Sunday, 26 September 2010

Pink-footed Goose and a Feeding Frenzy

A bit of a photofest today, not that I set out with that in mind. The day started with a flock of 60 or so shoveler flying across onto Ibsley Water from Mockbeggar Lake, a sure sign of there being people on the bank. I went round for a quick look and there was a car parked up, no sign of anyone and no tracks in the dew so probably anglers, so they would keep whilst I opened up the hides. From the Ivy North the roe deer were just top the west of the hide and a quick look in the hide book showed a report of long-eared owl seen yesterday, no details, just written in with "coot" and "egret", if there really was one it would be a reserve "first".

Then it was time to go over to Mockbeggar and track down the anglers, there were five of them and they had evidently spent the night fishing. There were no birds on the lake but as I walked back I flushed a woodlark from a small patch of grass, the first I have seen on the reserve this year.

A look round other parts of the reserve proved most productive. From the screen along the Rockford path I had a good view of the three young great crested grebe, now quite well grown. I saw one adult feeding a small pike to one of the young.
Back to the Centre via the Tern hide and the greylag geese out on the lake included a smaller bird, a pink-footed goose. Now this might be an escaped bird, but over the last two days there have been several reported at various unusual places, my guess is they have been displaced in the prevailing northerly winds just as lots have been arriving from the north. So my bet would be that it is a real wild bird. The best picture I got was not great but with wings raised you can tell, if you are in the know, that it really is a pink-footed goose.
There was also a remarkable number of fish eating birds around the lake today. A peregrine landed on the favourite cormorant island displacing the birds, allowing me to count them, there were an amazing 260! Added to this disturbance on neighbouring lakes had resulted in most if not all of the grey herons in the area having collected on Ibsley Water, I could not count them quite so well, but there were at least 120. Lots of fish eaters on a lake with lots of fish, well you can guess what might happen next.
The cormorants started to fly into the small bay just east of the Tern hide, they were driving a shoal of fish into the narrow inlet. The herons noticed and began to gather on the shore, a feeding frenzy had begun. In the next ten minutes or so about 100 cormorant, at least 24 grey heron, a little egret and the great white egret were involved. When it finished the cormorants all came out onto the shore to dry off. The three pictures below show things just after the start, during the feeding and the last as things ended.
Several of the cormorants have got fish in the above shot.
Above we have both egrets, a grey heron, cormorants and attendant gulls. As the cormorants drive the fish into the bay they come within range of the herons, avoiding the herons meant going back into deeper water and the cormorants.
Nothing better than a spot of sun to round off a good meal, the heron had just landed, it was not drying out.
At lunchtime I emptied the moth trap, it was a very thin catch, the only species were: sallow, pink-barred sallow, lunar underwing, brindled green and frosted orange. One of the frosted orange was especially fine and I got a fair picture of it.
Although there was a cold wind it was quite warm in the sunshine and there was a red admiral and several common darter about. The darters were perching on the picnic tables and I got a close up shot of one of them.
I had noticed that despite our several volunteer days pulling Himalayan balsam there were still a scatter of plants along the Dockens Water, so I took a walk along the stream and pulled what I could find. Most were either very small plants or ones that were bitten off by deer and "pollarded" easily missed when pulling plants in July, but now reaching flowering. If we get an early frost they might never set seed, but an Indian summer and they will so I was not taking any chances. It is an attractive plant but a real menace, spreading and taking over from native species. It is the fact that it is attractive that is the secret of much of the spread, people like it and so plant it in their gardens, it then escapes and colonises new ground.
At the end of the day there was a dunlin right in front of the Tern hide, a juvenile and a long-billed one at that. The few new grey winter plumage feathers can be seen dotted about amongst the pale fringed juveline ones. A second dunlin was also out on one of the islands well up the lake.
Other birds today included at least one white wagtail, a hobby, 4 pochard, an adult yellow-legged gull and 3 Egyptian goose. A further Egyptian goose and 2 pochard were on Rockford Lake.

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