Saturday, 11 February 2012

Fieldfare Week

Male Blackcap
Strange Fruit - fieldfares
"Fieldfare Week" sounds like a promotion in an organic farm shop! But the truth is, back in MK we are surrounded by flocks of the birds as they take refuge from the snow and ice in the trees and bushes around the town.  One flock seems to have adopted the trees beside the house and we are constantly hearing the flock "chuckle" as these vocal birds chatter amongst themselves.  Photographing them is not quite so easy - at least not from the ground - they are very aware of any approach - and even if they miss something, the ever present blackbird's alarm call soon sets them flying. From the house my eye is constantly distracted as the flock dashes back and forth over their temporary home territory. I finally got a good view and a photograph from the upstairs window.
The snow has brought other visitors too.  A pair of backcaps passed through at the beginning of the week and there are some lurking coal tits today - if the magpies will leave them alone, they might actually rest long enough for a picture.
Having been chained to the office all week I have only managed to get out with the camera today - but what a day.  Cold, clear and sunny, the temperatures began at -7.5 deg C this morning, and just about clawed above zero in the early afternoon.
North Caldecotte Lake, early morning
I set out just after 7am and after setting up about 100 fieldfare from the bushes around the house. As I had a 9am appointment I decided to forego the full circuit and I headed for the south Caldecotte Lake to see if there was a clear patch of water left for the birds. The section of the north lake I passed was very quiet with the first real activity in the only local patch of free water - just under the road bidge.  This was busy with mallard, with a few moorhen darting around.
South Lake
Round to the bridge, I'd intended to put some food on the posts, but the activity indicated I'd been beaten to it. Sure enough, Keith was round the corner - and I disturbed his viewing! (Sorry Keith!)  We had a quick chat and he reported Greater spotted woodpecker on his feeders earlier - but they were of course nowhere to be seen when I looked! On for a quick recce of the lake. A family of swans had kept a small patch clear in the first bay, but most of the activity was out in the middle, where a long strip of water had been maintained and was chock-full of water fowl. Amongst them I spotted a grebe standing out on the ice - looking very strange! They aren't build for standing, as their legs are set very far back on their body
Newly arriving Greylag
As I turned to leave for my appointment a flock of grelag wheeled in, landing on the ice and heading towards the swan's small waterhole, picking their feet up very gingerly - I'm not sure if that was the slippery ice or just the cold ensuring they maintained one foot off the ground for as long as possible.
As I dashed home I couldn't resist a quick look at the feeders in case the woodpecker had returned - and my luck was in - he was pecking at a supply of suet balls.  As he saw me he sidled to the back of the feeder, peeking round the side to check on me. I move across to get another angle and he allowed me a reasonable approach to grab a shot of him.  Thanks for that one Keith.
Ooohh this hard water is cold!
After my appointment the day was too nice to waste on all the housework so we set out for a quick walk round Walton Lake to see what turned up. A Bittern had been reported here, as well as water rail visible on the fozen water.  We were in luck - not for the bittern, but we were able to watch the water rail for a few minutes and grab a few shots.  There were a number of reed bunting in evidence and lots of blue and great tits in the trees. 
We detoured along the river Ousel, which appeared quiet apart from a few mallard and moorhen, until an egret flew down the river. It settled on the other side of the river beside the OU - unfortunately behind bushes - but then decided even that was too close to us for comfort and it headed off, following the river towards Simpson.
Great spotted Woodpecker

As we headed back to the car we had a good look at the geese in the fields - mostly greylag, but there was one very pale goose hanging with a group of Canada geese. I'm guessing it is a sport, but please let me know if you have any ideas about it!

Water rail

Little Egret

Different goose (any ideas?)

1 comment:

  1. Glad you got to see the GSW eventually; and a shot of a Water Rail. More than I've managed so far lol
    Your white goose looks suspiciously like the one that hangs out with a group of Canada Geese at Caldecotte. I call him a pretend Snow Goose :-)