Monday, 28 August 2017

Another one for the stick list.

Not being a fan of lists and listing, I do subconsciously keep a stick list for birds landing on perches in front of the hides at my local reserve at Grove/Stodmarsh. This is probably as it does not need too much effort to keep it up to date as it is not very often I add to it. Saying that, I have had a few interesting birds on the perches mainly from in front of the Feast hide at Grove and the Reed bed hide at Stodmarsh.
August 14th and alone early morning in the Reed bed hide I watched a Common Sandpiper fly around the pool looking for a space to land in amongst the vegetation that was growing around the muddy perimeter of the pool. It found nowhere to land and to my surprise chose to land on the Kingfisher perch and stayed for about ten minutes as it preened and tidied its feathers. Needless to say I gratefully accepted this unexpected photo opportunity.

Off no interest to anyone but myself, my stick list is now up to 15. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Back for another Osprey experience.

As we blanked on one of our Osprey hide sessions last month, we were all invited back by the River Gwash Trout Farm Osprey staff for another go, which Tim Gutsell, Alan Ashdown and I accepted, returning for a morning session on Monday 7th August. (I think the early morning scared Mike off lol) A 04.30 am start in the hide (I cannot for the life of me see why we need to get there that early, it's still dark) meant either leaving at 01.00 in the morning or doing as we did and leaving Sunday afternoon and staying at a Days Inn, (a motorway version of a Premier Inn) just outside of Peterborough.This afforded us the luxury of not having to get up until 03.30am, which after showering and a cup of tea gave us ample time to complete the last 15 miles to the Trout farm. Once in the hide and the light arrived, (another hour) we encountered the same conditions as we did on our last trip, dull and dreary but at least it was not raining. An Osprey arrived at 06.10 am, blue ringed 28 and perched in the Willow just as it did on our very first visit in July.

A magnificent looking creature.

Like last time the bird sat looking at the surface of the pool laid out in front of us and then suddenly plunged into the water giving us no time to get ready. The Osprey hit the water not 10 metres from where we were sitting and was a great experience to witness. Unfortunately, with the bird submerged in the trout pool so close to the hide, the only way out was back and away from us which was the route the bird had to take to get clear of the water. Up the Osprey rose from the pool, a Rainbow Trout slowly coming into view, firmly lodged in the Osprey's talons with the three of us now cursing our luck for the bird landing too close. Back end views were all I managed of the bird with the fish except a rather poor distant shot of it as it banked and flew off over the trout farm buildings to our right and out of sight. High iso's (2,500) and a 2.8 aperture ensured a few images but only record shots at best.
The light improved from about 07.15 am and we actually had a few glimpses of the sun, but alas, typically, there were no further Osprey sightings throughout the session.

Although witnessing an Osprey diving into a pool, landing not 10 metres from our vantage point and leaving with a trailing Rainbow Trout in its talons is a special moment, all three of us came away feeling just a little disappointed. What we could see is the potential for some classic Osprey shots and have already decided to try again next year, probably a little earlier than this years visits. There may be one place available if Mike does not want to go, anyone interested, please get in touch. (The hide takes 4 people and its nice to have it to ourselves for the sessions) Likely dates are end of April or early May. Hopefully we will encounter a little better weather conditions. Still, its our own fault, who goes anywhere during August, we should of waited for the summer.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Chance Encounter.

I am trying to remember when my last visit to Stodmarsh was, it's been a while but I think it was probably when the Red Footed Falcon was present, so a visit was long overdue. Yesterday, (Tuesday 1st) with a day free from work, I parked at the Stodmarsh end of the reserve and sauntered down to the Reed Bed hide. Just the normal Duck on the pool, no sign of the Shelduck chicks and no Waders present either so it was not long before I left and wandered down to the Marsh hide. En route by the Alder wood, distant and sitting out in the middle of the path leading down to the Lampern Wall was what I first thought to be a large dock leaf but on closer inspection through the bins, was in fact a Bittern. It was just sitting there sky pointing as I carried on down the path slowly edging nearer to it, fully expecting it to fly off at any moment.

It did not seem too alarmed at my presence as I stood there, now quite close. After a while it decided to walk off into the reeds by the dyke and try as I did, I could not relocate it, even though i knew where it went into the reed bed and the bird  must of been sitting there just a few metres from me (masters of disguise).

A chance encounter and it makes a change from seeing them skulking about partially hidden in a distant reed bed.

It was a good job I did come across the Bittern as the Marsh hide and the walk down to it was fairly mundane. Had a chat with Mel and Jan Fagg and also Ian Hufton and Peter Kesby who were all in the hide. I had two further sightings of a Bittern, the first flying out from the reeds at the the back of the meadow in front of the Marsh hide and towards the Lampern Wall and then 20 minutes or so later, probably the same bird returning, flying right over the hide and landing roughly in the same spot that the first bird took off from.
There were a few Marsh Harriers present, mainly females but no juvenile birds noticed. 
A rather scruffy Green Sandpiper dropped onto the pool in front of the hide to keep the solitary Lapwing company. I also noted two distant Little Egrets and a Turtle Dove was hidden from view drinking from the pool and was only noticed as it flew out. 

All in all not too bad a day for August although I don't think I would of said that without the Bittern encounter. Back Monday morning (7th) for another go at the Osprey's, fingers crossed for some decent light and hopefully the birds will turn up to fish.