I will be mentioning a lot of hides and places at the London Wetland Centre in today's blog, so for people who are not familiar with this WWT centre, I have attached a link to a map of the site, so at least you get a rough idea of what I am talking about.
I have a routine when I go the LWC on my own. Once I've gone through the entrance and had my membership card swiped, I always stop in the courtyard to get out my bins and camera, clean them and then decide which way to go. To the left is the World Wetlands which leads onto the Wildside, to the right is the Waterlife side with the most hides. And straight in front is the café. If I'm with other people when I go to the LWC, the café is generally the first port of call.
I didn't have to go far to spot my first photogenic bird. The resident Pied Wagtails have nested again behind the clock in the courtyard. It was lovely watching both parents flying behind the clock with beaks full of food.
|spot the Pied Waggy|
|and going in.|
I decided to head straight for the Wildside today. It was announced yesterday that one of the nesting Little Grebe pairs had successfully hatched at least two eggs. There are two pairs nesting in both channels by the Wildside hide. However en route there, I got distracted by a pair of Long-tailed Tits very active by the Lodge. It didn't take long to chance upon a nest, so I settled myself a discreet distance away and watched both parents bringing in lots of food.
|how many insects can you fit in your beak ?|
Like last week, the sounds of Warblers were every where. I'm only just starting to recognise a Cettis compared to a Reed, but trying to see any of them is almost impossible.
The Little Grebes in the middle channel have their nest tucked out of view, but you can just about see it with bins. I watched as the adults done a change over, and could clearly see at least two chicks, with at least two more eggs still to hatch. These chicks are barely two days old, so not out in the water yet with their parents. In the first channel, the one nearest the Wildside hide, are the pair I watch mate on my last visit. They had built three 'platforms' then, so I was interested to see if they had built another, or if they had decided to make their nest on one of the three. They had. The second 'platform' had obviously had a lot more material added to it over the week, and I found both adults asleep on it. However when both got off to go hunting, it was clear there were no eggs in the nest, and the height of it is nowhere near as high as the successful Little Grebes in the next door channel. So will they choose another site, or carry on using that nest ? They didn't seem keen to add to it whilst I was there, they spent most of their time together feeding.
I had a quick lunch in the café, then made my way to the Waterlife side. By the Peacock Tower there are two families of Canada Geese, both with goslings. You can tell by the difference in size of the goslings, that the pair with just two youngsters hatched theirs earlier than the pair with the five goslings. Plenty of photo opportunities here !! The parents are quite obliging, but get too close and you will be hissed at. I'm not stupid, I know when to give a family of geese a wide berth, but it was quite amazing to watch some other people almost nose to nose with the goslings, then wonder why the parents were making threatening gestures !
The photos below are a comparison of Canada goslings to a Greylag gosling. The Greylags were wandering around outside the Headley Hide.
|The older goslings - Canada Geese|
|A similar aged gosling - Greylag|
Also found on the path back from the Wildside, was this solitary Lapwing. I watched it for a long time, concerned it may be injured, as its quite unusual to see them on the paths. They're normally on one of the many islands on the Main Lake or Waderscrape. I was just about to phone the LWC office number and ask someone to come out, when two young kids ran at the poor bird and it flew off. The fact it flew re-assured me but the fact the two Mums with the kids had already watched me kneeling on the ground studying the bird and taking a few snaps (to zoom in on to see if there were any obvious injuries) did not re-assure me. Why, at a Nature Reserve, would you let your children chase birds !!??!!? Beyond belief.
Back by the Wildside hide, I amused myself for over an hour trying to photograph the Swifts and House Martins screeching and calling above me. I managed 95 out of focus shots, but did get some success with the two below.
|This is not a bullet.....this is a House Martin|
Just in front of Rattys in the Wildside, I heard Cetti Warblers calling, and after waiting patiently for a while, finally managed to photograph one.
By the Wildside gates, a Blackbird pair had fledged their fist brood. The fledglings were calling very loudly, so I waited a good distance away to watch Mum come in and feed them.
|Mum and youngster|
Back by the Peacock Tower, myself and another photographer had some great views of a female Kestrel hunting. She swooped down, got something and then settled on a perch by the bench to eat. We didn't dare get to near in case we spooked her, so no clear indication of what she caught. I presumed it would be a small vole or mouse, but the other photographer thinks she somehow managed to grab a Moorhen chick. Whatever it was, it didn't satisfy her hunger, she was soon hunting again and we had some wonderful close up views of her hovering. Sadly there were dark clouds, so all my photos came out as silhouettes. However the last photo, I lightened whilst I was uploading it, not something that I normally do, but it just showed how close this beautiful little falcon was.
|Mrs Kes on post eating|
|Mrs Kes hovering in front of me.|
Another Little Grebe pair are in the small channel in front of the Peacock Tower, but despite searching with my bins, I could see no signs of any nest.
In front of the Dulverton Hide, I found an old friend, the nasal saddled male Tufted Duck. Nathalie M had already said she had seen him with a female, and so did I. So even though this form of 'tagging' a duck does nothing for its appearance, it certainly isn't stopping this male from hopefully starting a family soon.
Not many opportunities to photograph butterflies today. Although the sun did come out several times, it was so blustery that not many little flutters were settling down. I managed to get a few shots of the lovely male Orange-tip though.
Back in the café for a coffee later, I decided to give myself a boost. After last weeks visit I had e-mailed my Holly Blue butterfly photo to Jamie Wyver at LWC, and he had it placed on the monitor screen in the café. So here it is....
|my name on the Big Screen at last|
|The full picture|
So despite being very windy, some sunny intervals and a short sharp spell of rain, it wasn't a bad day at the LWC today. Saw my friend John briefly, and bumped into another regular, Chris. Other news from the site today were confirmed sightings of at least two broods of Lapwing chicks, a Peregrine falcon, a Common Snipe and a Redshank. Mute Swans are still on eggs, as are a few Canada geese. The Tern Rafts seem to have been taken over by Black-headed gulls but a few Common Terns can still be seen around the site. Some Mallard ducklings are around, but no Tufted ducklings yet.
So to end my lengthy blog today, a few 'awwwwwww' photos of the Canada goslings....
|Aerobics anyone ?|