The best laid plans

The best laid plans - Little Grebe
The best laid plans – Little Grebe

Last night I set the alarm ready for a morning of strolling round the lake capturing interesting images of frozen leaves and other items, a morning of abstract imagery, with maybe the odd landscape or bird, but definitely a feeling of cold and with luck some morning mist off the lake. Around 3am I awoke to the sound of heavy rainfall, bang went my initial plans.

The best laid plans

Instead I decided I would search out a local winter thrush flock and see if I could capture some berry tossing antics, again alas I was out of luck, what actually came out of my morning walk was a journey back into the pure enjoyment of bird watching (and a small adventure).

Let me start by telling you that I go nowhere without my camera, and these days the photography is the part of my walking/birdwatching I enjoy the most. and so it started out today, a walk round the lake where I stumbled across my first LITTLE GREBE for the site (I have been informed that there is a suspected breeding pair there, but no evidence yet).

Wildlife Sitings

I was chuffed by the sighting (and managed to grab a poor photo or two, the light was very poor) but it was quickly followed by a few more firsts: My first flyover BULLFINCH; my first REED BUNTING (I am sure I must have seen both before but I can’t recall); and then as I startled a CORMORANT to flight, it in turn spooked a WATER RAIL into calling (Again not my first but the first for a long while). I was fortunate enough to then have brief views of this skulking rail. Not low along the edge as you would expect, but climbing to the top of the reeds and then flying back into the middle of the bed.

I decided to carry on my walk in search of thrushes along the small stream, and was lucky enough to stumble across a striking LITTLE EGRET. Now you have to remember here that these small white herons used to be a major rarity in the UK. Even though they are now 10 a penny, and found at almost any water, I still love seeing them.

Little Egret on stream bank

More Wildlife

From here, and after watching a wonderful display of 2 MAGPIES trying to harry a particularly steadfast SPARROWHAWK away. I finally stumbled into a thrush flock (over the stream towards Bradwell, near the railway line). But there was little hope of photos as firstly; they were extremely flighty; and secondly the rain was beginning to get heavy. So I decided to wander into the wooded area. I say wood it’s a collection of trees between the railway line and the stream. An area as a young teenage lad I used to come with my mates and our bikes, known then as the “Hills and Hollows”. It was great for mountain bikes as I recall.

It was in here that I suddenly fell back in love with just watching the birds (I know sounds odd). With not enough light, and heavy rain, my camera gear was put safely away in my bag, and as soon as it was I was surrounded by birds. I was literally in the middle of a huge tit flock, the like of which I have not had the pleasure of being in the company of for many years. Along with good numbers of BLUE TIT; GREAT TIT; and LONG-TAILED TIT; were smatterings of COAL TIT; GOLDCREST (both new patch birds for me); a couple of GREAT-SPOTTED WOODPECKERS; a few JAY; and no end of other flitting creatures, that didn’t stop long enough for me to identify fully.

Blue Tit (Taken slightly later in the day)

Hills and Hollows

It was also here that my adventure started! I decided to follow the well worn tracks through the trees, knowing they were heading the same way I wanted to go (Bradwell Abbey). Slipping down some of the hollows and scrambling up the hills I eventually reached a point of no return. I had to press on, hoping I would find a path out (I knew I would eventually). Little did I know that this “way out” was going to mean me crossing a fast flowing, and flooded, set of, rather wobbly, stepping stones!

Eventually crossing the flow I was back on the footpath. And was delighted to see a COMMON BUZZARD being viciously mobbed by a couple of Crows. Only to then spot a perched KINGFISHER (who swiftly took to flight). Now at Bradwell Abbey I had a good look around for any more thrushes, but the only bird of note was a small flock of SISKIN high in an Alder.

My walk back was not as productive as my walk out. With the only birds of real note being a small party of BULLFINCH. And the tail end of the earlier tit flock (now fully across the stream and spreading out). But I returned home a satisfied man, once again in love with my hobby.

Moorhen by Lodge Lake


Common Coot by Lodge Lake
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