Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Monday 23rd. January ( Part 2 )

Well , for once the weather forecast was spot on , with the rain arriving just about 8 o'clock , and with it lightly to continue all day , there will be no outing for me today , so getting on with yesterday : Heading for the Tower Hide , good numbers of Chaffinches were found , mostly feeding on the ground , and even though they were all scanned , again , no sight of a Brambling . Just before the hide , a small flock of Redwing flew along the East Lake and shortly afterwards , the 'chak chak' of Fieldfares were heard beyond Slingsby Hide . First look from the hide produced 2 Teal , 2 Mallard a Coot and a Moorhen in the small bay directly below and 2 more Coot and 3 Tufted Ducks in the distance , where the reedbed meets the lake . Not very exciting , until I noticed a bird drift out from behind the reedbed and attempt to take over the occupancy of a floating log from one of the Coots . With vegetation in front , even with binoculars I couldn't make it out . I stayed put , and after a
while , this bird relinquished the log , and moved out into open water to have a wash and brush up , and could be identified as a female/redhead Goosander . After getting the drake a few visits ago , I
had read that up to three redheads had been seen , so it was good to finally catch up with one of them . It soon became apparent why it was keeping tucked away originally , as it seemed to attract
the attention of every gull that was in the air , here repelling another attack . It would have been nice if it had been a bit closer , but beggars can't be choosers . Whilst watching the Goosander , I caught a fleeting glimpse of a bird landing in a tree over by Slingsby hide , but it was too fleeting to get an
ID . I took a very long range shot of the tree , then hot-footed it over to Slingsby Hide , by which time of course , it had moved on . I suspected a Sparrowhawk , being as I had already had two sightings around Willow Hide , but cannot be sure . Thanks to Marianne and Warren for confirming my suspicion . The 'sentry' was on duty at Slingsby Hide , and in the tallest tree around , a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming his heart out , against a grey
sky , and being answered by another , somewhere back over by the Public Hide . From the hide , a Kingfisher 'flyby' , one of four today , but I didn't manage a shot from any of them . Heading back towards the car , large numbers of Lords and Ladies / Arum maculatum are already well above
ground level , and other species like Nettles , Ground Ivy and Cow Parsley are pushing through well too . I hadn't taken lunch with me , but I had put a banana and an energy bar in the car before leaving , and made do with that , as something was telling me to have another look at Willow Hide before leaving , encouraged by a couple of birders saying that they had several Kingfisher views from that hide . I gave Carter Hide a quick look , but apart from another Kingfisher sighting as soon as I arrived over the far side of the lake , it was just Coot , Moorhen and Tufted Ducks to show . Having found the Lords and Ladies earlier , I also had a look for a Winter Spring fungus that is found on the site . Although they are still young and small specimens , these Scarlet Elf Cups / Sarcoscpha
coccinea , they certainly brightened up a grey day .Arriving at Willow Hide , no the Bittern wasn't out on display again , but a small window of less grey sky enhanced the colours on two of the more
common species here , in the form of a drake Gadwall and a drake Teal , in a very fetching 'looking
over the shoulder' pose . Another birder made a short visit to the hide , informing me that he had just seen a Water Rail outside , but it had been spooked by a pair of Mallard , so I'm still waiting to see one here this Winter . Back on my own again , I was just about to pack in , when a bit of disturbance
started , just to the left of the island . I could see that a Cormorant was involved and it looked as if it had brought something up from underwater . I couldn't make out exactly what it was , but from distance it looked like a plastic bag or such . There ensued a lot of thrashing about and diving to
retrieve whatever it was , until the Cormorant reared up out of the water , with a very large fish in it's bill . There then followed an amazing period when the Cormorant charged around with the fish , which I could now see was a good sized Pike , that reminded me of the comedy act where a chap
dances with a doll which is attached to his feet , whilst at the same time , trying to swallow the Pike , that's the Cormorant , not the chap with the dancing doll . All this lifting and 'dancing' was obviously taking it out of the Cormorant , as several times it had to drop the Pike , take a breather , then dive down to retrieve it . I was beginning to think that with all the commotion , a Grey Heron or
something was going to enter the story , and probably make off with the Cormorant's intended meal . At one point , the Cormorant had well over half the fish in it's mouth , but the problem was , how was it going to get the other half in , especially as the bird was sinking under the weight of the Pike . When a second Cormorant turned up , the first spat out the Pike and it appeared as if they had a bit of a tussle underwater , with the Pike floating to the surface . When both Cormorants returned to the surface , they both swam away from the area reaching the middle of the lake , before both started diving some distance apart . The Pike seemed to just drift towards the left side of the island , totally ignored by both , so perhaps a Grey Heron did have the last laugh , and a full belly to boot . The moral of the story must be 'the eye is bigger than the belly' or in this case , the mouth . At the second time of trying , I got back to the car and this time headed home , stopping just briefly on the track out
to photograph one of a handful of Redwings high up in an ever gloomier sky .
And finally , whilst I was at Sevenoaks , Carol had 11 Fieldfares , on/around the Cotoneaster bush
next door , and this morning , in even worse light , five came back for breakfast , and I managed a shot of four of them . Later in the morning , the screeching of Rose-ringed Parakeets announced their
arrival above the berries , and I managed the same number of them in the frame .
Hedgelaying again tomorrow and probably Friday , but might manage to get out tomorrow .
And really finally , thank you for your suggestions to solve my Blogger problems .
ShySongbird , I have changed to the pop up comments page , fingers crossed . Thank you .
Mike H and Rob , I do already use Google Chrome as my browser , but thanks for the suggestion .
Warren , I don't really want to swap things over again , mainly because I don't really know what I'm doing when I try that sort of thing , but if needs must I shall remember your suggestion .


