Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Oct 18th Strumpshaw Fen

Just some of the many ducks I had to count!
I was given the task of counting all the ducks outside Reception Hide today. A task that would drive any normal person quackers (pun intended). With so many constantly moving around at the back of the broad, hidden behind the reedy islands and the channels tucked behind reed beds as well as a mixture of species to sort through, counting all these ducks was no easy task. Once I had managed to tally as many as I could see on the broad, I then had to count any new arrivals flying in or sneaking in from the channels. There were a lot of them!

Female Mallard
This survey was originally assigned just to me, but it appears that duck counting is quite an infectious task as my colleague and one of my regulars were soon helping me spot any duck flying in for me. There were flocks of wildfowl in the air everywhere at the far side of the reserve and sometimes in large numbers, but I decided to only focus on the ones that were close enough to see. Before gunshots from the annual gamebird shoot from the nearby fields scared every duck off the broad, I managed to tally up: 223 mallards, 44 wigeon, 41 gadwall, 16 shovelers and 11 teal. That's 335 ducks in total this morning! Now that winter is approaching, I expect to see this total to increase as more wildfowl arrive from across Europe and beyond and hopefully include diving ducks such as pochards and tufted ducks.

Mallard and Wigeon
Marsh Harrier

Also this morning; a kingfisher made a few quick flybys from Reception and Fen hides, a bittern made a long flight around the far side of the reserve but was too distant to photograph, bearded tits teased those seeking for them with plenty of pinging and a few brief glimpses and there were several marsh harriers that were constantly spooking up the ducks and causing me a few headaches while I was trying to count them. At Fen Hide, I also saw three Chinese water deer together grazing on the reed stubble.


Mute Swan
Chinese Water Deer
Shaggy Inkcap

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Oct 17th Cley

Pink-footed Geese
Back at Cley again, this time with my Aunt Barbara. It was bright and sunny, though a bit blustery. Skeins of pink-footed geese were continuously flying over the reserve, a welcoming sight and a sign that winter is just around the corner. Their 'pink wink wink' calls carry to my ears, only just piercing through the howls of the wind. Out on the pools, some of these geese were snoozing together on a few of the islands in a large gaggle. Amongst them was something special and it had everyone inside the central hide get a bit excited and pointing every kind of lens that you can think of that's related to bird watching.
Tundra Bean Goose
It was an imposter amongst the 'pinkies' with orange legs instead of pink ones. This was a tundra bean goose, a scarce race of bean goose that was recently made a separate species. After being pointed out the bird's whereabouts, it was easy enough to locate it again due to those bright orange legs. However, confusion ensued once the goose sat down for a snooze with it's orange bill hidden under it's wing. A few visitors were finding it hard to spot it for themselves while it was standing up, now it was a much trickier task with the bird asleep alongside it's similar looking cousins. Then, it got worse for those that were still searching for it as a marsh harrier chased the geese and everything else on the pools up into the air and, for the geese, fly away and out of sight!
Marsh Harrier
As this was my first full outing with my new bridge camera, it was a great opportunity to test out it's range and how quick it is to focus. It turned out to be very similar to my previous camera, though some of the buttons were in a slightly different place and will probably take some time to getting used to. I have one gripe though, the zoom range was slightly lacking a bit, but not by much. There were plenty of birds to test the camera out today, which consists of redshanks, ruff, lapwings, black-tailed godwits, little stints, ringed plover, snipe, little egrets, wigeon, teal shovelers, shelducks and a marsh harrier. I also saw curlews, cormorants, dunlins and gannets, but they proved too distant for my camera to focus on. It may not have the same reach as the old one, but I think I'm going to love this new camera!
Little Egret
Wigeon and Little Stint
Black-tailed Godwit and Teal
Ringed Plover and Pink-footed Geese
Wigeon scared up by a Marsh Harrier
Mating Common Darters