Long time, no blog. We've both been busy at weekends for the last few weeks, plus the weather's been dire. Photographic opportunities have been limited to the succession of Harlequin Ladybirds which have invaded our living room. We've had black ones, red ones, spotty ones, plain ones. Evil and invasive they may be, but also undeniably cute.
Today, sunshine was forecast first thing, so I got up early and walked down to the wildlife reserve, armed with the Panasonic in case I saw any birds. I did, but most of them evaded my clumsy and amateurish attempts to photograph them.
Almost the first bird I saw was a superb male Bullfinch, lurking close to the visitor centre. A site first for me (though the log shows they're seen regularly). No photo - the sun was only just up and the Panny was offering shutter speeds of about three seconds.
On the path up towards Willow hide, I was very pleased to hear the spluttery/fluty songs of several Blackcaps, with Chiffchaffs providing a less beautiful but equally welcome backing track. There was some pleasingly backlit wildfowl bobbing about on the big lake - I took a beautifully lit and composed but hopelessly out-of-focus cheesy Mute Swan pic, and, slightly more successfully, these two Canada Geese.
There was little to see from the Willow hide. In its vicinity, though, there was a nest-site-prospecting Long-tailed Tit pair, and I got reasonable looks (though no decent photos) of both Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Then, on the path back towards Tyler hide I found a couple of Treecreepers. One of them zipped smartly around the tree trunk out of view immediately, but this one must have been half-asleep.
En route to Tyler hide I photographed a Jay which was... actually, I've no idea what it was doing. It was up a tree and attacking the bark. It was curiously oblivious to my presence. Unfortunately the Panasonic was oblivious to the Jay's presence, repeatedly refusing to focus on the bird but instead on some twigs in the foreground. Because obviously I want nice sharp photos of some twigs against an atmospheric backdrop of blurry Jay. Stupid camera. Anyway, I did manage one sharp(ish) frame before the Jay got bored and left.
There were lots of Swallows whizzing around the Tower hide. I went in and enjoyed some brilliant close views of them as they zoomed past, within touching distance. There were also Sand and House Martins hawking over the water - this must be the first year that I've ever had my first annual sighting of all three hirundines on the same day. Outside the hide, I noticed a small something with a yellow tummy high in a tree, and as I got it in my bins, it decided to spare me the Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff ID dilemma and began to sing its lovely sweet down-the-scale Willow Warbler song. I took some photos, which were awful.
What else? Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. No interesting migrant waders, just the usual Lapwings (swooping about, making toy trumpet noises and attacking the geese) and Snipes (skulking almost invisibly in a clump of foliage on an island). Wildfowl numbers falling, but still plenty of Mallards, Gadwalls, Teals and Tufties. One Goldfinch. One Skylark calling over the horse-filled field on the way in. The horses were all standing in one corner of the field, with eerie Hitchcockian stillness.
We've lots of birding trips planned for the Easter weekend. So, if the weather doesn't let us down, more posts soon.