Thursday, 17 January 2008

A fine days birding





After 4 months away from birding (moving home and reinventing my business) the thought of a days birding with my brother sometimes felt like it would never happen. Well, yesterday it finally did and it was great!
The day started in Hockley Woods looking for the Hawfinch and Lesser spotted woodpeckers.
Neither appeared, but we were not downhearted. After hours of dedication last winter we had seen both birds and weren't feeling the pressure. We did see/hear some fine Song Thrushes, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and a tree creeper. I practised my low light photography on the Redwings shown here.
Our plan B for seeing a Hawfinch was to stop at Braxted Hall (on our way up to Abberton) where numerous Hawfinches had been reported in recent years. Alas, we did not see a Hawfinch but were compensated with a cracking view of 2 handsome male Bullfinches and a pair of Buzzards. Braxted Hall had the 'feel good' factor and I'm sure will be a traditional stop off for future trips north.
We continued our journey north to Abberton Reservoir.
On previous visits to the reservoir we had concerntrated on the visitor centre and the hides there. This time we discovered just how good the 2 causeways spanning the reservoir were.
With a little bit of help we found the full set of Smews (drake, red head and juv) (drake pictured). Somehow, Paul found the 4 White Fronted Geese facing away from us in a field full of Greylags (see goose bum shot!). Both these birds were lifers for us both. I had 2 more lifers in the shape of a Goosander and an Egyptian Goose. We stayed at the most Westerly causeway until sundown. We had been told there was a chance of seeing a Bittern coming into roost. The Bittern didn't show, but while we were waiting Paul had a Kingfisher fly into his scope's eye view and we enjoyed the spectacle of every other bird positioning themselves for nightfall (including pictured heron). There on the causeway the dusk was still and eerily summer-like and with the sun, all the stress of the last 4 months disappeared, and I remembered why I love birding so much.

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