Sunday, 31 January 2016

Draycote Water and Brandon Marsh :: 30 January 2016

An early start and off to Draycote Water. A chill in the air but still overcast from rain in the night. 200m into an anti-clockwise circuit there he was, that elusive drake smew popped up from a dive. Clearly not hiding from me anymore. With each step the sun started to burn through and as the hide was reached the temperature felt noticeable warmer. ScaupDown the boardwalk a small bird dropped into the tree next to me, just where I had spotted chiffchaff on my last visit; it turned out to be a goldcrest. Song thrushes again in the hedgerows and at least four flocks of long-tailed tits. Four bullfinches were feeding in the tops of the trees as I came back from the boardwalk onto the main path. Between Toft Bay and Biggin Bay the scaup was hanging with a mixed group of goldeneye and tufted duck. Whether it was mobile or further out I failed to note the great northern diver.

Off to Brandon Marsh and lunch. The visitor centre was heaving with cyclists, their cycles adorning every available spot around the parking stands. Firsts for the year were two nuthatches, one on the nut feeders but another visiting a seed feeder not a foot from the window. Onto the reserve and quiet down through New Hare Covert and round Swallow Pool. Outside the Wright Hide I found a chap watching a goldcrest low in the undergrowth, then some siskins feeding high in the trees. PochardGood numbers of pochard were diving outside the hide. Reasonably quiet in the East Marsh hide and joined by a number of other groups. Talked about the recent bittern sightings in the channel to the left of the hide and spent most of the time watching here. Eventually rewarded but by water rail at the front edge moving left to right. Waited and eventually saw the return passage. Onto Carlton hide and nothing on the reed bed. Eventually a cormorant came to fish and a little grebe worked it's way down the right hand edge. A kingfisher fly past seemed to be all we would get but then I spotted a bittern come low across the reeds and drop in directly ahead. Waited around ten minutes with a hopeful few. Would you believe it ... up it went and everyone happy. Time for home.

Species count for Draycote Water (44): Siskinjackdaw, mallard, coot, tufted duck, little grebe, cormorant, carrion crow, great crested grebe, black-headed gull, moorhen, smew, goldeneye, pied wagtail, meadow pipit, canada goose, blackbird, blue tit, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, dunnock, robin, teal, gadwall, woodpigeon, magpie, wren, bullfinch, jackdaw, great tit, goldcrest, song thrush, greylag goose, goldfinch, scaup, chaffinch, wigeon, buzzard, goosander, lapwing, grey heron, tree sparrow, rook, lesser black-backed gull and fieldfare.

Species count for Brandon Marsh (43): magpie, reed bunting, blue tit, great tit, nuthatch, robin, chaffinch, dunnock, greenfinch, wren, blackbird, canada goose, woodpigeon, great crested grebe, carrion crow, cormorant, mute swan, shoveler, coot, gadwall, black-headed gull, goldcrest, siskin, moorhen, lapwing, common gull, lesser black backed gull, goosander, pochard, tufted duck, grey heron, long tailed tit, goldeneye, shelduck, oystercatcher, teal, herring gull, water rail, greylag goose, kingfisher, little grebe and bittern.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Draycote Water :: 16 January 2016

Having failed seeing the drake smew at Draycote Water on two occasions, both in wet and windy weather, Draycote WaterI set off early to see if my luck would change. Below freezing as I set out with car windows needing scraped.

Quiet on the roads and arrived just before sun up. Two guys offered me their ticket as they were abandoning their cycle round the reservoir as a bad idea, given the temperature at that time. Watched the sun rise from the side of the reservoir then set off for a circuit. No sign of the smew but pleased to see the hide was open again after vandalism close it during the festive season. The birds seemed to be appreciating the cold but still and bright conditions with chiffchaff and goldcrest showing very close but in woods.

After a fruitful circuit I still had no smew on my list so I decided to make another journey down to the hide. Drake smewMet a couple surveying the bay with a scope and they picked up both the smew, a redhead and the scaup - it's good to talk! Walked round the bay to the other bank for better photos but still distant. While watching for the smew was lucky enough to be given a fly past by a kingfisher.

A most enjoyable morning.

Today's species (50) included: coot, little grebe, mallard, goldeneye, carrion crow, tufted duck, great crested grebe, greylag goose, cormorant, black headed gull, meadow pipit, great northern diver, lesser black backed gull, wren, woodpigeon, moorhen, teal, pied wagtail, robin, blue tit, blackbird, great tit, dunnock, chiffchaff, bullfinch, song thrush, goldcrest, great spotted woodpecker, long tailed tit, green woodpecker, starling, jackdaw, canada goose, pochard, fieldfare, redwing, common gull, rook, grey heron, goosander, chaffinch, reed bunting, tree sparrow, magpie, lapwing, gadwall, smew, feral pigeon, scaup and kingfisher.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Draycote Water :: 02 January 2016

Another attempt to bag the drake smew reportably present at Draycote Water. Numerous photos on twitter, with the bird "showing well", have frustrated me since my last attempt. On that occasion the weather was inclement and this visit was to be no different, wind and temperature a bit more bearable though. I was also assisted by "her indoors" so a pleasant afternoon come what may.

Unfortunately, despite a full circuit, I was again unable to tag the bird. Perhaps I should go on a nice day?

Species spotted today (31) included: black-headed gull, robin, blackbird, coot, mallard, little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, long-tailed tit, tufted duck, pochard, goldeneye, carrion crow, moorhen, lesser black-backed gull, shoveler, rook, goosander, grey heron, canada goose, teal, scaup, pied wagtail, wigeon, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, magpie, great northern diver, woodpigeon and shag. At least the year list is up and running.