Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend

With a storm on the way for later in the weekend and the Good Friday forecast looking good it was an early start on Friday to try to make the most of the good light. With 100 Acre still under water it was back to the Spit for another go with the pair of Great Crested Grebes on the Finger Lakes. Without a hide there is a lot more waiting involved for the birds to get used to my being there and, even then, they are still not approaching as close as I would like. Anyhow here are a some shots from the session which mostly turned into a Coot session!


Coot feeding

Great Crested Grebe
The Grebes didn't spend much time in front of me, in fact the female seemed very interested mating but the male looked less than interested, you might even say confused by the whole thing. They have built a platform from weed and reeds and the female kept posturing and laying down on the platform but the male refused to mount her and in the end she gave up. Hopefully the male will get the message and we'll have a nest and some eggs in the not too distant future.

The spot I am using for the photography is right on the border between 2 Coot territories and is a regular feeding area for one of the pairs so there was more opportunity to photograph the Coots. Unfortunately the territorial disputes were all too far away for any decent shots.

Saturday was grey and windy but did remain dry as forecast so I had a wander around the park with DK. We had all the usual stuff the highlight being the first good number of Sand Martins which peaked at ~29 over the main lake. Still no Blackcaps but there are several singing Chiffchaffs dotted around the park. A handful of Siskins are also still sticking around but I'm sure they will depart fairly soon. It has been a good winter for Siskins in the park. They have stayed throughout and have been seen most days.

On Sunday 15 people joined me for the guided bird walk. The forecast looked good for the morning but as usual it proved less than accurate. Things started well with ~20 Sand Martins over the main lake and a small party of Siskins on one of the Alders along the Spit. The Siskins were very confiding and hung around to give great views for everyone. They weren't put off by the group walking past and were still there when we came back a few minutes later. I'd managed to get some photo's of them in the same tree before the walk started.

Female Siskin

Female Siskin

Female Siskin
Further along the Spit I showed the group a very well used Otter spraint point. There was some very fresh spraint in evidence along with quite a few older ones. Otters tend to find an obvious place to deposit a spraint and this case it is an old mole hill. This acts as a territorial marker post for any Otters in the area.

Moving on we checked out the "Heronry" which is very slow to progress this year. After last years 2 nests we had been hoping it would continue to develop but so far only a single nest is consistently occupied. On that nest one of the birds has spent some time sitting this weekend so they might have eggs but it's not certain as yet. The other nest has been occupied at various times but not consistently.

A single female Teal and a pair of Shoveler was the best we could muster at the Kramer hide. Over on Kingsmead we had three Common Buzzards over the woods and Cormorants showing juvenile, non-breeding and breeding plumages which was most helpful.

No Otters at the sewage works bridge but the Cetti's Warbler did sing for us and Kingfisher did a brief flypast before we moved on to 100 Acre.

Along the cycle track I showed the group a beautiful Long-tailed Tit's nest before we moved onto 100 Acre and the weather caught up with us with a heavy shower and hail. We managed to stick it out and even found a rather miserable looking Redshank on the island during the heaviest part of the downpour. As it eased off we found a couple of Oystercatchers and various ducks including Gadwall, Wigeon and a pair of Red-crested Pochard. A Snipe gave brief views as it flew in and promptly disappeared in a clump of grass.

Having got a good soaking I gave the group the choice of continuing on or heading back and with another downpour looking likely the decision was made to head back.

It was a pretty good walk with a good number of species recorded, shame about the soaking but that's nature! The next guided bird walk is Sunday April 24th at 9am, meet outside the visitor centre, hopefully we should be inundated with summer migrants by then!