Monday, 12 March 2012

Frogs, Toads, Birders and Photographers!

Colourful boy

Loving couple

Two of seven

Food developing for the herons!

Thanks for saving me!

11th Mar. It has to be some years since I visited Washington WWT so it was nice to make a return visit accompanied by Sam and his dad Malcolm. The later really seems to be getting the birding bug! :-) It was nice also that it was almost like a summer’s day. It was an ideal day for me to get in some practice with the camera. I enjoyed looking at some of the captive birds in close up, several of which I have seen in the wild, but generally not at such close quarters. I will probably put some of the shots taken of them in a separate post.

The wild birds were given attention, and star attractions were the numbers of Grey Herons and seven Avocets. The latter hopefully returning to breed again. We found seven of them on or near to the island. I believe eight have been seen up to now, but the eighth bird eluded us. It’s great to have these birds breeding so far north now and hopefully again at Cresswell this year. When I was much younger the Avocet was a bird I looked at in books and found so unusual and exotic. At the time I never really thought about sighting any. Other birds in this league were Waxwing, Hoopoe and Dartford Warbler. I can even remember a time when I longed to see a Great Crested Grebe! Anyway, birds on the water along with the Grey Herons and Avocets included gulls, Teal, Shelduck and Redshank. We read the notice in one of the hides apologising for the mess left by the Barn Owl which seems to roost in there. I never mind mess left by birds. I only object to rubbish left by humans, and the world is full of it!

The feeding station gave some opportunity for some photographs with the likes of Bullfinch, Great, Coal, Blue and Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinch Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock and Pheasant showing up. This bird photography is not as easy as it looks with all these branches getting in the way and the damn birds keep moving. I kept trying though! I had a bit better luck with the Long Tailed Tits this time around.

The amphibians drew our attention as much as the birds and I have to say that there are some wonderful small pools at the centre now. You would think that by now I would know the difference between Frogs and Toads, but I confess I still struggle in that area. In theory I know the difference dryness, wartyness and length of back legs, but in practice……errrr! I do know frogspawn when I see it however and I can’t ever remember seeing quite as much of this as I did today. One Toad in particular was a perfect model for us and Sam rewarded it by taking it back to the pool and out of the way of big feet! It seemed happy enough. I was hoping it hadn’t just left this pool to seek romance somewhere else, but at least it was saved from being squashed. I believe Malcolm spotted a Newt. I’m going to read up and remind myself of the things learnt as a youngster about amphibians, that I have now forgotten.

I’d kept a look out all day fro the Green Woodpecker which on arrival Sam had told me had been spotted. It was when we left I cottoned on that it had been spotted several days before! I’m not having much luck with Green Woodpeckers.

I really enjoyed the day and before it was over I had some good shots of a Common Cranes head and Sam had some bird seed to feed the waterfowl. I suspect there was a little self interest behind this in that he was enticing them closer for better photo opportunities.:-) As it happens they all seemed extremely well fed and lethargic by now and most turned their bills up to even more feed. I thought at one point Sam was going to resort to force feeding, that is until a Hawaiian Goose gave in and took some seed from him simply to get Sam to go away and leave it in peace I think.:-)

It had been a great day. Thanks Sam and Malcolm. An appropriate visit too, in that we are off to a talk on Tuesday about the conservation of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper that the WWT are very much involved in.

‘Make the boy interested in natural history if you can……..’
Written in a letter from Capt Scott to his wife and found in the tent in which he died in Antarctica. The boy of course was the Late Peter Scott, founder of the WWT. Thanks for reminding me of this Sam.


  1. Sounds like a good day, great photos :)

  2. Thanks Cain.:)
    Yep, a very good and interesting day. I suspect there will be some top notch photos coming later in the week courtesy of Sam.:-)

  3. Great variety in species (amphibians as well as birds) and some very nice photos!

  4. Thanks Mark. Amphibians almost won the day. Sounds like a rugby team.:-)

  5. Lol. (Or maybe an American Football team).