Thursday, 12 January 2017

Bearded Tits and Crows


I had a visit to RSPB Lakenheath a couple of days ago, in the county of Suffolk.


I took Whisky for an early morning walk, and then set off by myself because unfortunately the RSPB don't allow dogs on their reserves, however well behaved they are, or even on a lead.


I got to the car park as it was still dark; about 7:15 a.m.
I did hope to maybe see a Barn Owl in the field by the car park, but no luck.


As I was getting ready for my walk round the reserve I could hear lots of birds in the distance.
I quickly made my way towards the sound, and found thousands of Crows leaving their roosting site. A bit like a noisier Starling murmuration in reverse.





An amazing sight and sound to witness.



After watching them all disperse, I made my way up to New Fen Viewpoint that overlooks one of the reed beds.
A Little Egret in the water, a few Mallards and quite a few Teal; and a distant Grey Heron.
I scanned the tops of the reeds hoping to see a Marsh Harrier.
Not a Marsh Harrier, but a Hen Harrier, slowly gliding over the reed bed.
Luckily enough one of the wardens was there to see it too, and confirm its ID.
Shortly after, two Great White Egrets flew over the reed bed too.


I made my way down the path towards the riverbank, and when I got there, out on the washland pool was two Mute Swans, and three Great White Egrets.

What a great start to the morning.



I carried on along a muddy footpath towards the Joist Fen Viewpoint at the far end of the reserve. In the woods to my left, I spotted a couple of Roe Deer, and over the reed bed a couple of Marsh Harriers.


At the viewpoint I scanned the reeds to see if any Cranes were out there.


No luck; and no Bitterns either. I could hear the faint 'pinging' call of Bearded Tits, but no sign of them. There was another Marsh Harrier flying over the reeds though.


I started to make my way down the footpath towards Mere Hide, usually a good spot to find Bearded Tits.
I hadn't gone too far when I heard the unmistakable 'pinging' sound!
A dozen or more working their way through the tops of the reeds at the side of the footpath.




Male Bearded Tit



Fantastic to see them so close.









I took quite a few pictures; after all, it's not that often you get to see these little beauties so close.



Female




Male






Female






Female, male, female







Male, female







 Male



What a fantastic visit.



Saturday, 7 January 2017

In search of Waxwings



This morning I decided that we'd go and have a look for some Waxwings.


Back in 2010, a few turned up on the berry laden trees on Tongwell Industrial Estate, so I thought given there has been a few reports of them locally recently, it might be worth going to have a look, just in case.
Lots of Redwings and Fieldfare feasting on the berries, but no Waxwings yet.


After slowly driving up and down the roads on the estate, looking like a kerb crawler, I decided to park up at Tongwell Lake, and walk round there. Last time I looked round there was the end of 2010.





It's not a very large lake, but has some great potential, plus Whisky had a good walk somewhere new.






It was very foggy, so visibility wasn't very good.





Apparently it's used for water ski-ing. Not today though.






We walked round the edge of the lake, and quite a few ducks and geese out on the water. Not much of it was frozen either.






There are a few large houses round the edge in places,



 not in my price range though


and a few joggers and dog walkers out and about too.




At one part there are some steps, that go down to a gully at the edge of the lake.





A few Mallard in there, some Gadwall, and along the edge, a pair of Grey Wagtails.






The best surprise though, was a Green Sandpiper. Sadly, no picture though.




We'll certainly return soon for another visit.





Full list of today's sightings

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
British Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula pileata)


Total species  24

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Incombe Hole



Yesterday was a cold frosty start to the day, so after scraping the frost from the windscreen of the car, we set off to Ivinghoe Beacon, and nearby Incombe Hole.
Both come under Buckinghamshire, and Ivinghoe Beacon is a prominent hill in the Chiltern Hills, standing 757 feet above sea level.
It gets windy up there too.



Not many birds to see up there yesterday, so we went across the road to Incombe Hole.


Much better.



I spent ages watching at one point, three Red Kites soaring over the 'hole',




and at times swooping down to catch whatever they had seen.





Fantastic birds to watch; and at one point, one was even watching me.







We walked on eventually, and watched a big flock of Skylark moving their way over the frozen earth of one of the fields, looking for food.


A lot of Redwing about, feeding on the berries of the trees, and even more Fieldfare.





Fieldfare



These are usually very shy, but I did manage to get a few pictures.







Very pleased with these.




Eventually, back at the car, and another bird briefly enjoying some berries.





Mistle Thrush




But then, like us, he left.






A good morning.