Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Big fun at Barnes

Yesterday I went to Barnes (London Wetland Centre, WWT London, the duck place of many names) to meet Graham C and Shan from the RSPB forums. It started off sunny, then turned gloomy, then sunny again (and very warm) and finally a bit cloudy to finish. Took the first off-peak train, which got me to the centre at almost 11am. Soon I spotted Shan and Graham weaving through the throngs of school party children, and we set off to look in the hides on the east side of the reserve. The trees that lined the trail were alive with birdsong.

Tell me if you are getting bored with Long-tailed Tit photos. This one just kept bobbing closer and closer, obviously wanting to check out our optics.

A lovely male Greenfinch, fresh from a bath in the nearby lake. Also in evidence were Chiffchaffs and Goldfinches.

Wild duck numbers are pretty low now. Maybe the Shovelers will stick around to breed, I'm not sure. There were a couple of dozen Teals about too, and a similar number of Wigeons on the grazing marsh.

Lapwings were whooping and wheeling about over the main lake, though none were really close enough for decent photos. This one is helpfully pointing out one of the five or so Redshanks that were also about.

In the World Wetlands centre we witnessed this mother Mallard leading her 14 babies across the path to water, perhaps on their very first day of life. Ahhh.

If the bird's too close for the lens, it's portrait time. Here's a splendid drake Mallard who was sitting on the bridge handrail next to the Eiders' enclosure.

And here are some of the captive Eiders, going nuts for a handful of ducky kibble.

A very tame but full-winged so apparently wild Egyptian Goose. Got to love that thoughtful amber eye.

 I'd hoped for better pics of this yellow-billed Moorhen, an intriguing example of pigmentation weirdness. Still, without Graham there to show me where she lived, I might not have seen her at all.

What else did we see? Not that much, to be honest. There've been recent sightings of Bittern and Water Pipit but we had no joy, nor did we see the Brambling supposedly frequenting the feeding station. I got desperately bad photos of a small bird which proved, on maximum cropping, to be a Lesser Redpoll, and also a Stock Dove going overhead. There were Ring-necked Parakeets around, as ever, and before I arrived Shan and Graham had good views of Green Woodpecker, and also saw a Cetti's (I heard a few but not a sniff of a sighting). But never mind the birds, the company was great, the light was photo-friendly and the day as a whole was excellent.


IOW Birder said...

Sounds like a great day out, lovely pics too!

Tricia said...

Ah - one of my favourite places. Sounds like a good day.

The yellow-beaked Moorhen (or another one) was around last year but as yet I haven't seen it this year. Whereabouts was it? It was just outside the centre last year.

Lovely pictures; especially the inflight Lapwing.

Marianne said...

Thanks folks!

Tricia, the Moorhen was in a pen in the World Wetlands area (ie where the captive birds are), in a small lake with a steep bank of grass and artifical rock behind it. If I remember rightly it's the section that contains the Hawaiian exotics (Nene and Laysan Teal). There were two yellow-billed birds, this one and another which looked like a first-winter. I guess they are free to go anywhere they like but the friend I was with said he had seen them in that particular pen on two previous visits.