Saturday, 18 April 2015

Spring is on the way ... late March update.

A couple of Hoopoe, Black Kites over, an Osprey tracking north, what's that buzzing cheery little song emanating from the conifers? Ah yes, a smart little Serin of course ...  if only these had been at Stithians. But nothing to get excited about as they weren't.

Just standard garden fare from my brief sojourn in France unfortunately. Not complaining, and possibly worth dragging myself, kicking and screaming away from the Falmouth area for ...

All good practise for when they do turn up ...

So to the (reasonably damp) reality that is Cornwall again - paid another flying visit en route from Falmouth to London and environs (for another family related visiting exercise) on the last Monday of the month. Getting up, packing, picking Samuel up (he'd somehow managed to cadge a lift back that way too), a touch of shopping and dropping some seed off and it was half one in the afternoon before we finally managed to arrive.

And unfortunately for the girlfriend waiting (im)patiently in the car, the visit wasn't actually that flying from then on in either - these things can't be rushed, and it was gone 3pm before we were to finally leave for our long drive east. In the meantime ...

... the feeders got filled, the waters were scrutinised and a nice bit of birding was enjoyed. Priorities! Sorry Suzi ... ;)

Apart from the feeders being practically empty (the usual state of affairs - think the birds, especially the Great Tits do it on purpose - throw all the seeds they don't like to the ground within the first half an hour of filling them up I reckon ... ), there was a noisy and excitable flock of 21 Tufted Ducks cruising around outside on the Southern Cutoff. Very nice, and perhaps the main flock from the Reservoir paying a visit, or numbers swelling from elsewhere. Nice.

Some of the excitable Tufted Ducks

A pair of Canada Geese also hove into view, and then proceeded to upend for our viewing pleasure.

The Canadas arriving. It would be rude to show them upending.

Other birds from the hide included 2 Mallard, 3 Teal and a Little Grebe on the water side, with reasonable numbers of passerines on/by the feeders as follows -

4 Reed Bunting (2 m 2f)
12+ Chaffinch
4 Dunnock
1 Blackbird
1 Robin
5 Blue Tit
2 Great Tit
2 Long-tailed Tit
2 Greenfinch
2 Goldfinch
6 House Sparrow

No Water Rail! This could well be because it has now moved on as the Zugunruhe* filling its little hollow air-filled bones led it inexorably up and away northwards ...

With six House Sparrow being a new record! Have only seen two at once prior to this, but have suspected more for weeks now, given the degree and volume of cheeky chirping coming from the bramble scrub further back beyond the feeders.

Male Chaffinch. Nice bird actually.

Male Reed Bunting. Full dress now.

Across to the other side and visibility was just about ok - birds were there and identifiable, but it was really quite closing on by the time we came to leave (and face the prospect of driving up to Kent in it, but that, as they say, is another story ... )

Didn't manage to see any Grey Herons on this visit, although the birder in the hide (from Porth way) did say he'd seen a Little Egret not long before we arrived.

What we did see were 2 Goldeneye (female type of course - and we'd actually seen them earlier as we drove across the causeway), a Great Crested Grebe (numbers seem sadly down on the high of 7 a few weeks back, although I'm sure it is about time a proper survey was carried out), the Slavonian Grebe still and 7 Little Grebes, many in dapper summer plumage now. Two Mallard, 3 Coot and a further 9 Tufted Ducks completing the line-up.

(* Zugunruhe - a German word describing the 'migratory urge' which takes over all migratory creatures when the time arrives.)

Selected March highlights -

Probably the major one would be the arrival of the first spring migrants proper with Wheatear (male) and Sand Martins (6) on the 19th (J St Ledger).

Bittern again - 22nd March showing opposite the Southern Hide, 4pm, R Menari
12 Magpies

Intermittent cloud closing in, southern arm.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Once Bittern ...

Wednesday 18th March -

Due to be away for the week to the parents in France, so my regular Friday visit swapped for the Wednesday, and a little later in the day ...

From the Stuart Hutchings hide -

11 Little Grebe
1 Slavonian Grebe (looking a little smarter perhaps)
2 female Goldeneye
2 Tufted Duck

From the Southern hide -

4 Wigeon
2 Moorhen
2 Little Grebe
3 Grey Heron
1 Canada Goose flew through

The seed feeders were already empty - but birds still kicking around, including a Reed Bunting and 3 Dunnock. One Blue Tit rather startled itself by flying towards the feeders whilst I was still filling them without seeing me until the last moment - if Blue Tits can look embarrassed this one would have looked very surprised and sheepish as it made a hasty mid-air about-turn when realising there was a big human only three feet away as it was about to land.

Hung around a little - checking out by the causeway in the hope of Woodcock starting to stir and checking the margins in the hope of the weekends Bittern, but no luck.

 The south west corner from the Southern Causeway

I couldn't be bothered to wait until actual dark (sundown was 18:25, and it was getting chilly), so at a quarter to seven called it a day. Turned the car around and was driving over the causeway to see a familiar shape flying over the road ahead - a real actual Bittern! Managed to track it's direction (whilst staying on the road myself), and pulled up half way across the causeway (in the pull in bit, but still left the lights and hazards on) - managed to pick it up stalking along the edge of the water. 

An unexpected car tick (don't actually recall whether I have previously picked one up whilst driving before), but very nice to see up at Stithians even if the views were not the best.

Managed to get some excruciatingly awful nice record shots of the Bittern - well worth sharing as ever. The bird may even be recognisable in some!

There's a Bittern on the other side somewhere!

And there it is ... zooming in with camera 

And after a bit of basic processing ...

 ... it really is one ... !

Would have been directly opposite the hide had I been there, but the light was continuously fading and I was hungry so left it at that ...

Brief update - disturbance to hides this Saturday morning.

Running behind again and better to post something up ... perhaps. Will update this post properly later on today.

Just to mention that there is a volunteer day organised for this Saturday and that there will be some disturbance around the hides - quite possibly to the extent that the hides will be unavailable to visitors at times in the morning.

Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause - hopefully the bright sparkly new nature of the hides in the ensuing weeks will be well worth the sacrifices made. I won't be present unfortunately - currently halfway across the country on familial duties but I'm sure The Team will cope well without me. Will be back soon ...