One of many Tree Sparrows
10th Oct. I couldn’t let the chance of a year and county tick pass me by, so I braved the drizzle of the morning and headed for Big Waters. By the time I reached the reserve I was bathed in sun! As I walked down the road a local group acquaintance stopped his car and told me that the bird was showing well. My step quickened in anticipation. With little seen before I reached the car park the Turtle Dove was almost the first bird I saw. There were a handful of birders with scopes pointed to trees in the car-park. I was soon on the bird which sat un-phased in the tree, occasionally being lit by sunlight. It was a good sighting and as I say a first for me in the county. In fact, only my second in the UK. The last time I had watched Turtle Doves was from a fire watch hide, high in a tree in Hungary, as I tried to dry out from a soaking I had received from a torrential rainfall.
I had intended to walk to the hide, so after taking in the Turtle Dove, I moved off, soon to find a lone Stock Dove in the field and a Kestrel hovering in the area. I took a look along the pathways into the scrubland but found little. As I walked to the hide I counted one hundred and four Greylag Geese on the pond. By now the sun had brought out Red Admiral Butterflies and dragonflies.
This was my first visit to Big Waters since I had visited earlier in the year after a trip to Kielder. I found a healthy population of Tree Sparrows at the feeding station along with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Great Tit, Coal Tit and Blue Tit. I never tire of watching Tree Sparrows. The birds seemed quite edgy and I found out why when I later watched the Sparrowhawk fly over what is I’m sure a regular route. As if to remind us that winter is hopefully along way off yet, two Swallows flew overhead.
With so many visiting to catch sight of the Turtle Dove I was surprised to find that I was alone in the hide until joined later by a couple I am acquainted with, who didn’t know about the Turtle Dove at all. I think they will have had a look now! Numbers of Wigeon and Teal were near the hide and birds nearby also included, eight Gadwall, and a Great Crested Grebe. I relaxed in the comfortable hide for a while before retracing my steps. I bumped into a guy who was looking for the Turtle Dove and had come along towards the hide thinking it would be in that area. I walked back with him towards the area I had seen the bird. I think he was surprised and pleased at how easily he then found it, as now it was sitting out in the open on the fence. I was pleased too, as this gave me an even better sighting of it than earlier.
So I had spent a good three hours out this afternoon. I'm trying to remember if I have had Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Stock Dove and Turtle Dove on the same day before. I’m hoping the Turtle Dove is a sign of more interest to come this month!