Sunday, 19 February 2012

HESC visit

Variety of birds on the HESC bund
As my knee was still complaining I abandonned plans for a longer trip, and we both headed up to the Hanson Environmental Study Centre aka HESC at Great Linford. It was a lovely morning with a sharp wind making itself felt once out of the sheltering trees. 
Teal (& female mallard) browsing
The approach from the car park was edged with trees bearing singing robins and great tits, but the loudest noise was the sounds of the groups of geese on the lake beyond organinsing themselves. At the first hide we could see why - a number of groups of both Canada and Greylag geese were coming and going between the land and water and also via the air. There was no sign of the godwit reported recently, but there was a good variety of birds along the bund across the lake - testimony to the good work volunteers had done clearing excess vegetation.
Along the margin there were a number of teal, some on the lake feeding, others (look closely) still tucked into the marginal reeds, resting, well camoflaged.
Greylag feeding, teal sleeping
We moved on to the woodloand hide along the reed-bed walkway still slippery with ice.
I had some feed in my bag, so I put it out on the tables and feeder and we settled down to watch.  A steady stream of great tits robin and chaffinch began to come and go, with some coal tits and a couple of dunnocks cleaning up the spills on the ground. 
Willow Tit
Mammals weren't left out, as a pair of bank voles darted in and out from cover and a couple of grey squirrel joined in.  After a while the stars turned up - a couple of willow tits began to join in.
   Well I ws told they were willow tits by the chap who joined us in the hide - I'm still not convinced I can differentiate one from a marsh tit - they are very alike.  Need to spend some time on the web working it out for myself!
 The pictures here aren't all the same bird -and the 4th one does seem to have a much smaller bib than the others.  I love the palest pink tinge to their bellies - very dainty and pretty birds.
Tentative approach
The third hide didn't have anything within range of my camera, so we turned for home.  As we headed back to the car I couldn't resist one more look in the first hide, and was rewarded with a close view of an incoming swan.  This one seemed to be showing off with a one footed landing!
Willow tit

willow Tit
Willow Tit
one-footed landing


  1. It looks like you had a great morning out in the sunshine Marilyn!...[;o)

  2. Somewhere I've never been.
    You got some great shots.

    As for the difference between Marsh and Willow; I'll leave that to the grown ups to decide. ;-)

    (3 goes at this word verification thing grrrr!)

  3. Just found out a few days ago that Our Chickadee's are in the Tit family. They look similar to your UK Tits. Great little birds.