Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sam's Demagnetised at Gosforth Park NR

I remember not so long ago that I had simply to turn up at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve along with Sam and Bitterns were immediately drawn to him, but now although he has shown no obvious symptoms I think he may have been demagnetised.  We failed to see Bitterns again during a four hour visit today.

Despite the failure and the fact that the reserve was rather quiet we did have a good few hours.  Access to the pathways is now fully restored so I was able to view the recent work which has largely been carried out by volunteers.  The reserve has certainly seen some major changes in the past year or two what with the new hide and now new small pools and areas of tree planting where old trees and in particular Rhododendrons have been removed.  Some very good work has been carried out.

Some of the fine work going on at the reserve.
The feeding station has been generally rather quiet when we have visited this year, probably reflecting what has been quite a mild few months.  It was certainly a beautiful day today with wonderful lighting conditions at times.  The usual woodland species were seen including Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, the latter offering the usual good photo opportunity.  Two Stock Doves were seen at the box.  I was travelling light today so had reverted to my old lens and enjoyed the freedom of much less weight.  On arrival at the pond we found the Ridley Hide empty and not a lot on the pond.  Nevertheless it wasn’t long before we heard Water Rail/s and were watching Wigeon and Teal which seemed to be put on edge by something and it wasn’t long before we found what was disturbing them.  Movement of the water near the reed edge give away the presence of an Otter and we had very good if distant sightings of it as it swam the length of the pond and eventually disappeared along the channel in the far corner.  It was our first Otter of 2016.  On our arrival we had found areas of ice still present on the water. 

It wouldn't be the same with out a Great Spotted Woodpecker image.  Drumming was heard during the day and on one occasion three Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew off together.
What appeared to be a female Sparrowhawk was spotted whilst we were in the Ridley hide and again when in the smaller hide.  The second appearance was way above our heads as the Sparrowhawk was challenged by a corvid which on at least one occasion made physical contact.  As we had arrived at the second hide photographers were taking images of the Grey Heron which flew off as we entered.  We were told a Bittern had shown earlier in the day.  A few Common Snipe were noted flying over the pond and Jays were heard.  Oh well, I was satisfied with the sighting of the Otter and a very good peaceful day.

We walked back to patch and watched the three Great Crested Grebes.  Sam had noted the early arrival of the first one on 11th February, certainly a few days earlier than we would usually expect them.  Sam had told me of some obvious markings on one of the birds which we assume is the male and they certainly are very noticeable which will add interest to our watching this year.  Behaviour was certainly interesting today.  The lake was otherwise fairly quiet with the Smew now seemingly gone.  Be interesting to see if it makes yet another appearance this winter although I think it would be due to leave now or if we have Smew again next winter, as it may have found the feeding very good here.  The male Goosanders were showing really well in the good light and Goldeneye were displaying.

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