I managed to fit in a patch walk stroll around Epsom Common Pond yesterday mid morning. The sky was somewhat overcast plus a fairly strong breeze but that didn't stop the birds singing. In two hours I logged minimum counts of Chiffchaff (7), Blackcap (3), Wren (5), Blackbird, Dunnock (3), Blue Tit (12) [one pair were courtship displaying] Great Tit (5), Robin, Chaffinch (2), Jay, Jackdaw (8), Magpie (3), Carrion Crow [nest building], Kestrel [hunting], Sparrowhawk [fly over], Stock Dove [fly over], Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Canada Geese (3), Mallard (4), Coot (2), Moorhen (2) plus two further year ticks for this site were a male Bullfinch and a female Reed Bunting.
Getting any photographs was a different story .... nearly every time I raised the lens most species turned tail and relocated either out of range or deep into cover. I spotted 6 Mandarin Ducks (5 males and 1 female) on the Stew Pond. I slowly crept ever closer using whatever limited cover was available but the pair swimming together decided to fly off to the Great Pond and the remaining males seemed to sense any presence within 50 yards and constantly swam away in the opposite direction.
So playing the waiting game I found a spot with a little more cover and the breeze in my favour and after a while a couple of the Mandarin males eventually came within range.
A young Grey Heron hunting its prey of frogs around the Great Pond also wasn't making life any easier as it carefully stalked through the dried grassy margins only showing its head from time to time. Knowing how alert this species is to human intervention I again used the limited cover of the recently pollared willows to get within range and hid behind one trunk no thicker than a lamp post to break up my profile!
Before leaving the pond I snapped the feather pattern on the rear of a very common goose species and during a detour across the Low Meadow I stopped to admire the various shapes and forms of fungi plus the blossom on the Blackthorn.
Long-tailed Tits seemed to be flitting about everywhere, diving into clumps of bramble to locate insects. Once again when they perched up on the gorse all they continued to offer was a tail end view but not to be beaten by such a diminutive species I persevered and eventually one individual provided a much better view.
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
I have got seriously behind with my blog reading so apologies to those I haven't visited recently but I promise I will drop by over the next few days or so. We have an early start tomorrow morning to pick up my parents and then drive to the coast to meet the rest of my family in order to finally say farewell to PJB by scattering his ashes at a location he loved to visit. I'm hoping it won't be too sombre an event and I may even get to do some birding if it doesn't rain!
Wherever you are I wish you a glorious wildlife watching weekend ..... FAB.