Sunday, 31 January 2010

Icy blue with a hint of Spring

Another really very cold day with frost staying on the ground all day despite the almost unbroken sunshine. Still there are more and more signs of approaching spring, in a sheltered spot along the Dockens Water the Hazel catkins are elongating and there is more birdsong as each day passes.
Beside the Education Centre a Mistle Thrush sang from the top of an oak tree more a good time in the morning, a well as the bird, picture shows the remarkably blue sky that was a feature of the day.
On Ivy Lake the number of wildfowl remains very high with hundreds of Gadwall and Wigeon. The resident pair of Mute Swans are sticking close together and the male, an especially aggressive one that we have nicknamed "Asbo" has been chasing the Canada Geese and seems less willing to put up with the two cygnets from last year, although he has not yet forced them to leave the lake.
The wildfowl on Ivy Lake periodically gather in tight groups to feed, each group with a few Coot dragging up weed and accompanied by Tufted Ducks, Gadwall and Wigeon and often also a gang of Black-headed Gulls and in the case of the picture below a Common Gull. The Coots do the work and provide weed scraps for the Gadwall and Wigeon, the gulls are no doubt cashing in on the aquatic invertebrate the weed pulling disturbs and brings to the surface.
Some of the Coot prefer to feed alone or in pairs, the one below is one of a pair that are already taking up territory in front of the Ivy South hide.
The Woodland hide feeders continue to attract increasing numbers of Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Brambling. Meanwhile on Rockford Lake the redhead Smew continues to bring in the birders, although it remains distant and typically very close into the shore, today favouring the eastern shore.
My most unusual sight of the day was not a rare bird but a nice passage of behaviour. A group of Blackbirds, Jays and other smaller birds had discovered a Tawny Owl in bushes on the western side of Ellingham Lake. Eventually the owl broke cover and for a while was sitting in the open in a poplar tree surrounded by scolding birds.

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