Sunday, February 04, 2007

Draycote Water

A beautiful winters day in early February, excellent light and a chilly -2c, perfect walking and birding weather! We set off to Draycote not really knowing what to expect. When you get there the first impression is how few wildfowl there are around. We paid for our parking and then headed round clockwise from the visitors centre. Most of the way to the first causeway and even half-way along it we were sure it was going to be a quick 5-miles around, as there was really very little on the water and only a few garden-type birds in the hedeges and trees.

It was none-the-less a beautiful day, so I stopped to take this snap across the water, at the start of the first causeway:

Walking towards the end of this causeway we spotted a funny looking Cormorant, pale chested, but the same size. I took a couple of snaps as it was up close anyway then spotted these Goosanders a little way behind:

Two males and a female (brown head) showing well here, though about as far away as I can usefully snap at the moment. There was definitely something strange about the Cormorant though, still close by, the straight beak and the markings on the back, so I took a couple more photos and reached for the bird guide. It's a Great Northern (Loon) Diver, a new bird! We we're chuffed to bits at how close this was and how good the snaps turned out to be:

We tracked it along the causeway for about fifteen minutes as it dived and snorkelled alongside:

This is the best snap of the lot:

Round the corner and into a small wooded area this Wren was showing very well although briefly, before flitting off:

We'd also seen a number of Wren's busy amongst the stones on the side of the causeway. Once you're beyond half way around it has quite a different feel to it, quiet and secluded. As you head back to the visitor centre though the number of people starts to pick up again.

About three-quarters of the way around, we spotted this Smew drake, without doubt one of my favourite birds:

I marvel at their plumage, their energy levels and just how distinctive they are. This chap was keeping close to a couple of Goldeneye and with all the human activity was staying distant, but an excellent way to round off what had been a very rewarding walk!


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