Sunday, 21 December 2014

20th December - Testwood Lakes and Lower Test Marshes

A day away from Four Marks and I met up with Ian at Testwood Lakes.  It was dry and cold, but with almost total cloud cover.  We walked around early on to the hides, and as we passed through the woodland area we were surrounded by calling Long-tailed Tits and and this single Treecreeper.

There was not much going on from the hides, a kingfisher did put in a breif appearance but it was just a distant fly past and we were not able to locate.  One unusual event though involved a Great Crested Grebe and a nesting platform.  The grebe had been lazily swimming around, and we had watched it drift away from  us, but then found it sitting on the platform, which seemed quite strange.

When we left the hide I looked over the fence and it was standing up.  I do not recall ever seeing a grebe standing like this, I have seen them shuffle about on the nest, but never stand like this one was.

It had a look a round, then seemed to stretch and flap its wings.

Then with a walk that would have impressed John Cleese it shuffled to the edge of the platform, the lobed feet clearly visible.

And then dived in

Or rather belly flopped in!

We walked back via the bronze age hut, and some small bird activity in the willows behind the hut caught my eye.  There were two Chiffchaffs feeding in the branches.  They were very active and difficult to pin down, it was also quite gloomy

From Testwood Lakes we drove around to the Lower Test Marshes, and walked out on the board walk.  The site looked superb, with a lot of potential, but today it was very quiet, with only the odd Wren being disturbed from beneath the boardwalk.

Where the footpath meets the railway line we heard another Chiffchaff calling.  It too was very active fly catching and searching through the branches.

Despite some wishful thinking these were just Chiffchaff, they had not come from the salt mines!

We turned back, and made our way towards Redbridge.  An old barn seemed to be the perfect spot for House Sparrows, even the community nest box held two chirping males.  We set off along the board walk, and watched a Buzzard in the distance.  The Buzzard proved an annoyance for the flocks of Wigeon and Lapwing that were grazing on the open marsh.

Once again Wrens seemed to be everywhere, they would come from beneath the board walk as we walked along it, and would shoot into the reed bed.  Apart from the Wrens the only other bird we saw were Meadow Pipits calling from the longer grass.

We reached the bird hide, which in fact was a container (probably because there are so many in the area), but the hide proved to be a good spot for a sit down, and lunch and a few birds.  The hide overlooks a small scrape surrounded by a reed bed.  A Grey Wagtail appeared on a branch sticking out of the mud.

After posing nicely for me it then dropped to the edge of the mud and made its way through the vegetation, pecking and bobbing all at the same time.

Next was a Kingfisher, it flew in and sat on one of the perches.  As it did so the sun came out and picked it out beautifully.

It turned around  but did not do anything else but just waited.

Finally it was off back from where it came over the reeds and away.

As we walked up to the hide we could hear Green Sandpiper calling.  As we came in there were two birds present one which was active, the other sitting on the ground.  The first bird would circle around the other, and every so often jump on the other, who did not seem too pleased.  This was strange behaviour, and we wondered if the other bird was not well, but then they both flew off away over the reeds calling as they went.  Maybe it just wanted its friend to go with him.

They were gone for about 15 minutes when I heard the familiar call again, but only one returned, and immediately started to feed in the pools.  The sun came out and the reflections of the reeds produced a lovely scene.

We left the hide, and made our way back, and then took off to Eling.  Here we spent some pleasant time walking around the marsh, and then going down to the main water.  We saw a few Fieldfare, and calling Great Tits, but nothing much else.  Out on the main water there were Black-tailed Godwits, Brent Geese, Curlew and Oystercatchers.  Everything though was very distant.  Then it was into the pub for a swift drink, and a discussion on the who sang Christmas Wrapping.

It was a lovely day, nothing special but just nice to be outside with endless possibilities available, even though they didn't appear.  Unfortunately the same can not be said about the Sunday walk around the patch

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