Saturday, 8 March 2014

Blackcaps and Chiffs

Today was supposed to be warm and sunny, shame about the misty start and cold wind all day.
Went down to Amwell and was struck by the amount of bird song as I got out of the car-Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch. I had only got a few yards up the track when I heard a Blackcap singing behind the horse paddock and moments later my first singing Chiffchaff above my head in the trees. A second Chiff and two more Blackcaps were heard before I got to the level crossing. Almost felt like spring had arrived and then I got to the cold and breezy watchpoint and it went downhill for a bit.
Tony pointed out the Redshank on the island-water levels slowly dropping so more is being exposed every visit and mud is starting to appear around the reeds now. Snipe are becoming more visible as a result, but the Oystercatchers seem to be spending most of the time further south now. Tony saw the Bearded Tit fly across from one patch of reeds to another on a couple of occasions but it kept very low and vanished into the reeds. Pity as several people had yet to see it, including Julie who arrived soon after.
Everyone wandered off and I stuck it out for a bit but the Bearded never showed so I went down into the woods where one or two more Chiffchaffs were singing. A couple of Siskin still present, and over the bridge, one Bullfinch was seen.
Joined up with Julie, and went down to the Hollycross feeders but things are getting a bit quiet there now, so we made our way back bumping into Mick Cotton. Julie had seen the Bittern at the Water Vole pit earlier , but it had not been seen since, so Mick and I went into the James Hide for a while. Two Cetti's were busy fighting, very vocally and we both tried to get images. At one point one was sitting on the fence but Mick just could not get a clear shot and while I had sustained views the birds were always obscured.

After a while we went back to the watchpoint where there was a bit of a crowd. Had a couple of Kites prospecting over the woods, which upset the Buzzard pair that wanted the same spot. Also one or two displaying Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel, plus many more Buzzards to the north.
Wildfowl numbers diminishing rapidly now, one pair of Teal and a couple of Goldeneyes being virtually all thats left of the winter visitors. Still reasonable numbers of Gadwall and Shoveller though.
Around 1145 I thought I heard a brief ping, and saw a movement in the reeds. Moving down I waited, keeping an eye on the right hand patch and about five minutes later the Bearded Tit flew out about a foot above the water and into the small reed clump in front of us where it promptly vanished again. Luckily a few present managed to see it this time.

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