Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Another Try for the Beardies at Rainham Marshes

11th June 2015

The young Bearded Tits at Rainham should all have hatched and fledged by now so time for another attempt to get some photos. I had hardly left the ramp outside the visitor centre when I was confronted by a very vocal Sedge Warbler, which was so engrossed in his song that he seemed oblivious to my presence allowing me to get within 8 yards.

Just a short way further on by the Purfleet Hide a Wren had similar ideas. In fact it was singing so intently that it sung itself to sleep!!

Continuing on along the track what was noticeable compared to my last visit was the increase in insect life, particularly butterflies and dragonflies. The first one to pose was a Large Skipper, my first for the year, quickly followed by a Black-tailed Skimmer and a Four-spotted Chaser. Always nice to have some variation from birds.

As for my last visit the Redshanks were keeping an eye out for potential threats to their chicks and spent most of the time patrolling the area, calling as they went. When the danger had passed they returned to their electric anti-fox fence to check on the wiring.

Unfortunately, mainly due to the stiff breeze, there were only a couple of Bearded Tits showing rather badly deep down in the vegetation so I continued on the the Butts Hide. Just as well I did as just outside on the bramble was a family of Linnets with some affording good views. This young one was particularly tame.

But the star of the show today was the cracking male that eventually put in an appearance to show off all his summer finery. What an absolute beauty!!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Ospreys at Rutland Water

10th June 2015

The middle of June so time for a visit to Rutland Water to see and hopefully photograph the Ospreys. We headed straight for the Shallow Water Hide and en route managed to connect with Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer. The Yellowhammer, although very vocal, was fairly shy and preferred to remain hidden in the foliage at the top of an Ash tree. When we did eventually arrive at the hide we were surprised to find that we had the place almost to ourselves, and therefore we were able to choose our positions before settling down for a long wait.

Conditions were just right with lots of sun coming from behind the hide and a lot of bird activity in front to entertain us while we were waiting for the Ospreys to perform. There were lots of Black-headed Gulls patrolling up and down hawking insects off the algae and their more delicate and gracious cousins the Common Terns were searching for fry in the shallows.

This female was too lazy to look for her own food so just kept on begging food from her partner.

I think this is the most black and white Pied wagtail I have ever seen so no doubt about the sex. Amazing contrast with the slimy-green algae.

Wildfowl were well represented with this female Gadwall and a female Shoveler which was escorting her brood of eleven ducklings.

Just to the right of the hide a pair of Great Crested Grebes were playing mums and dad around a nest. The nest was not finished and was certainly empty, so it is not clear whether this was a pair having a late second attempt or a young pair just practising for next year. Just looking at the size of that webbed foot it is not hard to see how that can swim so fast underwater.

A Lapwing appeared to be holding territory nearby but for me the most exciting arrival was a small party of Sand Martins which after they had finished their insect hunting thought it would be a good idea to sit on the barbed wire fence and have a preen. This was rather special for me as they were the first Sand Martins that I have ever photographed at close quarters.

But now to the business in hand, the Ospreys. When we arrived in the hide both birds were sitting on the nest with little activity, apart from a few flaps and changes in position.

However, eventually the male did go for a fly-about and came back with..........a twig. The female looked very impressed. In fact all the time we were there he brought in a twig several times but never a fish. Probably not necessary as there was already a large fish lying in the nest which they snacked on throughout the day.

Well, what a fantastic day and another successful annual pilgrimage to this most fantastic reserve. Not only were the Ospreys entertaining as usual but there was also a very cooperative supporting cast allowing some close-up photography. I will definitely be back next year.