16 August 2008

You Little Egret...

The weather forecast for this morning wasn’t too good, heavy showers by mid-morning, but I decided to go out birding anyway. The plan was to be at Willington Gravel Pits by 6:00AM, have a couple of hours birding the main reserve and then check the Canal Scrape before heading home when the rain arrived. As it happened, I didn’t get to Willington until just before 7:00AM (blame the whisky last night) and I came home at 11:15AM without seeing any rain!

The walk to the end of the lane was very quiet; long gone are the spring mornings when the sound of bird song filled the air. The only warbler that was, half-heartedly, singing was a single Chiffchaff. Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were the only other birds of note, none of which felt the urge to sing under the grey, overcast sky. A handful of Sand Martins were hunting for insects over the treetops, but I doubt they were finding too much food first thing this morning.

Out on the water things were a little more interesting - a Little Egret was fishing a short distance from platform 3! Like the Marsh Harrier I finally added to my Derbyshire list last September, Little Egret has been a bird I’ve wanted to see in the county for a long, long time. Even before I could get my ‘scope focused on the bird for a closer look it was up and gone. Years of waiting and I get less than two minutes of the Little Egret! Still, it was a county tick and also another new species for my “10-Mile List” so I couldn’t complain.

The next hour was spent waiting/hoping for something “good” to turn up - it never did. In the end I took to counting the birds that were lazing around on the two main pools. Counts of note were... 23 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Cormorant, 95 Canada Goose, 140 Mallard, c600 Lapwing, 65 Black-headed Gull and 6 Common Tern. There was a brief lifting of spirits at just after 8:00AM when a Buzzard flew low over Gull Pit, spooking many of the other birds in the process. All too quickly the moment, and the Buzzard, passed. The birds all settled again, I continued to wait.

By 8:45AM the (lack of) excitement got the better of me and I set off for Canal Scrape and the chance of a few different birds. The walk back up the lane gave me good views of Song Thrush, two Green Woodpeckers and a Stock Dove. A brief stop at the first platform rewarded me with close views of two Kingfishers that were flying around, and also perching, close to where I saw one back in June.

Canal Scrape proved to be a little quiet too but I did add a few more birds to my day list. The notable species were Common Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Lesser Black-backed Gull. A Hobby spent a short time trying to catch one of the hundreds of Swallows that were flying around, but it soon gave up and moved on when it realised that it wasn’t having any success.

Whilst adding Little Grebe, Shelduck, Pochard and Tufted Duck to my list I suddenly became aware of three big white “blobs” flying towards me - it turned out to be three Little Egrets! I guess that the egret I had seen earlier in the morning had been to fetch his mates. The birds didn’t land and the last I saw of them they were heading off north. Interestingly, Birdguides reported three Little Egrets flying over Wyver Lane, Belper less than an hour later. The same birds maybe?

The addition of Little Egret brings my “10-Mile List” to 132 species.

Young Swallows - waiting for the next flight to Africa!

1 comment:

  1. Nic (birdnerdblog)17 August, 2008 20:45

    Hiya! Love the Swallow pics! The Swifts round our way left last week, but I'm still seeing House Martins and the occasional Swallow. Scarily, the leaves are starting to fall from the oak tree beind our back fence, and there are even a few acorns sprouting! Autumn is here!