Sunday, April 07, 2013

The best morning's birding

Sleepy barn owls
This morning I woke in good time to head off to our local RSPB reserve, Fowlmere, before 10am. It's a popular place on a Sunday, and though I love to see whole families enjoying this lovely reserve, a herd of people does tend to fright the wildlife a bit more than a few individuals.

I was lucky enough this morning to meet the reserve Warden, who was out and about doing some general maintenance and also on the lookout for anything interesting. The first thing he pointed out to me was some bullfinches - I could hear them but not see them. A quick fly-past and that was it, but at least I saw them. I haven't seen them since I was 16. Then, some redpoll, hopping around a bush above our heads.

Water rail
I was given a delightful display by a family of long-tailed tits, heard my first chiffchaffs (they are two weeks late coming to the UK this year, and who can blame them with our weather this year) and - most exciting for me - the water rail. We (the warden, myself and some others) were in the reedbed hide and a pair of snipe, really close, were pointed out to me. I looked across to see the moorhen strutting about in the sunshine, but it wasn't a moorhen at all - it was the water rail! I've been to Fowlmere many, many times, and this was the first time I have even seen one and in brilliant sunshine, in the open.  I also saw a tree creeper, chaffinch and a party of jays.

My walk round was punctuated by the rattle of a woodpecker, the laughter of a green woodpecker in the fields, and the 'yak yak yak' of a bird I have yet to identify. The woods and the reeds were alive
with birdsong - spring is truly here. The robins, dunnocks and blackbirds were singing full belt, the greylag geese arguing in the fields and on the lake, and the gadwall, Canada geese, mallard and swan serenely enjoying the sun on the water. A small muntjack deeer watched me cautiously, a grey squirrel shot across the path, and the sound of fallow deer moving through the reeds provided animal variety.

This, for me, was the perfect way to be alone, because how can you be alone when surrounded by so much amazing wildlife, and the odd enthusiastic birder as well.
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