Pintails and People

Pintails and People - A frosty view out over the Ouse Valley in Old Wolverton

A clear, starry, sky overnight led to a beautiful bright morning with a crisp frosty crunch underfoot. Heading out into the Ouse Valley, with a stunning blue sky overhead I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 41st birthday (obviously in the loving embrace of my family but work and school gets in the way there) beautiful scenery, great birds and some peace and quiet.

Pintails and People


Strolling through the old lock the sounds of birds surrounded me, small parties of Dunnock chipped and hopped around in the undergrowth, while flocks of Blue Tit seemed to be everywhere I looked, as I reached the river Ouse I stood to watch a Little Egret wading through the swollen, muddy waters, its delicate breeding plumage starting to appear, and chatted with an old friend, but my real goal was seeing if the two male pintail that had been reported on Saturday were still on the lakes, even though I have already seen a couple in flight over in January, seeing the males on the water is always worth some effort.


Little Egret Fishing in the River Ouse
Little Egret Fishing in the River Ouse

So that is where I quickly headed, entering across the wild flower meadow, in the South West corner, I spotted the wintering female Stonechat as she hopped up onto the fence, before flitting off over the reserve and in front of the Aqueduct hide, where she was joined by her male companion.

I headed over to take a closer look and watched as the pair of birds searched the weedy grounds for any food they could find, as they searched a couple of over protective European Robins chased them and each other away each time one entered their small parcel of land.

Scanning across the slightly misty lakes 6 Goosander could be seen swimming the deeper waters, while tiny Teal fed in the shallow margins and brightly coloured Shoveler swept their comical bills through the grey waters.

Male Reed Bunting in front of Aqueduct Hide
Male Reed Bunting in front of Aqueduct Hide

Dunnock on Barbed Wire Fence
Dunnock on Barbed Wire Fence

A 3 image Panorama view from the Aqueduct Hide
A 3 image Panorama view from the Aqueduct Hide


Flight of Pintail


As I slowly walked the southern path a large duck suddenly flew into sight, circling around this, western, lake a couple of times, the long slender body, chocolate brown head and pin sharp tail of an adult male Pintail was clear for all to see, he eventually landed just beyond the scrubby willow swam for a few moments then headed back east over the farm hide and out of sight.

Male Pintail in Flight
Male Pintail in Flight

Pintail coming in to land
Pintail coming in to land

Pintail Swimming the waters of the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Pintail Swimming the waters of the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve


Feeling very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time I carried on my walk hoping for further views later on.

Plethora of People


It's not often I see other birders and wildlife photographers down here, perhaps it;s the time of day or the fact it is usually weekdays that I am found walking the rubberised paths of the Floodplain Forest Nature reserve, but apart from one or two regulars I'm lucky if I see one or two a week, today seemed to be very different, there were at least 5 people wandering the lakes with large camera lenses (or digiscoping setups) and a further two or three birders. I think I saw less people at the Black-winged Stilt twitch.

Eastern Lakes


pushing onward I bypassed the farm hide and surrounding water, scanning only briefly to see the male Pintail swimming in with the Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard, but choosing not to stop as there were enough people already gather to look at ahwat was a stunning bird.

Reaching the eastern pits and the viaduct hide I was tempted to walk on as there was little to be seen at first glance, but decided to pop into the hide for a sit down (as a quick side note the "youth" who frequent the hide in the darker hours really could learn to crack a window when they "smoke" as the place stank of illicit substances).

Staring out through the thin hide window the scene in front of me, while not being bird filled was stunning, the glassy surface of the lakes waters reflecting the blues, whites and greys of the sky back like a mirror.

Glassy Waters of the Floodplain Forest
Glassy Waters of the Floodplain Forest


Slowly the bird life began to pick up as first one, then two and eventually four Goosander flew in and set about displaying to each other on the distant waters. Close by a Lesser Black-backed Gull sat preening near several Cormorant one looking splendid in with heavy amounts of white on the head. Common Coot dived in front of the hide, while Black-headed and Common Gulls commuted between the water and the recycling centre nearby.

Common or Eurasian Coot
Common or Eurasian Coot

Lesser Black-backed Gull in Flight
Lesser Black-backed Gull in Flight

Lesser Black-backed Gull in Flight (2)
Lesser Black-backed Gull in Flight (2)

Cormorant Looking Fine in its White Headdress
Cormorant Looking Fine in its White Headdress

Black Headed Gull
Black Headed Gull


The longer I sat the more appeared, distant groups of Common Snipe (6); small parties of swimming Tufted Duck and Pochard; Wigeon and Teal leaving the banks and entering the water; A Grey heron stalked the shallower water; and 3 Little Egrets chased each other around the lake margins.

Grey Heron hunting in the Margins
Grey Heron hunting in the Margins

Grey Heron in Flight
Grey Heron in Flight

Grey Heron in Flight (2)
Grey Heron in Flight (2)

Grey Heron in Flight (3)
Grey Heron in Flight (3)

Another Image of a Grey Heron
Another Image of a Grey Heron

Wigeon in Flight, with Goosander and Pochard
Wigeon in Flight, with Goosander and Pochard

Black Headed Gull
Black Headed Gull

Cormorant coming in to land
Cormorant coming in to land

Final Approach
Final Approach

Swimming
Swimming


Return Pintail


After having my fill of the Viaduct hide I headed back to have another brief look at the stunning Pintail, sadly just to far away for decent photos, but I managed one for cropping.

Male Pintail Swimming
Male Pintail Swimming


With a doctors appointment due I headed off home, pausing only to check on the Stonechats once more, and for a few photo opportunities, such as the carpet of Snowdrops surrounding a few of the gravestones in the old church.

Magpie
Magpie

Snowdrops around grave stones
Snowdrops around grave stones

The Old Church
The Old Church

Views over the Ouse Valley, it's amazing what changes in a few hours, same spot as the first image on this page
Views over the Ouse Valley, it's amazing what changes in a few hours, same spot as the first image on this page


I'm Walking 2500 miles in 2017 to raise money for Birding For All - Read about it here - Please consider donating through My Donate

If you enjoyed this post, or found it useful, then please do share it with your friends using the links below


Please feel free to leave me a comment, I really appreciate the interaction and will reply as soon as I can. I apologise for any issues with posting comments, but sometimes Google's blogger platform plays up. ALL comments are moderated for SPAM, so please don't bother if the comment is unrelated to the post it will likely be deleted.

CONVERSATION

4 comments:

  1. Love the cormorants reflected in the water... beautiful photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, they are quite nice, and thought the different crop worked well too.

      Delete
  2. Yep, it was just a little busier than usual around the reserve on Monday Ashley! it was good to see the Pintail though...a cracking bird.
    You captured some super images too...[;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you as always, hope you catch up with the little owl soon :)

      Delete

Back
to top