Monday 13 October 2008

Sunny October Weekend

What a lovely weekend that was. Despite the forecast of rain for Saturday, I thought I'd try for the drake common scoter that had been seen daily at Draycote Water for the past week or so. Being popular with joggers and cyclists, I dragged myself out of bed early, and was at the lake just after sunrise. Stunning sunrise it was too, shame I was driving!
The carpark was almost empty, so I got a good spot near the top, and set about walking towards the Valve Tower, in search of the scoter. The morning sunshine was golden, and the lake and everything on it was lit up beautifully.

Most of the birds were close to, or on the shore line, though I couldn't see my target bird. Nevertheless, the sight of a pair of cormorants perched on a rocky jetty, bathed in the golden light casting reflections was too good to refuse. First pics of the day!

Around by the Valve Tower, there were masses of tufted ducks, coots, lapwings and a few gulls, but no sign of the scoter. In the fields nearby I heard the distinctive call of a green woodpecker, and there were meadow pipits and pied wagtails galore. Down by the water board buildings, I spotted a kingfisher zipping along the reedbed, and a quick wander down yielded more sightings of it, plus a pied and grey wagtail and a passing great spotted woodpecker.

A quick call to Steve Seal (cheers) led me to realise I'd gone too far, and that the bird had been seen towards Rainbow Corner, so I wandered back...

Alas it wasn't to be my day. Several other birders I met had also failed to see the bird, and I eventually opted for some pics of the immature shag instead. Oh well, maybe next time. Though I did manage a couple of nice wren shots. So not a total loss.

After Draycote, I headed to Brandon Marsh, for the obligatory kingfisher viewing. The Carlton Hide was inhabited by the usual suspects, and we didn't have to wait too long to see the star - this time a female. Got a couple of shots before she headed off.

Also took the opportunity to get some pics of a grey heron fishing - though trying to anticipate it striking, was rather hit and miss, much like its fishing success.

Before leaving I popped over to the Teal Pool, but the black tailed godwit was too far off, and the light was all wrong anyway.

Sunday - I was considering trying for the scoter again, as it was apparently still there (hiding!), but a sighting of a bittern at Upton Warren changed the plans at the last second. Heading down the M5, I was greeted to the sight of a flying caravan. Not what you expect to see, and it wasn't nice to see it tumble along, spinning the car with it. Looked like the driver got out okay, though he was obviously in shock. Didn't see the cause, and there were a few "stoppers" already, so I headed on down to the reserve.

After getting to the West Hide, one of the spotters told me where he'd seen the bittern, and that there was a second (he thought) in the reeds to the right of the hide. Despite searching, we couldn't locate it. Then all of a sudden, it took flight from the reeds, across and down to the far side of the lake, near the car park. Typically, the focus wouldn't lock on, and I got some very blurred shots.

Deciding to spend the day there, I set up camp in the West Hide, and got to see the usual feeding tits, pesky squirrels and hear the occasional Cetti's calling. Not until I'd moved to the "Spider" hide, did I get to see the other bittern. Spotted by a lady also in the hide, it was sat on the edge of the reeds on the other side, plain as day! Didn't stay out long, and soon disappeared.

Moving back to the West Hide again, news had obviously got out, and I was soon joined by lots of keen folk. For once, the bittern performed, coming out of the reeds, and then flying across to the corner to where the other had gone. And at the second time of trying, I managed to get a half decent shot or two.

Superb. See my gallery for all the shots from the weekend.

1 comment:

Reg Telescope said...

Nice report. Looking forward to following your blog, Pete.