Am I dreaming, or is this really the 24th March ? It sure as duck doesn't feel like it, feels more like the 24th January !!!! Absolutely biting cold this morning as I made my way to the London Wetland Centre. And no sign of the great yellow orb. Met up with Elaine, John and Therese. Michael and Martin soon joined us, then Bernie and Jackie. Later in the day Sue joined us too, so a good day for a gossip, catch up, laugh and a chat, but a bad day for trying to take any decent photos.
High-lights of the day included seeing a Little Ringed Plover standing next to a Ringed Plover. Could really appreciate the size difference but way too distant to get any photos unless you had a digi-scoping kit. Two Dunlin showed really well for half an hour but we could not locate them later in the day. At least three or four individual Chiff Chaffs were also seen. Some of our sightings would have made fantastic photos had the sun been out, but today we had to make do with dark silhouettes and a flash of colour and eye stripe. Also had a Little Egret on the marsh. Quite a common sight now, but although you get the odd one at Barnes, they're not as common as Herons there. A small flock of four Goldfinches feeding on the ground with a Blackbird was nice to see, and a male and female Pintail later in the day was a nice find. But the biggest high-light for me, was hearing through the birders grapevine that a Wheatear had been spotted from the Wildside hide. The information was duly passed on between us all, and after lunch we all congregated on the hide.
|my first Northern Wheatear of the year|
|It got fairly close to the hide, but as the day went on it was seen further and further away.|
As always when there's a large group of us at Barnes, we tend to split up and re-meet around the site or back in the cafe. Elaine, Sue and I took ourselves off for a gander. One noticeable thing about today, was there were hardly any birds singing at all. The Little Grebes were 'trilling' and we heard one Cettis Warbler spit out a short sharp song, but no singing Robins, Blackbirds or anything really.
|Icicles !!!! In March !!!!!!!|
From the newly refurbed Headly Hide, we could see a lone Great Crested Grebe fast asleep bobbing about on the water. There was a lone Little Grebe nearby too, and within minutes the GC Grebe was heading very fast towards the Little Grebe. It took us a few moments to realise the Little Grebe had caught a rather large fish. The GC Grebe seemed intent on catching both of them !! Sadly my photo taking abilities failed at this stage. None of my pics of the GC chasing the L have come out, though I did get pics of the Little Grebe with its huge catch, and of it doing some fast and furious water-walking trying to get away from the GC Grebe !!
When I was at Barnes last week, there had been some wild Mandarins in some of the captive bird enclosures, and they were still there today. Some of the other captive swans and ducks were out of the water and milling around waiting for feed time from the keepers. One of the Coscoroba swans took a liking to Sues boots.
|Sue and her new friend|
|Elaine and her new friend|
|Sue and Elaine with friends :)|
So company-wise, it was a great day. Not only did we all have a good laugh, but every time I see John and Michael I learn something new. Their experience and knowledge in birding is fantastic. It was lovely to see Therese and Jackie again and honour my promise to buy them both a 'Hot Choc Indulgence'. Bernie and Martin were as funny as always. And what can I say about Elaine and Sue.....nothing except the Barnes Birds Rock Ok. Just a shame some of the other members couldn't join us today, but there will be other days.
Bird-wise I ticked four off my year list. Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Chiff Chaff and Northern Wheatear.
Photo-wise. Absolutely crap !! I yearn for a new camera body and that thing called the sun.