goose
Grey Heron
Blue Tit
Song Thrush
Common Gull
Great-spotted Woodpecker

 Next guided bird walk is Sunday 26th February. Meet at the Visitor Centre at 9am.