Sunday, 12 December 2010

Redheads and White-fronts

All in all a quite excellent day, quite cold but with brilliant sunshine more or less throughout. There has been little further thaw and when I looked out of the Ivy north hide I was greeted by the sight of a single grey heron standing on the ice, probably cold, but enjoying the sun.
I have taken to walking back along the Ellingham path if I have time after opening the Ivy South hide, both Ellingham Lake and the Pound do not tend to ice up so have the potential to pick up birds seeking open water. There were a few more ducks than a couple of days ago, but most significantly there was a redhead smew on the Pound, it remained there all day. I got one reasonable picture, but I was concerned not to disturb it so I did not get too close. Redhead is a term for female or juvenile of sawbill ducks and goldeneye. It means a bird that is definitely not an adult drake, first winter birds and females look very similar and quite unlike the adult drakes.
Later in the morning I went out around the reserve, at Ivy Lake the bearded tit pair were showing well as was a Cetti's warbler. The main body of the lake was almost bird free thought, as it is almost all iced over. The ice free patch in the north-east corner had a few teal and a couple of shoveler resting on the ice. Over on Ibsley Water, the ducks were mostly pochard and wigeon with small numbers of other species including 8 pintail, which have been thin on the ground this winter. I did have a slightly odd sighting when counting the pochard, a small bird in the scraps of willow growing well out into the lake was a chiffchaff, very peculiar as it had to fly out over fifty or so metres of bare ground and water to get there. This was perhaps the one we saw at the Ivy North hide on Friday, although they occur in summer and spend the winter with us they always seem to be absent from about late October to early December. I scanned the large flock of greylag for the 5 white-fronted goose, without success, but then I saw them flying in from the west.
They landed and later took to grazing the grass on the eastern shore, gratifying as we spent a couple of days cutting the area for just such wildfowl in the autumn.
The young female peregrine tested the ducks but found none prepared to take flight and so expose themselves to attack. At the Centre feeders at least 3 brambling were feeding with the chaffinch and at the Woodland hide a single lesser redpoll was on the nyger seed with the siskin.
At dusk from the Goosander hide I saw at least 145 goosander coming to roost, the gulls included an adult Mediterranean gull and 6 or so yellow-legged gull. Just as it got too dark to see, six shadowy shapes flew over, heading toward Rockford Lake, a group of Egyptian geese.

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