Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Winter Dunlin

31st January - a cold snap has begun, with overnight temperatures at least -5 C and it was only just above freezing this morning.  Unfortunately, it is also overcast, grey and gloomy, so viewing conditions are poor and photo conditions appalling (as you will see later!)

Pick of the birds this morning was a winter plumaged Dunlin foraging on the back of the spit.  It was too far off for a record shot, but came much closer this afternoon, but with worsening light, so the best of an awful bunch of record shots are here:

In focus, but bad angle

Better angle - blurred!
A lot of the Teal seemed to be on show this morning, so I attempted a count and reached 189 birds, but I'm sure there are more.  Also 4 Shelduck today.

As I walked back to the car, I found a Coal Tit in the conifers near the cottages, which looked like it had a bird feeder seed in its beak - the first cottage has a handy set of bird feeders in the garden.  Quite a scarce bird around the pits, so nice to see.  I decided to walk the northern footpath today and came across a noisy flock of Siskins feeding in the alders - about 30 birds.  I stopped on the wooden footbridge over the cut and after a few minutes caught a glimpse of a movement in the water.  Through a thick tangle of branches I watched a lovely Water Rail wandering around probing for food - it's always nice to get a prolonged view of these secretive birds.

I paid a quick second visit to the pit this afternoon.  The Dunlin was still present though much closer.  At 2:55pm an adult Mediterranean Gull flew past my position on the west viewpoint and I watched it glide in and land just off the end of the spit.  This enabled me to get another rubbish record shot - it was quite mobile in the water for about 5 minutes and then flew much further out to the east and landed in the middle of the lake.  I presume that this is the same adult bird that has been reported fairly regularly, though it appears to be more advanced in getting its black hood than the bird I saw on the 18th January, but that was 2 weeks ago!

Roll on sunnier days when I can focus!

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