Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pitsford Nature Reserve

After three weeks off for flu we made it back out today. We originally planned to do the second group of four tetrads for the BTO Bird Atlas survey but the forecast showed miserable weather in the afternoon so we switched to Pitsford. As soon as we entered the reserve we started seeing Fieldfares, we counted over 250 on the way round. Lots of wildfowl including Wigeon, Pochards, Shovellers, Great Crested Grebes, Gadwall, though the number of Pintails has reduced since our last visit. In one spot we counted 40 Ruddy Ducks. We stopped in the first hide, heading toward Scaldwell Bay as a large flock of Greylag Geese flew past:

In terms of raptors there were numerous Kestrels, this pair of juvenile Sparrowhawks fought for a bit, just clearing the covering trees:

And we encountered four Common Buzzards, disturbing one with a kill, which took off with breakfast and one being mobbed, shown here in flight and being harassed:

There were numerous Grey Heron’s, we counted at least twelve including a number airborne:

This gull was in the water as the path turns from to the Walgrave Arm from Scaldwell, it has been identified as a 2nd-year Greater Black-backed Gull, though we couldn’t ID it at the time, as in the differing light it also looks quite similar to a Lesser Black-backed Gull (thanks Neil):

The winter sun was very low and made it hard to get the photography right. You have to wait until the bird turns with the light on it, this Shoveller was about the fifth attempt but the only one with the light right:

We stopped for tea again in West Hide, overlook Walgrave Bay. We heard it before we saw it. I had to think - the sound was identical to the Raven we’d heard ‘clacking’ its bill in Yellowstone, and sure enough a big black bird was sat about 50 yards away on top of this tree, with a curious Rook perched lower (still some debate as to whether this bird is a Carrion Crow or a Raven):

From the hide we watched a group of Wigeon chasing each other in front of the hide, including these:

The Holcot Arm is the most enclosed and overlooked of the three arms of Pitsford, but this drake Scaup was showing relatively clearly, only the second time we’ve seen Scaup in the UK:

Pitsford was fantastic today. In addition to the above, we saw a Redshank, a Little Egret, Willow Tits, Goldcrests, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a pair of Goldeneye, 50 Redwings, Tree Sparrows at the feeding station and a Great Northern Diver that flew over to Scaldwell from the open part of Holcot.

Mammals included a Muntjac Deer and a Red Fox, the latter a particularly rust red, and much taller than the fox that's been popping in to our garden of a night...

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