Monday, 24 September 2012

Autumnal sunshine

Apologies for the rather repetitive nature of my blog lately. Work pressure has limited the potential for exciting outings, for now... but I am trying to get a few local patch visits in when possible. I had a few hours there on Saturday morning, when it was sunny (but with a chilly breeze). The first thing I saw was a male Blackcap munching elderberries in the wildlife garden, which was a nice start.

The Buddleia clump where the trail splits between East and West Lake still has a few purple blooms on the go, and there were four or five Commas feeding on them, plus a lone Red Admiral.

I went to Tyler hide, from where there was plenty of wader-enticing mud on show, but no waders. (And after the uber-rain on Sunday and today, I expect the mud has now gone too.) Not much else either - lots of Greylags, quite a few Teals, the usual Lapwings, Cormorants and so on. The recent dry weather has seen the Serengeti expand to the point where it is now connected to the nearest island, and across this expanse of green and brown wandered two well-camouflaged female Pheasants.

I walked on to Sutton hide. More tempting mud on show here, and the channel that runs in front of Kingfisher hide has completely dried up, meaning that you are even less likely to see a Kingfisher from there than usual. Out in the shallows loafed another cluster of geese, a few Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Moorhens.

Feeling a little discouraged, I retraced my steps, noting calling Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, the pinging and purring of Long-tailed Tits, and a few Jays flapping ponderously overhead, their throats stuffed to bursting point with acorns. I took the West Lake route around towards Willow hide, seeing one of the resident Great Crested Grebes on the way.

At Willow hide, I was pleased to find this Little Egret, a bird I rarely see on the patch. It was way over the far side, and soon after I got to the hide it flew away, but here's the proof that it WAS there.

 There were six pairs of Egyptian Geese present, all on the far bank near the egret. These two took to the water and swam past, sending suspicious glares in the direction of the hide as they went.

There was plenty of mud on show here too, and several Teals were nearby, paddling about in it. More excitingly from my point of view was a trio of Wigeons, which sadly kept a long way away from me and my lens. I see from my old posts that last year's first Wigeon on the patch (for me) was 15 September. Other wildfowl were a few Gadwalls and Tufties, and a pair of Mallards.

Rob showed up at about this point, and we had a long stay in the hide although not a great deal else happened. A Kingfisher raced past. Flybys included more Jays and a couple of Stock Doves. I kept thinking I could hear a distant Buzzard but scanning the skies revealed nothing.

The resident Mutes decided to throw us some photo opportunites, and drifted over from their favourite distant corner, to stand in a shallow bit and have a lengthy preen.

Then the four or five Coots that had been peacefully foraging in various bits of the lake decided to come together for a big rumble. That was fun.

The Teals, which had paddled off rather hurriedly after Rob arrived and set up his hide clamp slightly less than silently, were drifting back to enjoy the muddy patches.

We left soon after this and went back via Carter hide. Alongside North Lake we stopped to photograph a Great Tit that was resting low in a tree, and later on checking the photos discovered that it had a really awful-looking injury on its belly. Presumably it had escaped a predator - but the damage looked too much to be survivable.

On to Carter hide, where we had a close flyby from two Kingfishers, and saw one of the local Grey Herons having a swim, duck-style off the island. Numerous tandem pairs of Common Darters flew low over the lake, the females jabbing their rear ends into the water as they laid their eggs.

Back at the wildlife garden, we were just starting to pack up when a male Common Darter arrived for a bask on a picnic table. Rob borrowed the big macro lens for some gruesome close-ups. As you can see, the dragon didn't particularly object to this.


Warren Baker said...

Oh for some of those ducks here Marianne, all I get are a few Mallards........usually :-)

Rohrerbot said...

You've got some wonderful shots. Beautiful nature walk. No need to is a pain sometimes:) It gets in the way of our fun.

ShySongbird said...

An entertaining read again Marianne. I think I have only seen two Commas all year!