Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Westhay 5/2 Dancing Grebes

A bright and very cold day for our jaunt to Westhay. Starting at Viridor hide we had a great but quick view of a Snipe swimming by, you don't often see that! A few Gadwall around but not much else.  On towards the tower hide from where we spotted a Marsh Harrier low over the reeds. Walking on Ann spotted a lovely male Sparrowhawk glaring from the trees.
The lake opposite the new North hide had just 2 Goosander, a few Pintail and several Shoveler, Teal and a single Great White Egret.
Settling into North hide for coffee we noticed a pair of Great Crested Grebes appear from a channel and head for what looked like a nest. We kept an eye on this pair as they called to each other and flicked their heads.  Would they dance? Patience paid off and a beautiful 'Grebe Dance' was performed in front of us followed by mating at the nest a couple of minutes later.
4 Cattle Egrets flew over whilst we were watching the Grebes and a stunning male Marsh Harrier hunted over the reeds.
A Kingfisher was seen from the screen further up the path and at the farm at the end of the Drove several Little Egrets mooched around the cattle. Several Fieldfares and Redwings in the fields around Westhay, I guess these will be heading back east soon. 
There didn't seem to be plenty of birds around Westhay today but enjoying some top moments with nature and the walk around the reserve was a tonic for the soul! 

    From Viridor hide a Snipe swims swiftly by ....


    Restless Gadwall


   Marsh Harrier from the tower hide 


   Sparrowhawk within the dense trees



                  Snowdrops, now Spring is really on the way

   Checking out the nest, a Great crested Grebe

                   An invite?

                   Plenty of head flicking going on


   Crests on show


                  Suddenly 4 Cattle Egrets flew overhead

          Will they dance?


   And they danced .... Wow! 






   Coots getting aggressive


                  After the dance ....... 



   Job done the male appears to walk over the female!



   Fieldfare, one of many plus Redwings in the fields around Weshay

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A good week in Somerset 30/1 - 2/2

We left home to bright sunshine and blue skies only to arrive at Ham Wall to thick mist. The sun was trying to come through but eventually did not lift until 11:30! However it didn't deter us from a walk around Waltons where we got our first glimpse of the Ring Necked Duck. Back at Tor View hide and still in the mist we had a closer view of the Ring Necked Duck. Eventually the mist cleared so we decided to try and find the Ferruginous Duck but it wasn't to be our day.
Away from Ham Wall it was bright sunshine. On our way home we managed to see the Glossy Ibis and a single Cattle Egret, another two birds for our yearly total!
Two days later a bright but cold day saw us at Chew Valley lake. From Villice hide we had a fantastic view of a male Greater Scaup and 4 female (could be juvenile). Plenty of Pochard, Tufted, and a few Goldeneye but no sign of any Goosanders. In the woody bit there we saw a Great spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Coal Tit.  On to Moreton Hide and a walk along the flooded lane to Stratford hide first.  A lovely countryside lane with a few Primroses here and there, Spring is on the way! Good numbers of Goldeneye seen from here and a huge number of ducks at the other side even out of scope view.  At Moreton hide we struck lucky with our first ever Black necked Grebe. What a little beauty and the lovely red eye.
The next day a return visit to Ham Wall to try and find the Ferruginous Duck. On our way to VP1 in the Alders there must have been a flock of at least 40 Redpoll.  The Glossy Ibis was seen from VP1 as well as Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and 2 nesting Great Crested Grebes.  On to Tor View Hide which was full of fellow birders hoping to see the Ring necked Duck.  Thanks to Andrew Kirby he pointed out the Ferruginous Duck in the channel with some Pochard. Fantastic, we have at last seen the Ferruginous a little distant and in no sunlight but we have seen it. After some watching it flew off with the Pochard.
From Tor View hide we walked on to the Avalon hide for our coffee. Along the way we had some great views of Stonechat hopping from reed to bullrush.  We had just sat ourselves down in Avalon Hide when 2 Ducks flew in. We couldn't believe it when after a closer look we saw it was the Ferruginous closely followed by some more Pochard. Wow! Now we had some great views and the sun shone revealing some beautiful colours on the ducks.  2 Marsh Harriers were seen from here and a Bittern took a quick jaunt across the channel into the reeds. It was all going on!
A quick visit back to Tor view and another distant view of the Ring necked Duck. We got chatting to some friends about the Hawfinches they had seen that morning in Street, so that's where we headed next.
After parking up outside the Church we entered the Churchyard. It wasn't long until we spotted the Hawfinches at the top of the trees. It seems they were using these lofty perches before flying into the Yew trees where they 'dissapeared'. We saw at least 4 Hawfinches which made a very nice finish to an amazing day.

                   Ring necked Duck in the mist from Tor View hide

                   Distant Ring necked Duck in better light, different day same place!

    Great Creasted Grebe starting to look dapper for Spring

                   Glossy Ibis viewed from the Westhay to Burtle road


   Little Egret

                   A lone Cattle Egret in a field near Westhay

                   Greater Scaup from the Villice hide at Chew Valley Lake

                   A total of 5 Scaup seen, one male and 4 females?

                   Fantastic to see so many Scaup

   Black necked Grebe from Moreton Hide, Chew

                   Lovely red eye on this Grebe and a life tick 

   Pair of Great Crested Grebes starting to nest at Ham Wall

                   Grey Heron

   Stonechat male, a few pairs flitting around Ham Wall

                   Stonechat female


   At last the Ferruginous Duck seen from the Avalon hide, Ham Wall



    The Ferruginous seems to fit in well with the Pochard group





                    The sun bringing out the lovely colours of this duck



                   The one and only superb Ferruginous Duck

   A Bittern takes a stroll 




                   One of 4 seen at the top of the trees