Monday, 2 January 2017

First visit of the year to the London Wetland Centre

Before I start rambling off on what a good day I had, I must just mention the few like-minded people I saw at the London Wetland Centre today - John and Terese Cass, Martin Honey, Nigel Dodd, Frank Nugent and Mark, Nathalie Mahieu, Keith, Norman and Martin. It did feel like half of the contributors to the London Birders wiki site were present. And as always I enjoyed their company.
 
 Now I will continue my ramble..........
It was a very good visit to the London Wetland Centre today. The weather was perfect. Dry, sunny and chilly. Just how I like my winter visits.
 
Alas my photography skills were a little dubious today. I only took the one lens, and although that was fine for most of what I wanted to see, it wasn't okay for capturing the elusive Bitterns.
More about them later....
 
The Robin by the bridge was more than happy to pose for me....
 

 
There was a showy Great Crested Grebe around the Headley Hide.....


 
In total we saw three Bitterns today, with a first for me - two posing together.
 It's an awful photo below taken from the Dulverton Hide this morning, but you can just see one Bittern in the bottom right hand corner with another near the top left hand corner.......
 
 
Later in the day Frank found another from the Peacock Hide which we watched fly and land in the reeds near to the WWF Hide.....


 
 
Truly dreadful photos of the Bitterns, but to be expected when I don't pack my Big Bertha lens.
 
Other nice sightings were this male Reed Bunting from the Headley Hide underneath the feeders.....
 
 
and a male Shoveller....

 
John found us not one, but TWO Jack Snipe from the Peacock Tower.
Again the distance for my little lens was challenging....
 
 
Spot the Jacks....... 


 
Yeah, good luck with that !!
Again look at the bottom right hand corner and top left hand corner.
 
I had considerably more luck with the Common Snipes. Two were showing ridiculously well from the Headley Hide.
One was having a sneaky snooze.....
 
 
Whilst the second was playing 'hide and seek' for a while, before eventually popping up and providing great views in perfect light conditions....





 
Just before Nathalie and I arrived, the two birds had been seen mating right in front of the hide.
 
Another bird that gave Nathalie and I tantalising distant views at first, was one of two reported Water Pipits on site at the moment.
The below photo is a pure record shot showing the size of the bird against an obliging Wood Pigeon....
 
 
With a bit of patience, we watched the Water Pipit get nearer and nearer to our viewing position on the ground floor of the Wildside Hide. And eventually our patience paid off as the little beauty emerged from behind a ridge and right in front of us.....





 
Other birds seen today included a male Green Woodpecker...
 
 
and although I never usually photograph the captive birds, this lot just cried out to be photographed next to their 'lego' likeness.....

 
As to be expected there were good numbers of Lapwings around, mainly dotted on the islands but also occasionally flushed up to fly around...



 
So yes, a really good visit.
 
I'm chuffed to bits with both the Water Pipit and Common Snipe views.
Nathalie managed to grab vid clips of both of them which can be viewed here
 
Great day, great birds and great company.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Woodpecker overload at Cranford Park

It was bitterly cold at Cranford Park this morning and the frost was so thick, it almost looked like a coating of snow.......
 




The clear blue sky meant for challenging photography. The light was a little too harsh.
But plenty of birds posed for me today including this fluffed up Robin below.....
 
 
Lots of birds were looking for food in the icy weather.
The Blue Tit below had found some titbit at the end of a twig.....


 
This Great Tit was rooting through some old dead leaves......

 
A small flock of Long-tailed Tits stopped right in front of me, and for once posed obligingly.......


 
with several even stopping to have a groom.....

 
By the Information Centre a pair of Mistle Thrushes were eating the mistletoe berries.....
 
 
 

 
Up by the old Buzzard nest I found three new clumps of Candlesnuff fungi.......
 


 
But todays star of the day were the Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
All around the Bluebell Dell the air was alive with calling woodpeckers. I could see several flying around chasing each other from tree to tree.
At one point there were six individual birds flitting around the same three or four trees. Trying to get photos was challenging at first, but the more they chased each other the less they were bothered by my presence. A couple of times two birds would tumble to the ground, then fly off again before I could get a picture. It wasn't until I go home and uploaded my photos that I realised every single woodpecker I had captured were females, though I know I observed at least two males through my binoculars.
 






 
The one below seemed to be the winner. She posed just 8' off the ground and allowed me to get quite close whilst she investigated a section of lifted bark.....
 




 
I don't think this is mating behaviour, it is a little early for that, but I do believe I witnessed some sort of territorial behavioural dispute. The lady above stuck around whilst the others flew off in different directions.
 
And I also managed to add a new photo to my 'Bird's Bums' album...........
 
 
So a very worthwhile freezing cold morning at the park.