Sunday, December 30, 2007

2nd half of the 'twitch' weekend

We started at Titchmarsh Local Nature Reserve, close to Corby, seeking the Tundra Bean Goose. We headed clockwise on the path to get a view of the flock of geese, near the small island in the first lake. As I trained my scope on the flock, up popped the Black-necked Grebe. We watched the bird for about five minutes before it disappeared, and it didn't even occur to me to photograph it! It looks similar-ish to the (Slavonian) Horned Grebe (see below, Draycote Water in Autumn, October 2007) but with a long neck, taller profile in the water and the tell-tale darker neck band.

While watching this the flock of geese had glided away from us, so we decided to do a circuit of the reserve and try and pick them up on the other side.

We did finally pick up the right flock (there are three present) and locate the 'Tundra' Bean Goose, it's the smaller bird in front of the group on the left, with the pink mid section to the bill, in marked contrast to the brighter bills of the Greylags.

You can tell by the small size of this picture how far away the bird was. As well as the goose and the grebe, we counted four Green Woodpeckers, ten Goosander and watched a Kingfisher dazzle some ramblers.

Heading towards the exit of the reserve, a pair of Stonechats were flicking about in the plants along the riverbank, this female showing well:

From Titchmarsh we headed briefly to Kinewell Lake, where we spotted a female Brambling and a small flock of Siskin. On the lake itself was a gathering of approximately 60 Shoveller Drakes, which looked unusual.

As time was ticking by and we wanted to do a loop around the nature reserve at Pitsford we decided to head over. First stop this time was Holcot bay and the hide there, to watch these two drake Smew:

They hadn't been there long and didn't stay very long so we were lucky to see them and have the opportunity to photograph them. Smew are without doubt my favourite bird and I really look forward to seeing them each year now.

The overall numbers of wildfowl are significantly reduced from the beginning of December, I have no idea why? I snapped this Goldcrest hopping about busily looking for food:

We were just heading towards the causeway and leaving the reserve when a couple of birders pointed out the Red-crested Pochards they had been watching. We looked but we couldn't see them, but another birder who was heading out confirmed he'd seen them too. We've not spotted one yet this winter although they've been regularly reported there, we must have a Red-crested Pochard blindspot at the moment. Anyway after 23 miles of walking this weekend, in new boots, my feet need a rest...

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