Sunday, 14 December 2014

Three-in-one today. Leg o' Mutton, London Wetland Centre and Cranford Park

I was up early this morning to meet up with John Few. 
Our first stop was a new place for me, the Leg O' Mutton Nature Reserve near Hammersmith.  A Tawny Owl had recently been seen and we were hoping to see it too. Sadly although we found the right tree, the owl was not in it's usual place, so we dipped. But we did see some other lovely birds. 

There were a couple of Egyptian Geese up another tree.....


The lake was almost completely frozen over, so we watched several gulls walking on ice.....



Somehow Fewy managed to drop his camera without noticing (dont ask....!) and while he went running off back down the path to find it, I amused myself with taking photos of this obliging Great Tit.....


and this even more obliging Song Thrush....


We were only there for an hour but it's a place I want to revisit soon. From there we made our way to the London Wetland Centre for a much needed cup of coffee and breakfast. Our good friend, Phillip, was there as always and I told him I wanted to get a Bittern photo for today's blog post. More about that later....

From the Dulverton Hide we had great views of a Shoveller......


Phillip said a Bittern had been seen from the WWF hide yesterday, and as we made our way there we bumped into a couple of other local birders who had just seen it, but warned us the hide was packed. There was a visiting coach load of out-of-area birders who had taken all the seats so it was standing room only.
I'm going to have a bit of a grumble now. You could tell the people in the hide were not our regular birders, as they simply hogged all the hide windows and seats. When seeing a bird like the Bittern, it really is courtesy and polite, to get yourself a good view, take some photos, then move out of the way to let others have a chance of getting their own good views and photos too. There were several regulars who didnt get to see the Bittern because of this visiting coach load. I wish I'd now taken the trouble to find out where they had all come from, as I'd like to visit their patch and do to them, what they did to us today.
Anyway, rant over, I did manage to get some photos, but they were all taken through glass.............


 



 
Not long after my last shot, our Burt disappeared back in to the reeds.
 
Elsewhere on site Fewy and I got some nice views of one of the Cormorants...
 
 
and from the 1st floor of the Peacock Tower we got some cracking views of a perched female Sparrowhawk.......just a shame she chose to sit on the far side of the tree, behind many twiggy branches.......

 
Abundant all over were many Robins......

 
Fewy, Rick and I decided to leave the centre at lunchtime and spend the last couple of hours of daylight watching the Kingfishers at Cranford Park.
The resident female didnt disappoint and showed several times perched on the stone bridge.....
 

 
Despite it being the middle of December there were still some lovley fungi to be found at both the LWC and Cranford Park....


 
To end my long day, I was half way through writing my blog at home, when my laptop 'died'. I rebooted it several times to no avail, even removed and replaced the battery, still to no avail. I was going to be spending the evening at Mum's anyway, so left a little earlier than planned and finished off my blog on her laptop instead. I just hope when I get home, my own laptop is working or else it's going to be an expensive time for me !

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Kingfisher overload at Cranford Park

My intention today was to join the guided Winter Walk at Cranford Park. It seems my intention went a bit astray........
I was at the park early. It was very frosty but promised to be a glorious sunny day.....
 

 
I had decided to spend an hour or two looking for the Kingfishers after last Saturdays success before then joining the rest of the Cranford Park Friends group for the Winter Walk.
 It didn't take me long to find one of the Kingfishers, and I was soon happily snapping away.....
 



 
 
However, after watching it for a while by the stone bridge, I realised it was following a pattern. It appeared to be the same bird each time, a lovely female with the red on the bottom of its bill making it different in appearance to the male, who has an all black bill. She would appear from under the stone bridge, spend quite a lot of time fishing from the branches and twigs by the bridge, before then flying up to, and under, the iron bridge. Several times I followed her, twice accidently flushing her from a shrub next to the iron bridge before then following her back down to the river and starting the progress all over again.
It was whilst I was walking back to the stone bridge on one of those occasions, that I bumped into Tony James. He had seen our lovely Kingfisher sitting on one of the parapets of the stone bridge and was patiently waiting for it to show again. She didn't disappoint and was already perched ready to fish by the time Tony and I lifted our cameras. From then, we spent over another two hours watching and photographing this beautiful little bird, all thoughts of the Winter Walk had vanished (sorry Alison and Bob).
 
 So ready yourself for a complete Kingfisher overload......

 


 

 


 


 

 

 

 
We did see the male Kingfisher briefly as he flew past and was then joined by the female, both noisily heading for the iron bridge. Tony and I followed and didn't have to wait long on the bridge before the female flew over our heads and swerved right over the trees. For a millisecond we wondered where she was going, then she re-joined the river route and sped away, but we then realised she was being chased by a Sparrowhawk, who on seeing she was back over the water swerved left in to one of the copses. Now I've had time to think about it, the Kingfisher was probably saving its own life. A Sparrowhawk will chase and kill most small birds but only if it has ground to land on with its prey. It would not have been able to catch the Kingfisher and risk landing in the river.
 
It was just after that incident that we bumped into Mark Collins with his camera in hand. I was so confident that we would be able to show Mark a Kingfisher fishing that I said I'd give him a fiver if he didn't.........
 
I'm still a fiver up.....
 
Like with Sheila last Saturday, our gorgeous resident Kingfisher sat right in front of the three of us and gave outstanding views for at least twenty minutes before then flying to the stone bridge parapet and then flying back down river.
 
We all split up after that, with Tony and Mark going home and me going for a much neglected wander around the rest of the park.
 
I found a Song Thrush in the now berry deleted Yew in the church grounds....
 
 
And another one by the Info Centre.....

 
There were several Jays flying around today, plus this one sitting by the stable blocks...
 
 
In Cranford Woods I found a pair of marmite Parakeets 'bonding' (the male is at the top) ......
 


 
and one of many many Grey Squirrels. This one was systematically stripping the berries from a Holly shrub...
 
 
A few weeks ago I spotted and photographed some Stags Horn Fungus. When I went back to the same spot today, there was a lot more of it.....

 
And to top my day off, as I was leaving the park I happened to glance up to see one of the Little Egrets circling above which eventually headed back for the river. It will be interesting to see if the Egrets stay at the park.

 
No sign at all of the Little Grebes on the river, but the levels are fairly high so the Grebes may return once the water levels drop.
Also seen but not photographed today were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, one Green Woodpecker, c70 Jackdaws, four Stock Doves, two large Long-tailed Tit flocks (with one group containing two Goldcrests) and several singing Robins and Wrens.
 
So a great day out at the patch, even if I did miss the Winter Walk.
The only down side was no toilet. I've heard rumours that the new toilet block has been put out to tender. I just hope when ever it gets rebuilt, that it will be sooner rather than later. I'm getting a bit too old to be crouching behind logs and shrubs to take a pee !!!!