Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Warblers, Rails and A Crake

After the last month's worth of travelling around all over the place, it was nice just to drive down to Upton Warren for a day's photography. I'd read online that a Montagu's harrier had been seen over the Flashes and I also knew a bittern was about, so I thought I would give the Hen Pool a go for a change. Apart from the smell of the water, and the rather low seating, it's not a bad place to lurk in the hope of some shots of reed-dwelling subjects.

At the start of the season, regardless of tactics, location and patience, I barely managed a decent shot of a reed warbler, so finding a pair feeding a late nest was a real bonus. The team at UW have cut back the reeds from outside the hide providing a great area to watch and photograph these birds, and I have to admit, I took several hundred shots!! Not that all will be used of course, and going on the speed that these agile birds hop about at, a good number will probably have no bird on at all.

The downside to the reed warblers feeding their young, is that no other warbler is allowed close, and a sedge was chased away almost immediately, and certainly before I could get a shot of it.

Warblers aside, there were also several peeping moorhen chicks mooching about, constantly calling to remind their folks where they were, and overhead, terns and black headed gulls passed over. The trees at the back also provided cover for a great spotted woodpecker, but it was too distant for a shot.

The reed warblers weren't the only star though... no, the pair of juvenile water rails that kept breaking cover were a fine attraction in their own right. One seemed to favour an area to the left of the hide, to preen and even sit down to sunbathe!

After a while though, I thought I ought to go to see if I could get a shot of the wood sandpiper on the Flashes, and upon entering the hide, was greeted by Stuart and Rob walking right at me. I was going the wrong way apparently... A spotted crake had been seen over at the Moors.

Blimey - a new one for me, and worth the speedy walk back to the car, blast down the road and rapid parking, and a semi-jog along the path to the Bittern Hide on the West side. The hide was getting full, but I managed to squeeze into a place by the window, and was soon joined by the rest who set up their tripods behind.

Scanning the reeds by the feeders soon resulted in someone shouting that it was out, and there it was, a tiny bird, so well hidden against its surroundings, but mobile and rather skittish. Similar in behaviour to a moorhen I guess - less shy than a water rail. And a first for me.

Just a shame it was cloudy when it appeared, but setting the lens to wide open boosted shutter speed enough to get some half decent shots, even one of it flying!

Disappearing into the undergrowth, we wondered if it would appear again, and were then informed by someone at the Water Rail hide that it was visible from there, so we all relocated, to see it at more of a distance, wandering around the base of the reedbed to the right of the hide.

By this time I was already late, so when it vanished for a good 10 mins, I opted to head home. What a great day and a reminder to me that I don't need to go miles for a good day's photography.

1 comment:

Reg The Birder said...

Excellent bird. Glad you got it. Right place, right time.