Yes it's been a little while since my last post but up until more recently it's been same old, same old! That said I've now added the illusive Bittern to my year list at Brandon Marsh and have finally caught up with things at Draycote Water.
|Black-necked Grebe - Draycote Water
To begin with Draycote Water and a bitterly cold start this morning just as the hazy sun broke over the horizon. The usual abundance of Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe on arrival and I soon caught up with Richard Mays and Dave just prior to reaching Farborough Spit. A search through the Greylags and Canada's grazing on the field below yielded a couple of White-fronted Geese and a single Pink-foot Goose, although I didn't pick the pinky up until my return journey. The Black-necked Grebe was fortunately still on site providing a year first and I managed a number of record shots in the morning gloom. Worth a mention, a brace of Shoveler out towards the centre and a single Little Egret over on Lin Croft.
On route back along the bank Richard picked out the drake Smew, way off towards the inlet and nestled in among a group of Goldeneye, which were in good numbers today. After parting company I decided to head off up towards the inlet to check out the Tree Sparrows and on route a single Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, several Goosander and around a dozen or so Teal. The Tree Sparrows were in situ around the feeder and I managed at least fifteen or so of these smart looking birds. The field just to the rear of the feeder held a decent sized mixed flock, consisting of Linnet, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer, but alas no Brambling within! A surprise was a single Skylark happily singing away right above my position, despite the bitterly cold conditions. Before returning to the car park a Grey Heron provided a good photo opportunity and Pochard numbers seemed pretty good with 37 counted. Although I knew a couple of Pintail were around I didn't manage to connect today, although an enthusiastic biker insisted on showing me his pics when I arrived back at the car!
The marina itself has been a great place to hear and see Tawny Owls recently and in the still cold air last night I'm positive at least four birds were heard within the grounds. Lots of House Sparrows are taking advantage of the many feeders at present and a reasonable flock of Linnet with several Yellowhammer within have been on the adjacent fields for the past week, but despite my hopes of a Merlin taking advantage I've yet to be rewarded.
Finally, over the near 10 years I've been moored at Wigram's Turn I've always found the marina to be a haven for wildlife. A great deal of thought went into the planting and surroundings when the marina was first built, not by the current owners I hasten to add. However, more recently the marina management hierarchy have made some astonishing decisions and I was appalled a few weeks ago to see the decimation of the west-side reedbed and the cutting back of crucial roosting areas. To what end I'm completely at a loss. Reed Buntings, Wrens, roosting Pied Wagtails and small sheltering mammals regularly seen there have been totally displaced. Absolutely bewildering management and despite voicing my concerns and in typical fashion I'm yet to receive a response!