Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday 16th. September 2012

With the sun still shining , I had a couple of hours at Bough Beech Reservoir yesterday morning , arriving to find really good numbers of Martins , mainly House , but just a few Sand , feeding and calling over the causeway . I tried for a few shots , but they all ended up in the recycle bin , but then the feeding seemed to come to an end , and the Martins seemed to become fascinated with the tops of the Willows just below the causeway on the edge of the main reservoir . It seemed that every single bird  wanted to get perched in a very small area of Willow branches , which , given the numbers , was impossible . So what looked like a tag game started , with arriving birds pushing incumbent birds from their perches , then being pushed off themselves . This went on for some ten minutes or so ,
until the vast majority of the birds were either perched or very close to the tops of the Willows , this
shot showing just one area of the Willows , in which I can see 65+ birds , and the second an enlarged
shot of the centre section , in which I can see 20+ birds .Then , as if someone had made a loud noise , they all flew en masse , and that was the last I saw of the Martins . I just wonder if this behaviour was a banding together , before heading off on their long journey South . During the rest of my visit , several Swallows went through heading South , but only two more Martins , I suppose there always has to be late arrivals . I've never seen so many Martins together before , and definitely haven't witnessed this behaviour before either . With the Martins gone and most of the birds on site being way down on the righthand side of the main reservoir , it was a case of scratching around looking for interest . Down at the culvert on the North lake , a juvenile Grey Heron and a juvenile looking Little
Egret were squaring up to each other over ownership of the fishing rights in the culvert , but the Little Egret sensibly retired , leaving the larger Grey Heron with sole ownership . A single Green Sandpiper , a large flock of Pied Wagtails some 30+ in number , and a couple of distant Common
Snipe on the North Lake , together with a single Little and many Gt.Crested Grebe , a few Cormorant and the group way down the reservoir was as good as it got . Until I heard 'cronk-cronk' from over the woods , and in the distance appeared  Raven , followed closely by some of the local Jackdaws . I
thought it was going to head directly over the North Lake , but the attentions of the Jackdaws drove it further away . Eventually the Jackdaws gave up and headed back to their patch , and the Raven
carried on it's way , venting it's spleen with a few more 'cronks' , no doubt to let everyone know who's in charge . A Buzzard was heard , but not seen over the woods and just before heading up to the Oast House / Visitor Centre , a Kingfisher sped across the road and down the stream that runs into the North Lake . Another Common Buzzard was soaring over the distant fields on my arrival , and strangely enough , another brief Kingfisher sighting as I crossed the bridge . Withe the car park full , I didn't go to the hide overlooking the scrape , instead spent some time photographing some of the Odonata around the bridge area . Lots of Migrant Hawker on the wing , mostly males , and some had
managed to find and catch a mate , like this one in the'ring' . Also found in the 'ring' , were a pair of
Common Darter almost lost in the jumble of a Hawthorn hedge . A male Brown Hawker was also in the area , much to the annoyance of the Migrant Hawkers , and when it finally came to rest , it was
obvious that it was a hardened veteran of many aerial skirmishes , having lost a good part of one of it's rear wings in the fray . All in all not a bad visit , but , what might have been had I decided on another early morning visit to Sevenoaks Reserve , where out left of Willow Hide , I read a Little Bittern was sighted , albeit briefly , before flying off .
And finally , with no more observations on the mystery bird at Shellness , I would like to thank ShySongbird , Warren and Mike.H for their input , and hope that if it turns up again , I can manage to get a better shot for identification .


Marc Heath said...

Great account Greenie, nice to see the Dragonfly shots.

Warren Baker said...

Ive seen House Martins do what you saw today, but I dont know the reason for it!

Lots of House Martins going over the fields here today (Sunday)

ShySongbird said...
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ShySongbird said...

First of all apologies Greenie for giving you sightings of Merlins seen at Elmley when it was in fact Shellness where you had seen the raptor. I had read it correctly when I made my first comment and suggestion but by the next day, when I had the idea of looking to see what sightings there had been of Merlins in the area, I got muddled, thinking it was Elmley!

Your photo of all the Martins was fascinating, I remember seeing somewhere once that someone had around 500 perched all over their house, roof, windows, anywhere they could perch, apparently it looked like something out of Hitchcock's 'The Birds'

I loved the photo of the Grey Heron and the Little Egret showing just how tiny the latter is.