In search of... Black-necked Grebes
If i can, I like to get out for an hour Sunday mornings to check the pools at the east end of the reserve (a) because it doesn't take long and I don't usually have more than an hour on site and (b) because I tend to spend most time in the week at the other end of the patch - usually somewhere between Bob's Bridge and Halfway House (see other postings). So today, typical Sunday circuit. I usually start at the Eastern Reedbed (ERB) and end up at Birchwood Pool (BWP). SO, what was about?
The track to the Eastern Reedbed
Singing as I head up the track to the hide...Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Wren, Reed Warbler and a distant Chiffchaff.
Eastern Reedbed (ERB)
Eastern Reedbed - The Mute Swans have finally hatched their brood of nine on ERB. Other birds? Just male Mallard and 2 Coots. No sign of any Pochard still knocking around, nor Tufties, nor Little Grebe - all of which may well be there, just tucked at the back of the reeds. Pochard stayed until 22nd May last year so it'll be interesting to see if they hang around again this year.
Millbrook Pool (MBP) sometimes called 'The Lagoon'
Millbrook Pool - 8 Canadas including a pair with a brood of three, yellow goslings feeding on the wet flush. Pair of Great Crested Grebe, couple of pairs of Gadwall, pair of Oystercatcher, 1 Lapwing, a couple of Magpie over, a Mute Swan and a few Coots are today's tally.
Firecrest Alley (FA)
Firecrest Alley and the Black Fields - 2 Raven just over, calling away... and a couple of crows. Two Common Swift high over ERB. Reed Warbler chunnering away at top end of Firecrest Alley. Wren singing. Blackbird over. Pheasant just called. Another Reed Warbler. Clouding over. No sign of the usual Blue Tits in the Hawthorn. Can hear Canada Geese. No sign of any Hirundines.Very quiet.
8:34 walking up the little rampy bit at the east end of FA on to black fields to see if there is any sign of the Buzzards today and if there’s anything on the new muddy diggings at the east end. male Pheasant just flown off. And there’s one of the Buzzards. It’s a bit soggy up ere. Sedge Warbler. Grasshopper Warbler. Common Whitethroat. And a ‘chek’ of a Great Spotted Woodpecker... surprisingly. There’s a Robin singing left and a distant Blackcap right. Willow Warbler and another Wren left. Just coming up to the scrapings and... pair of Shelduck like last time... and there they go... like last time. Scanning with the bins reveals... mud. That’s it. Oh and, some water. But not a lot of that. Double check... yep. Dead as the proverbial doornail. Now, I had high hopes for this little muddy dugout at the start of the year, especially as I had Little Ringed Plover here the first time I checked it for passage waders on April 13th. But since then? Ne pas de sausage! Oh hang on... Kestrel has just flown low left carrying a vole... and... there's the first hirundine of the morning... lone Swallow over. Only other birds apart from the aforementioned songsters are a couple of Dunnocks getting jiggy among the brambles. Otherwise very little about. Pumphouse next I think.
Pumphouse Pool - from the east hide
Pumphouse Pool - East Hide 8:50 - I really hope they don’t give these hides daft names. So much easier using compass directions. Pumphouse east. Pumphouse west. Birchwood Pool east. Birchwood Pool west. Birchwood Pool south. Lapwing Lake east. Lapwing Lake south. Lapwing Lake north – simples... assuming you know where the East (ern Reedbed) is of course. So what do we have this morning? Carrion Crow. 8:50 ... pair of Shoveler? Nope male Shoveler and eclipsing Gadwall looks like. Hmmm, thought all the Shoveler had gone. Male Mallard, Shelduck asleep and a single BHGull. Male Lapwing again, which could actually be standing sentinel I guess as he’s often here. Maybe he has a female on eggs among the veggies. Time will tell. What else have we got? Canada Goose. Coot. 2 pairs of Tufties... another Coot... another Coot... another Coot.... and... another Coot. Woodpigeon in the corner where the Little Egret was the other day... and that’s it. Nothing on the posts, which ought to hold stuff really because they look ideal for a small flock of Whiskered Terns to perch on! Scoping the bankside veggies yielded nothing else – very quiet today. Oh... here we go, big whizz of hirundiney things have just come in... 11 Common Swift (none of them Pallid), 4 Swallows (none of them Red-rumped) and 8 House Martins, which now officially becomes my biggest 2010 flock... I think... There’s also 2 Chaffinches singing, a Song Thrush repeating itself and a Willow Warbler chipping in. A couple of Jackdaws over, a Moorhen ‘kurruuuk-ing’, a Woodpigeon singing and a Reed Warbler has just started up in the small fringe of reeds to the left of the hide. That just about does it for Pumphouse I think... On to Birchwood Pool to see what the Black-necked Grebes are up to.
South path to Birchwood Pool east hide
9:04 So, park up and walk along the south path in Birchwood. Heading west towards the east hide. Wren. Chaffinch. Blackcap. Carrion Crow. Willow Warbler. Blue Tit over... but no Great Tits – which is unusual as they’re usually hooching around here. Probably feeding young. Song Thrush. Robin. A couple of Blackbirds singing and it's...
Birchwood Pool - from the east hide
Birchwood Pool - 9:11 East hide, or, in shorthand... BWP(E). And I give you... a pair of Mallard, a female Gadwall, 3 Coots, a pair of Oystercatchers, which probably came from Millbrook... male Gadwall, a couple of Canada Geese on the east tip of the big island (BI), Mute Swan, Grey Heron, another Coot, but no obvious sign of any grebes, let alone black-necks. Hmmmmm. Time to scope! 13 Sand Martins, 7 Swallows. Pair of Mallard at W end with a brood of 5 duckings. Aha... pair of Great Crested... so there ARE grebes about. Pair of Tufties, pair of Gadwall but still no Black-necks... or Little Grebes come to that. Scope again... Little Grebe (NW corner)... and... a PAIR of Little Grebes. Good. Another Mallard brood. This time 5 bigger ducklings (probably 1/3rd grown) with their mum, just below the hide, 2 Coots on nests, another pair of Canadas on the W shore and another pair of Tufties. Right. Off to the south hide as the BNGs could be tucked in on the W side of BI, which I can’t see from here.
Birchwood Pool - south hide
9:21 arrive at south hide. Jay and a couple of House Martins have just flown in, but, still no sign of the BNGs. Pair of Shelduck just crashed in on the small island (SI). 7 LBBG there too, a Moorhen with a chick and that's about it! All quiet on the eastern front...