First off just wanted to tell you how my second bird ringing session at Bedfont Lakes went last Sunday. In my overly keen state I some how managed to be a whole 20 minutes early (like 7.30am isn’t early enough for a Sunday morning!) which meant I got to hang out in the car park whilst the sun slowly rose, shortly followed by a Buzzard overhead – already I was thinking that the day had definitely been worth getting out of bed for! It was a frosty morning but I was extra prepared in my new thermal fingerless gloves (easier when handling equipment etc), thermal socks and tea flask; all vital winter bird ringing equipment!
My trainer then arrived shortly followed by the others and, after having to push one car out of the mud and transfer all the gear to another with 4×4, we slowly got started. It was a lot quieter then the week before (see here!), I asked if that might be due to the cold and was told that actually the weather didn’t seem to have anything to do with it – some weeks you get loads of birds, some weeks you don’t! Still I got to do a fair bit of handling; mostly Blue tits, Great tits and a feisty Robin that managed to escape the grip of my skinny fingers (not hard!) and fly off to a nearby tree where it sat staring mockingly at me 😉
It was only my second week and I was very chuffed when I managed to get my first wing measurement correct. Getting the bird, wing and ruler in the right position is harder than they make it look!
Last week I also managed to get down to Staines Moor where I saw a flock of at least 70 Fieldfare
Imagine this, but times by 70…… It occurred to me after I should’ve got a photo of the whole flock 😉
I also got brilliant views of a male and female Stonechat, a Buzzard, 5 Little Egret and 30+ Meadow pipit which I spent a good while following around trying to spot a possible Water pipit or 2 amongst them as I know they have been seen there recently. Next time!
I’ve also made the most of the sunny mornings this week and made a couple of visits to Kempton Nature Reserve.
Kempton Nature Reserve – view from the west hide
Perhaps this view doesn’t compare to the tranquil lochs and glens of the Scottish Highlands or the majestic lakes of the Lake District….. OK it doesn’t AT ALL. But my point is it means something to me and it never fails to put a smile on my face and a calm feeling in my belly, especially on a sunny day!
OK this is all getting a bit too poetic, back to the birds……..
I saw all the usual suspects – Gadwall
Teal, Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting……
Male Reed bunting
I see up to 10 and some times more of these guys most times I visit – the warden puts out a feeder filled with millet for them and they absolutely love it. They’ve started doing some bird ringing there on a Saturday and I’m told they caught 18 individual Reed buntings in one morning!
And on Monday, as well as 5 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing I managed to spot 3 Lesser Redpoll
Can you spot it? 😉 it’s the slightly forked tail that first caught my eye. Then later on I got excellent views of what I presumed to be the same individuals bathing in a puddle semi-hidden amongst some trees. They didn’t seem to have any idea I was hiding just around the corner and managed to get some fantastic views through the branches of one having a good preening session – lovely intimate moment. Chuffed as these aren’t regularly spotted at this site, I’ve only seen them there once before.
One last thing…. In light of the forecasted heavy rain and hail storm I spent a good hour this morning debating whether to cycle or get the bus to London Wetland Centre where I volunteer every Friday. In the end I opted for the cycle, as I always knew I would. Funnily enough I didn’t get even a little bit wet – in fact the sun came out! After arriving my friend texted me saying he was going to also be at the wetlands that day collecting Backswimmers for an experiment. Shortly after I was told that the reserve warden was off sick so that meant no cutting down endless amount of willow (that’s not ALL we do…. promise!) and instead I got to do a bit of pond dipping followed by some bird watching!
The result was lots of oohing and aahing at Backswimmers (they’re so shiny!), admiring some diving beetles (I think this species) and my first Brambling! Beautiful birds, love the contrast of the white belly and dark markings.
So after writing this blog post my life seems even more exciting than I thought! What I don’t mention is the endless job and PhD searching and applications 😉
Still, I can’t complain!
Until next time….