Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday 20th December - Wow!

What a morning we had in the park. Wandered around with DK and we had 6 Little Egrets in the roost and 3 Corn Buntings leaving the Crescent reed bed roost. The usual selection of winter ducks, mostly on the main lake but a few on Fingers along with a Little Grebe and a Kingfisher.

Along the cycle track between the STW entrance and Meadow Lane we found a couple of Chiffchaffs and along Meadow Lane there were another six including one with an interesting call:

All the Chiffchaffs appeared similar in appearance and there were a couple calling with a normal Collybita type call. They were all very mobile, in fact the interesting bird was first heard along the cycle track by the STW and was seen to fly off towards Meadow Lane where we relocated it on the left side just short of the house and garden on the right. It was associating with 2 other Chiffies and I think they all ended up moving off into the newish plantation at the top of the hill.

There was a Common Buzzard sitting in a tree on the far side of the field as we were checking the Chiffies along Meadow Lane.

Now for the wow part of the morning. We continued along the cycle track to the crop fields where ~1000 Golden Plovers and ~300 Lapwings were on the ground along with a few gulls and a single Egyptian Goose. The Golden Plovers and Lapwings were quite restless, getting up and returning to the field in varying numbers. Finally they all got up which was a spectacular site with the sun catching the plumage as they twisted and turned. The Golden Plovers looked like confetti or glitter high in the sky. We headed back along the path with the flocks still high overhead and then DK spotted a Peregrine coming in low from north and next thing we knew it was locked onto a Lapwing and a dog fight ensued with the Lapwing twisting and turning to get away and the Peregrine gaining height and making swooping dives at the Lapwing, missing each time. Amazingly the Lapwing finally managed to loose it's pursuer and the Peregrine headed off west in search of another easier meal. How fantastic was that!!!

We also had a Sparrowhawk along Meadow Lane and a Kestrel was over the Rough in the park, not a bad morning for raptors!

Back in the park and it was time for me to head off to the VC to start work with the rangers. I took the main path and checked Fingers as I was passing, a red headed Goosander was on west Fingers at the north end! Could this morning get any better? The answer to that is yes, I could have chosen NOT to take my camera and big lens in for a service yesterday! Oh well perhaps next week it'll all happen again ;-)

I spent the rest of the day with rangers Jane and Jon taking out more of the fallen Willows adjacent to Kramer hide. Still a bit more to go which we'll hopefully get to during the Christmas holiday period.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saturday 14th December - Chiffchaff hunt

An unusual sight in the park was this Pheasant perched in a tree by the main path near the Steps. It seemed quite happy and did not move as joggers and dog walkers passed underneath. It's not unusual to see Pheasants in the park but I've never seen one here before. 

After last weeks Tristis type Chiffchaff along the cycle track we decided to have another look along there to see if we could find it again and maybe photograph it this time. Unfortunately we did not find that individual although we did have five Chiffchaffs, all seemingly collybita. The calls heard were certainly the collybita type call and the plumage seemed normal enough on all of the individuals. All were found along the track between the sewage works entrance and the corner of Meadow Lane.

The Golden Plovers and Lapwings were again in the crop field by the bypass although only in small numbers, much larger numbers were on the opposite side of the bypass. A passing Sparrowhawk put up the flock at one point. A single Egyptian Goose was still present in the same field.

Golden Plovers and Lapwings
Back in the park we watched this Grey Heron swimming in front of Kramer hide. The new Kingfisher perch was not in use but we watched a Kingfisher in a bush on the opposite bank. Hopefully it will progress to the perch in time.

Grey Heron

Following are a couple of pictures taken when the ringers were in a couple of weeks ago.

Always great to see birds in the hand but especially a couple of crackers like these two!