What a difference a day makes. Friday, we were bathed in glorious sunshine and today, the complete opposite. Undeterred by the conditions and lead by Neville, we all (three of us) made our way to the Bittern information point, where we were informed that they had all gone. Shame really as there are so many reeds there. The sights and sounds of the usual Magpies, Canada Geese, Collared Doves, Coots etc were all around. Then, a piece of magic – “Kingfisher”, shouts Hazel and we watched this small, majestic bird, fly downriver, then out of sight. We stopped to shelter from the rain by the lock and noticed a Rook in the fork of a tree, having its lunch. It looked like an apple, but difficult to say from our angle. Cormorants, Grey Herons, Black headed gulls were there to be seen.
Not far from the Orchid area, a Treecreeper was spotted by Neville. We stood transfixed, with a brilliant view of this lovely bird and only about twenty feet away from us!!! It then decided to flit between trees, but we managed to follow it and gain more views.
After this, Egyptians, Gadwalls, Tufted, Dunnock, Wren, Great Crested Grebe and Chaffinch were spotted.
On our way back, we passed through the visitor centre, where a Bittern was spotted – OK, it was stuffed and behind glass, but it was a Bittern.
Lunch followed, then we drove to the next car park and ventured out, in the pouring rain, towards the Grand Weir hide. On route, we stopped at the view point and Steve spotted another Kingfisher flying away from us, towards the far bank. It was there that we noticed what looked like a hybrid Mallard. It had a Mallard’s white wing bars, but the speculum was buff coloured. We were further confused when the bird kept diving underwater to resurface several feet away. It also performed the usual Mallard bobbing underwater, so, we can only surmise its breed.
Various calls were made by other birds. These sounded like Long tailed tits and other unknown species. At the weir hide, we found Little Egrets, Canada Geese, Cormorants, Black headed gulls, Lesser black backed gull and a Little Grebe. Just by the sailing area, an abundance of Sand Martins and a couple of Swallows, provided us with an unexpected aerial display.
The weather was getting the better of us, so we decided to call it a day. Even though the day was marred by the weather, we still managed to see 34 species.
Many thanks to Neville for leading.
Thanks to Steve and Hazel for writing the report. Steve explained that it was too wet to take photographs. So I have inserted an image of a kingfisher drawn by a pupil at one of our school events and an image that is the nearest I could find of a “white winged buff speculumed diving mallard duck” – where exactly is the speculum? A very very dodgy duck.