Friday, 8 May 2015

Two Hours to Kill in Stevenage - Time for a Visit to Fowlmere

28th April 2015

Normally when I have a couple of hours to kill in Stevenage I go to Deadman's Hill and Coombe Road to look for raptors. However, that is in the winter and at this time of year, although there will lots of jangling Corn Buntings, chortling Sky Larks and twittering Linnets, there will be little else. So off to Fowlmere which is just 20 minutes away.

I headed straight for the reed bed hide hoping to hear and/or see a Turtle Dove or Barn Owl but no such luck. There was no sign of any Turtles and the Barn Owl, although visible, was buried deep in its box. However, half way up the track to the hide I came face-to-face with a Grey Heron perched on top of a Elder bush, which flew after I taken a couple of shots.

I wasn't too surprised to see it standing on a water gauge just in front of the hide. Not only was this a convenient perch but, although the water was over a foot below you, was also a convenient place from which to fish.

As is often the case at Fowlmere, the best place for bird photography is the car park. Today was no exception with a number of phylloscs hew-eeting from the bushes. The first bird to come into view was a Chiffchaff which moved steadily through the bush, sometime moving to the edge to provide a quick opportunity for a shot.

But the star of the show today was this superb singing Willow Warbler, which looked resplendent in the sun against the freshly-emerging foliage of a Lime tree. These birds are nowhere near as common as they used to be as, in this part of the world these days, Willow Warblers tend to be passage migrants rather than a breeding species.

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