Marianne said...

Amazing photos of the Cormorant struggling with the Pike. The raptor is a Sparrowhawk - tail length/pattern rules out other options.

Warren Baker said...

Bramblings are in short supply everwhere this winter greenie, and I'd agree that is a Sprawk in the tree, a male by the looks of it :-)

Great bit of wildlifing with the Cormorant :-)

Alan Pavey said...

I was intrigued by your Cormorant and Pike story, I thought it would have been impressive to take the whole thing it looks like a monster!! Great post again Greenie :-)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie, First before I forget, I fear I may have unintentionally confused you. I really meant that the bloggers whose blogs you can't comment on need to change their comment box to the pop up as it is they who have the problem and not you. I know some have changed with favourable results. It may be of course that your browser is causing problems when trying to comment on blogs with the embedded comment box. I use Firefox and have had no such problems. I wouldn't worry though as I'm sure it is something which blogger will sort out eventually. I do hope I haven't confused you further, it's so difficult when you are not face to face!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of your visit and all the photos. I do think the Redhead is an elegant bird, I have only ever managed distant shots too.

I thought the Cormorant and Pike sequence was wonderful, of course I couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor old Pike but it must have been fascinating to watch, well done on the photos!

Mike H said...

Hi Greenie,

Thats some "fishermans tale" Love the photos to accompany it. Seems like these cormorant will take on anything ,that Pike clearly proved too much for both of them. I think Shy songbird has the answer to the blogger problem.

Rob said...

The scarlet elf cup is an eye-catcher, Greenie. As for the cormorant-pike drama - amazing!

Oh, and that guy with the doll - are you sure it was attached to his feet?

Marc Heath said...

Makes my eyes water just looking at the Cormorant, well captured.

Kingsdowner said...

It makes you wonder how the cormorant could have captured the pike, which you'd have thought would have been strong enough to escape. A marvellous tableau of photos.

Phil said...

Fantastic post Greenie.
Love the Pike vs Cormorant sequence. I'd like to have seen the underwater tussle when it first grabbed it!

Number Six said...

Sorry I posted on the wrong blog earlier.

I liked the photos of the cormorant trying to swallow the fish.

Please could I use one of these in a book I am printing to raise funds for a charitable trust.

my email is: dwwardgay@aol.com