Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday 17th. February 2012

After a reasonable day yesterday , working up on the Common , where I saw my first Queen Wasp of the year and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee , and Carol had a Red Admiral in the garden , today was cloudier but still mild . I set just one target species for the day , having failed to see it at Mote Park recently , I headed for New Hythe , the patch of Phil / Sharp by Nature , to see if I could make contact with the Smew that he saw there recently . Arriving just after 0830 and parking in Brooklands car park , I set off around Brooklands Lake . A good scan from one of the fishing platforms told me that the Smew were not on this lake . I did however catch a raft of about 20
Pochard still sleeping , till one gave the alarm and they headed further out . A dozen of them made it into the viewfinder . There was also a female Goldeneye on the lake , but she was very distant into the light . Phil had seen the Smew in the corner of Abbeymead near the railway crossing , so that was where I headed , trying to keep out of view along the railway path , only emerging almost at the corner . As I emerged , I could just make out two redheads in the corner , but they had no problem
spotting me , and flew off immediately . I took a couple of quick shots , once again into what light there was ,  just in case it was to be my only sighting .I managed to keep them in sight , and they dropped down by the large reedbed on the far side of the lake . I made my way along the end of the lake to reach the high ground overlooking the reedbed , albeit at distance . To my joy , the two
redheads had landed to join another two , and a very smart looking drake . That was when things started going wrong , when workmen with a digger started moving along the high path along between the lake and the river , with flashing yellow lights . I thought Phil might be on his way , so I did him a text and he rang me to say he was along the side of Brooklands , so I told him where I and the Smew were . Then the workmen came along the track again , with a large yellow thing swinging from the jib of the digger . That was it , the drake and two of the redheads took off , and after a
circuit of the lake , disappeared in the direction of the 'raptor viewpoint' . The other two redheads
stayed put for a short while , then they flew back to the corner of the lake where I had seen the first
two birds . I rang Phil to tell him the new position , but before he got there , the two birds flew off again , probably over Phil's head , heading for Brooklands Lake . When I finally met up with Phil , he was not alone , he had obviously brought a 'minder' with him , a chap he referred to as 'Uncle John' , but I'm sure that was just cover . From that side of the lake the digger with it's light was plain to see , so understandable why the timid birds flew off . After a chat , we split up , Phil and his 'minder/Uncle' heading for streamside over the railway , whilst I headed back to Brooklands to see if any of the birds landed there . They hadn't , but whilst passing , I managed a distant shot of the
female Goldeneye , which turned out to be as evasive as the one on the Trout Lake a couple of visits ago , as it took much walking backwards and forwards around the lake to get this poor shot . Other
interest were the Cormorants , some well into breeding plumage , the on the right being almost a 'silver-neck' . I was planning to head for Phil's bucket seat alongside the river , when another text from Phil , '6 Smew at Johnson Lake' . Great I thought , then the penny dropped , I don't know which lake is Johnson lake .
Another text to and from Phil , and I was heading down to the Water Works entrance , ignoring the Bittern viewpoint , for the time being , and heading for the East Scrub area . Once there , I tried to get around Johnsons Lake , but wasn't sure how to . I had got around to the houses , but couldn't get any further , so came back again . I was just taking a blow , watching a mixed flock of Goldfinches and Siskins on an Alder , when a whistle announced the arrival of Phil and his heavy . They had spent the time trying to get near the bird , but had found it very difficult . They headed off back to the car park and I decided to have a try for the birds , now Phil had told me how to get around the lake . I
wandered around finding several male Shoveller , but only odd glimpses of redhead Smew . A very
confiding Great Crested Grebe gave a rare close up photo opportunity , and the best I could manage
 with the Smew , was a single redhead , as the cloud started to roll in at a pace . I decided to call it a
day , and heading back to the car managed to photograph an almost tame Cormorant on Tesco Lake , a possible Water Vole , just movement of reed and bubbles across the ditch , the first Goat Willow
flowers on the other side of the same ditch . A quick stop at Lunsford Lane and the Trout Lake produced very little , apart from a Rabbit , which , had I been quicker , was sitting a metre off the
ground on a tree stump , unusual . Good meeting up again today Phil , good to meet your 'heavy' too .
Can we just forget about that branch falling ?


Warren Baker said...

''much walking backwards and forwards'' .......That sounds like one of my patch visits, when trying to get photographs :-)

Phil said...

You did better with the Smew pictures than I did Greenie.
I reckon your GC Grebe was the same as mine, on the narrow pond alongside the track bt Johnson's.
I wonder where the drake Smew ended up, will look again asap.

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post Greenie, always good to find your target bird and get some pics too, I haven't been to New Hythe much but it is tricky when you don't where you are going.

ShySongbird said...

It sounds like you got plenty of exercise on that outing, Greenie! They certainly gave you the runaround.

Lovely photo of the handsome Cormorant.

Nice to see the Willow, maybe Spring isn't so far away after all.

Simon said...

Well done with getting the Smew Greenie, nice post!