Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Woolston finch-fest

On Saturday Nick and I braved really-really-coldness to visit Woolston Eyes. It was evident pretty early on that all visible bits of the 'Eyes' were frozen solid so the focus was mainly on little birds, especially wintry ones.

From the path towards the reserve proper we found a Kingfisher sulking in a canal-side tree, too far below us and too shadowy for photos. More co-operative was this Redwing, one of a mixed group of thrushes flitting back and forth across the path.

There are feeding stations either side of the hide here, and I could just about see that the finches on the ground below them included quite a few Bramblings, while on one feeder was this male Bullfinch.

From the (elevated) hide, it was easier to see what was going on at ground level. Here are three male Bramblings at various stages of plumage development, with some Chaffinches.

The feeders themselves were mostly packed with Greenfinches - nice to see, given how scarce this species has been lately in some areas thanks to the dreaded 'trich'.

Now and then all the Greenies would rush away for no obvious reason, and this was when a Willow Tit would sneak in to grab a seed.

There is also a Marsh Tit here (apparently just the one) - caught and ringed recently. I heard it pitchoo-ing and had a possible brief view but no pics.

Shunning the feeders was this Lesser Redpoll, which dropped in to feed on the mugwort seeds in front of the hide, and refused to give us a clear view.

Not strictly finches but of the finchy ilk - two male Reed Buntings in the reeds around the feeders.

A Common Buzzard drifted over.

On the frozen lake itself there was almost nothing to see - a few Shelducks sitting on tiny islets, and this lone Canada Goose.

We opted to walk down to the weir, to see if all the regular wildfowl had been pushed there. The sky was starting to look a bit ominous by this point but there were still sunny moments.

An odd squeaky caw drew our attention to these fast-moving corvids. Then the other bird joined in with a baritone cronk, confirming they were Ravens - lovely surprise!

The waters around the weir were indeed full of wildfowl - Tufties, lots of Shovelers, Gadwalls, Mallards.

The larger bit of water, left of the path, also held four drake Goldeneyes, though curiously no ducks.

On the other side of the weir, two more drake Goldeneyes (and again no females). They were better lit but still too far away really.

This female Mallard came closer, in hope of bread, but we had none so off she went again. And because the grey clouds were really building now we headed back, finding big numbers of Redwings on the way. A lovely morning at the Eyes despite frozen-ness.

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