Monday, 9 March 2015

Waters Geese to Carr Owls

8th Mar.  Hoping that the Greenland White-fronted Geese would still be present at Big Waters we made towards that area today and weren’t to be disappointed with the birds showing distantly, but well.  Wandering around the area I found myself exploring parts of Big Waters and the surrounding area that were new to me.  The distinctive calling of Pink-footed Geese were heard as Sam and I walked through the farmland area and we watched as the skein flew towards us and overhead before landing it seemed on the pond.  We’d seen a skein of Greylag Geese as we had journeyed to Big Waters and later found a small number on the pond, where Canada Geese were also present.

Greenland White-fronted Geese.  Given the distance I didn't bother to get the camera out, but Sam did and managed a good record image.
Having noted that warmer temperatures had been forecast for the weekend I was pleased that I had ignored this and wrapped up well as the wind ensured that the air was cold.  The hedges didn’t provide much in the way of birds, but we did find the like of Goldcrest and Redwing.  The feeding station at the hide had good numbers of Tree Sparrow visiting as usual and the Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen as we approached, and later on the feeders.  Other visitors here included Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.  Water Rail was heard.

Reed Bunting
The whistling of Wigeon was constant and numbers of Teal swam close by the hide.  Gadwall were well represented and the odd Goldeneye seen.  I watched two Mute Swans seemingly engaged in fighting at the far end of the pond.  Necks and wings seemed to be entangled and neither bird seemed willing or able to disengage. This battle went on at length until it seemed that injury to one or both of these birds would be inevitable.  Another two Mute Swans close by were agitated by this and would every few minutes almost take to the air before returning to the side of the fighting pair.  My mind was eventually taken by other events and I never did see the birds disengage, but presumably they had, as peace seemed to be restored when we prepared to leave the hide.  Spring is perhaps affecting the hormones!

We had decided to end our day at Prestwick Carr, hoping for sightings of the Short-eared Owls, so that was our next stop.  We were soon watching a pair of Kestrels hunting north of the bumpy road.  It is my imagination or is this road getting bumpier?  We walked the length of the road taking sometime to watch the changing moods in what was now much better light than earlier in the day.  The landscape to the north of the road in particular.  We also spent sometime with the Exmoor Ponies.  Beautiful beasts.  My mind began to wander to the story of Gulliver and the Houyhnhnms, those mild mannered equine creatures who lived alongside the Yahoos, the rather uncouth human type folk.  I’d rather be with the Houyhnhnms and wildlife than our rather too many Yahoo types of today!  On our way back we watched the rather curious goats.  Curlews and Golden Plover called in the background and a single Lapwing flew overhead.

Exmoor Pony

View northwards in changing light

Stopping to watch the birds visiting the feeders at the viewing platform I managed to get some none too good images of Willow Tit and Reed Bunting.  Sam got his eye on a distant hunting Short-eared Owl and we decided to get back along the road while the light was still reasonably good.  We came into contact with several familiar faces as well as the Short-eared Owls which ended our day on a high.  I believe that there are at least five owls present.  We concentrated on watching two hunting north of the road.  The thermometer was saying seven degrees, but my body was saying it couldn’t possibly be that warm!  We had a good day with almost sixty species and a good walk out. 

Willow Tit

Short-eared Owl

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