Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Bittern at Barnes.

It was a chilly but clear morning on Sunday when I joined a Surrey Bird Club field-trip to the London Wetland Centre at Barnes. Some of the shallower parts of the extensive pools showed how cold it had been overnight with a thin layer of ice enabling this Coot to 'walk on the water'.

There were a number of species on our wish list and it wasn't long before the star attraction, a [Eurasian]  Bittern, (Botaurus stellaris) was located on the edge of a distant reed bed.

Typical of this well camouflaged species it stood stock still for many minutes before adopting its upright pose to scan the vicinity for a possible meal before disappearing into the reeds.

Other species logged included Lapwing, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Northern Shoveler, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Canada, Greylag and Egyptian  Geese, Gulls (Herring, Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed), Grey Heron, Robin, Stonechat, Tits (Blue, Great and Long-tailed), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Ring-necked Parakeet, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Blackbird.

Whilst high up in the Peacock Hide I watched a male Sparrowhawk dashing low over the marsh scattering the wildfowl, Pigeons and Starlings before coming to rest in a tree close by but getting a clear shot through the foliage was near impossible.

On returning to the WWT Hide with one of my colleagues we were both fortunate to get another view of the Bittern that had reappeared in almost the same spot.

After walking up through the reeds it eventually decided to fly off to another distant reed bed. 
For many of my fellow birders this was probably the best ever views they had experienced of this elusive species and I'm pleased to have got a few record images to share for this weeks edition of Wild Bird Wednesday.  FAB.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wings over the water.

With falling temperatures and chilling winds the birds haven't been very active but as soon as the park visitors arrive with any sort of handout the resident Black-headed Gulls seem to appear from everywhere and provide an opportunity to capture some in-flight shots. So here are a few from a recent session.

Flaps down for a safe landing.

Diving in at speed.

Losing some weight! .... Better watch out below!

Flying off with the prize.  Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday.

P.S. I have just learned that a close friend and birding companion for many years passed away on Sunday and my thoughts go out to his wife and family at this most difficult time. I hope to catch up with everyone in the next few days. FAB.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Recent Patch Birds.

Another damp and dreary week so very limited opportunities for photos during my local patch walks around Epsom Common Pond but here are a few of the recent visitors and residents.
A single Greylag Goose. A fairly infrequent visitor on the patch who decided to keep its distance.

I have counted up to six Northern Shoveler on the pond this last week. The males were in various plumage's but often hidden away while feeding in the waterside vegetation. Occasional forays across the water always seem to be a long way away from my viewing point hence this cropped record shot.  

One of the resident Mallard flying over in the hope of not missing out on a hand-out!

Kestrel taking a well earned rest from its hunting activities.

A 1st winter Mistle Thrush, perched in the open, showing off its distinctive rounded black breast spots and the paler outer coverts.

One of the many Ring-necked Parakeets inspecting a possible roosting hole. This is now a common resident breeding species but more often seen and heard when flying over the woodland.

Back at home there has been far more activity around the feeders including Blue Tit (above image shot through the window), Great Tits, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrows, Starling, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird and Ring-necked Parakeets making sure I keep the larder well stocked.  FAB.


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