Monday, December 15, 2008

Sweeping Up

I'd achieved a everything I'd aimed for in my first 3 days Up North, and was realistic about the likelihood of keeping the run going, but the chance to visit Potteric Carr (tangled tale involving cars being serviced and Kay and her mum going to the Outlet Centre) drew me in. The usual targets of bittern and water rail being joined by the possibility of more waxwings, redpolls (I had no recollection of ever clearly recognising one, incredible though that feels to say) and maybe even a Caspian Gull (whatever that was).
First bird was a bittern, but sadly at longer range than so often here. Flew off the island quite soon and never came closer. From the hide I saw long tailed tits, a wren (rather spoilt by the cornflake), a redpoll (Yeah!) having a drink and a crossbill. Sadly the latter was attached to a robin, rather than being the 'usual' form (you'll need to look at the web album to see this clearly). Maybe they are adapting to the local conifers!
A distant cormorant caught a jack pike and rather impressively did a sort of sword swallowing manoeuvre to down it. I was going to mention deep throat, but this isn't that kind of blog.
Round to the feeding station, and the water rail obliged - they seem to like feeders and are also seen there at Slimbridge, Forest Farm in Cardiff and other wetland sites. This is probably the best way to see them in the open.
The direction of the light at the feeding station isn't ideal for photography, and the cloud closed in. These two shots of reed bunting look better on the web album, with a painterly quality to the colouring. Then a redpoll showed at a horribly awkward angle and straight into the light, so poor picture, but a beautifully coloured bird. Didn't get better view really, and the identification of redpolls seems quite complex, with perhaps 5 forms, but it did have quite a lot of white and I wonder if this is the 'mealy' form.
Round the corner a lesser redpoll fed at some distance, and the trees boasted some attractive fungi - hoof and, I think, birch polypore. Finally candle snuff fungi - shame I hadn't brought the macro lens.
And the Caspian Gull? I was shown it through a scope. A large form of herring gull. Good looking bird, but I guess one for the 'gull-watchers' out there, more than someone like me who sits with a bird book to work out first winter or second winter forms, etc. Maybe if the house overlooked the sea .....
As always better views on the web albums HERE

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