The first drops of light rain had started to fall as I headed out this morning. Occasional delicate drops spotted my waterproof coat as I walked. Large enough to leave a mark but not make a sound as they landed. As I walked the rubberised paths of the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve the rain slowly became heavier; and my final walk home was in a constant drizzle, but I have gotten ahead of myself here.
Approaching the North West corner of the reserve I was delighted to see the Great White Egret (GWE), now, one would assume, safely set in for wintering on site. A Little Egret and Grey Heron were keeping it company, the former mobile and active the latter stoic and stationary. I watched a while as the GWE stabbed its long orange bill into the muddy waters expertly grabbing a passing fish, before heading on to the first hide.
|Great White Egret and Grey Heron|
|Great white Egret at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve|
Iron Trunk Hide
Entering the hide I was greeted by a small group of people already in situ and taking up much of the room in this small hide, the only problem with small hides is once a few people are in with all their gear there is little room for others. glancing out of the window I was pleased to see a distant Green Sandpiper, but decided not to stay. I passed on news of the GWE and headed off.
As I left the hide I neared one of the small wooden bridges designed to be covered in flood water but get you over smaller rivulets, my passing was halted however as a pair of Mute Swan were using the structure themselves, the smaller female deciding she would perform a Gandalfesq sketch and stood at the entrance grunting “You shall not pass!” You can see the video below.
Don’t think she wants me to cross! pic.twitter.com/GxCkJkeR3n— Ashley Beolens (@Fromanurbanlake) September 19, 2016
Eventually she relented and wandered off allowing me to continue my walk.
|Mute Swan walking the path|
As I approached the farm hide the GWE flew up from the North and crossed the reserve before dropping down just West of the central path. As I watched a Little Egret took off from near the hide and headed off in the same direction and a second flew across the fields behind me, the area is becoming a brilliant spot for herons of all sorts these days.
|Great White Egret in Flight|
Not stopping long in the Farm Hide, there was little to see, I carried on along the main path and soon startled 2 Common Sandpipers away from the near shore, they put on a brief show for me before I was distracted by two more Green Sandpiper, and some passing walkers. Stopping to chat I showed them the sandpiper and the now partially visible Great White before bidding farewell and walking on.
I soon settled into the Viaduct hide and began my long scan, picking out another Green Sandpiper tucked away in one of the smallest channels from the river, and watching the ducks as the light rain steadily continued to fall.
|Views From the Hide Window|
3 Wigeon, settled along the far bank, are the first winter arrivals of this whistling duck. And at least 4 Little Grebe are back for the winter already. Large gulls are back, tending to loaf around the reserve in between picking through the litter at the nearby recycling centre. (If people learnt to clean their cans and separate properly I dare say I’d lose them). Today it was mainly Lesser Black Backed gull in various age ranges; and a lone Herring gull in among the Black-headeds.
The rain continued to create tiny ripples but they were small barely imperceptible drops as I headed back along the reserve path.
Return to the Iron Trunk
I decided to stop into the Iron Trunk hide one last time and was rewarded by excellent views of the Great White Egret; as it slowly stalked its way in front of the hide, while the rain steadily increased. 3 or 4 Green Sandpiper chased around calling and feeding (I estimate at least 6-8 are on the reserve). And a couple of Common Snipe flew from island to island. Slowly the noise of the drops grew louder on the roof, eventually reaching a crescendo as 4 little egrets flew through honking as they went. A lone, late, Chiffchaff “wheeted” to my left.
|Great White Egret in front of Iron Trunk hide at the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve|
The least expected bird of the day however was a Sedge Warbler that dropped into the trees in front of the hide for a few moments. Slowly working its way up to the tops before darting off again on its migration south. A signal for me to make my way to warm climes, and some dry shoes.
|Little Egret in Flight|
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