Friday, 10 February 2012

Revisiting "Old Friends"

I hadn't visited the Widewater since the end of last year and I really wanted to add the Snow Buntings to the year list and, if possible, get some more shots. Also the cold snap might just have brought something unusual into the lake. The weather was very cold but there was some weak sunshine, definitely not forecast by the doom laden media who turn 2cm of snow into a major natural disaster of biblical proportions. On arrival there were several species of wader present - Knot, Dunlin and Redshank two of which were recorded on camera. A leisurely walk from the car park to the Sailing Club resulted in nothing except for noting a large raft of Great Crested Grebes on the sea moving west with the incoming tide. On the return I met a kindly birder who pointed out the birds, apparently they had moved to a new feeding station provided by local birders. The birds are very approachable and I managed several shots. Obviously the feed put down had been found by two pigeons who were having a feast.


Feral Pigeon

Snow Bunting

Snow Buntings - a real pair

Another scan of the lake revealed nothing of interest so in the strengthening sunshine I made may way to RSPB Pulborough Brooks. As soon as I got out of the car at the visitor centre I heard the unmistakable chirp of a Crossbill, sure enough a bright red male high in the tree above me. What I really wanted was a flock coming in to drink in the fairly scarce unfrozen water that collects in the wheel ruts of the tracks through the heath - not a sign. I met another birder in search of a Crossbill as a lifetime tick and for an hour it seemed a wasted journey for him. Then as if on cue they turned up in the Corsican pines just south of the mound, 10+ males and females high up in the pines. None in range for a camera shot but just standing listening to them as they cracked the pine cones was something special.

In the same area of the reserve there was a Wood Lark, it seemed to be attempting a song but it sounded as if it was a half-hearted attempt as he was only firing on one cylinder. He finally flew a circuit and three birders had visual confirmation.

On the way back to the car park I had another unsuccessful attempt at quality Treecreeper shots but again none of any worth. I decided to go into the visitor centre, mainly to get warm and as I arrived "Wal" the animatronic Water Rail put in an appearance so I duly recorded the event. This bird must surely be the most photgraphed Water Rail in the United Kingdom. The constant provision of dried mealworms has allowed him to overcome his shyness and he puts on a display several times a day.

Water Rail
Water Rail

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