Monday 3 September 2012

Hiding in the Lower Windrush Valley 02 September 2012

Well Sunday dawned dull, grey and drizzly. Already depressed by the grey gloom, rather than add to this by getting wet and frustrated I reasoned that viewing from some Hides would be the best option in such weather so I headed for Pit 60 where I knew there were two Hides and I had a key. The longish walk down the narrow paths to the Hides was enlivened by numerous warblers, mainly Blackcaps and Phylloscopus warblers 'tacking' or 'hooeeeting' away whilst feeding on elderberries in the bushes by the path. The warblers were moving along the hedgerows in roaming groups which is a familiar phenomenon at this time of year. One group was very large and moving surprisingly fast through the hedgerow. I estimated there must have been around fifty individuals at least in this group. Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and ChiffChaffs made up the bulk of the flock from what I could see but I counted at least two Garden Warblers and four Goldcrests with them plus the inevitable Blue Tits and Long tailed Tits. There is such energy in these groups, with birds whizzing in a constant stream across gaps in the hedge and a ceaseless movement of small shapes in amongst the vegetation. The Hides were, frankly, a disappointment and yielded very little apart from a Little Egret looking impossibly exotic on the muddy shore with its sulphur yellow feet and snow white plumes almost luminescent in the gloom. A couple of Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper gave the briefest of views before disappearing behind a muddy bank. All suitable expanses of water now seem to be attracting post breeding flocks of Coots and bored, I counted 142 feeding along the far shore by the reeds. So back to the car.The other Hide I had in mind was at Rushy Common and after a short drive I soon found myself ensconced in yet another deserted Hide looking over yet another expanse of open water but this time relatively Coot free. There were however at least 7 Red Crested Pochard in various parts of the lake with a group of 4 juveniles feeding together, a single eclipse male still with his rosy bill off to my left and a female  right in front of the Hide, who by upending was feeding on weed.

A raucous cackle came from the large Oak tree on the nearest island and there were a pair of Egyptian Geese having 'a domestic' about who was perching where in the tree. A pair of Great Crested Grebes attended their three half grown young which were still displaying their stripey faces and necks. A final scan of the lake and my eye just caught what I thought was a movement in the reeds on the far shore. I looked again but there was nothing. Had I imagined it? Was it just a feather blowing along the water? After what seemed an age but was only about five minutes a small duck slipped out of the reeds and fed along the edge. A Garganey! So a dull and somewhat depressing morning reached a little climax of pleasure at this find and just as I left the sun broke through.

1 comment:

  1. Another well written post and a good variety of Warblers, the Egyptian Geese and a Garganey made the effort well worth while.
    I think the high water levels at both these sites are restricting the Waders from the muddy conditions they require.