And so to some more birdy blog reporting. First the pre-birdamble though ...
I was actually up at Stithians on this Wednesday past, along with most of the rest of 'the team', for our induction meeting with SWLT as volunteers - we are now able, trained and ready to wield a paintbrush, screwdriver AND a flask, know which end is which, and roughly know what each one is for.
Actually we don't, at least any more than we did before.
On a more serious/sensible note, it was a useful morning all round, with hopefully much positive working in partnership to look forward to as we work towards maintaining and improving the habitat and area for the birds (alongside of course some maintenance of the hides etc allowing our visitors to enjoy and appreciate the birds).
Continuing on a slightly serious note there are a few practical bits and bobs I've been holding off doing and we will now look into - nothing major or requiring any expense to speak off for now, so please don't get too excited. For example, the installation of those heated armchairs for the hide will have to wait a little longer ... (along with the hot drinks machine and automatic snipe finder 2000)
So that was all good.
I was up at Stithians, but unfortunately inside, a place normally fairly devoid of birds; I did have a very brief scan of the water after we'd parked up by the Watersports Centre near the north end but sadly saw only a few Tufted Duck ...
I did manage to photograph the board showing the Reservoir though;
It should be noted that it actually appears like this -
on the OS map (and most other maps probably - if ever Australia take over the world (unlikely perhaps?), rotate it through another 180 degrees and everyone'll be happy). Note the remarkable resemblance to a mutant seahorse ...
I was also up on Friday ... but again, not so much birding was to be enjoyed. This was mostly due to be being a bit rushed for time on my weekly feeder visit - the car wouldn't start, and in asking the landlord for a quick look to see if he could figure anything out, it turned out he was heading up that way anyway - so I leapt (well more kind of shuffled) at the chance - the birds would be happy and fed.
Notable highlights - 2 Little Egret from the Southern Hide and 2 Goldcrests in the Pines outside the Stuart Hutchings Hide, with most of the normal stuff around the feeders. A quick scan of the waters but still no Slav ...
A potential visit on Saturday was postponed until Sunday, and then didn't happen at all, which brings us to ...
Monday 9th February
Attempts to remove the graffiti are still ongoing. The internet lied when it said cheap hairspray (the cheaper the better) was great at removing felt tip/marker pen from wood. White Spirit was so ethereal as to have almost no effect whatsoever either. The cheap sandpaper I have now seems like the best way forward, although I have a feeling some less cheap sandpaper (or an electric sander or perhaps a water buffalo or two) will do the trick better. The last two perhaps equally impractical or unlikely. Still do have the slightly unlikely trick up my sleeve of toothpaste (from a different internet site) to try.
Oh yes - birds -
The weather was positively balmy - bright sunshine, temperatures hovering only slightly below double figures - it seemed until I entered the hide and spent five minutes without a coat.
Birds seen initially -
4 Lapwing on the bank in front of us
Little Grebes (eventually totalling 11)
A couple of Herring Gull
Lots of Wigeon - c80 I reckon, but they all flew up the reservoir and out of sight shortly after first being seen.
Samuel saw the Slavonian Grebe.
I saw some Mallard, some Teal (about 8 of each), a Grey Heron and a Little Egret.
Then I saw a ... Peregrine Falcon. Not far out on one of the islets.
It saw us (or more likely, it had seen us all along).
Still a Peregrine
Perhaps some Lapwings saw it too - they took off, joined by a further 6. The Peregrine balefully glared at us, despite us being in the hide, and a good way off - and after a few moments, rather awkwardly shuffled off to the other side of the small islet it was on. A last look at us and then it ducked down out of sight.
If looks could kill we wouldn't want to be a small waterbird
And then we saw it (presumably same again) in one of the scrubby trees bordering the reserve area - although it did look small initially, and neither of us had actually seen a Peregrine in a tree before (apparently most don't sit it trees - the last one I saw in a tree turned out to be an Eleonora's Falcon). Partially obscured by branches, the immature falcon took our full attention for quite some while.
Peregrine perched in a tree.
It actually flew between 3 different scrubby trees - but never showing that well unfortunately. The above is really just a record shot to prove it actually was in the tree.
There were also 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail flirting with the shorelines - running and chasing, checking out the different islets and each others feeding spots; always mobile.
A bit of a surprise (well shock to be honest) was suddenly noticing a cock Pheasant strutting out on the open waterside not far out below us whilst we had been preoccupied with the Peregrine.
Male Pheasant. Very smart - in one sense of the word.
We eventually dragged ourselves away and to the Southern Hide, the feeders mostly running on nearly empty by now but still with the regular assortment of birds - a maximum of 20 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch and a single Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Water Rail and a male and female Reed Bunting. 4 Great Tits, 3 Long-tailed and the other minor players present. Both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay were heard - the latter so fleetingly I don't really think I can bring myself to add it to the yearlist, to be honest. We'll see - I'm sure we won't get that desperate, but you never know.
Out on the marsh, 17 or 20 Teal could be seen doing Teal type stuff, 4 Snipe were hidden in the long grass, another Grey Heron and a Little Egret too, and that was just about it, the odd other corvid, a couple of Buzzard wheeling about and a couple of Redwing over.
Male Reed Bunting
Water Rail - showing rather well ...
We (myself ably assisted by Samuel) were able to sweep both hides out and give the remaining feeders a proper clean before hanging back out with fresh food, and a few other minor practical bits and bobs, but the time still flew and I realised we would have to be back home soon because the girlfriend would be finishing work soon and I had the only key (hers - I'd lost mine whilst attending the breakdown guy) and I didn't want to incur any possible wrath.
One quick stop at the end of the causeway revealed a skulking Song Thrush near our feet and 2 female Goldeneye out on the water. A scan further up finally revealed the Slavonian Grebe hanging out with the two Tufted Duck, and a large expanse of choppy water which didn't really look like it held anything else, so we scooted. Hopefully the scars will heal soon.
Other noteworthy sightings, not quite so recent, but from the notebooks -
30th Jan - 20 Curlew near Menherion
31st Jan - 2 Peregrine Falcon (J St Ledger)
Southern cutoff - another view. Blue skies!