Friday, 11 December 2009

11th December 2009

An excellent afternoon's birding was had. First were a Goldcrest, a Jay and 2 Nuthatches in New Fallings Coppice, though I was hoping to come across another Firecrest there - I'd recommend people take their wellies if you decide to go in though.

Reached the lakes, and Terry's Pool was rather good, with 3 Goosanders, 2 Shovelers, a Kingfisher, a Sparrowhawk, a Lesser Redpoll and another Jay seen. However I was totally unprepared for the next good birds seen!

At the causeway, there was nothing unusual around so I do what I sometimes do here and counted the gulls, which as usual were mostly Black-headed Gulls. I was in the middle of counting them on Windmill Pool, when I heard strange calls coming from Engine Pool. I'm afraid I didn't react quickly to them, and tried to finish my count - BIG, BIG MISTAKE!!! The calls got louder and so then I bloomin' well stopped my count and turned to look and there flying over Engine Pool were a small flock of large white birds! My first, split-second impression was geese, but as I put my bins on them I could see they were swans with yellow on their beaks - wild swans or perhaps those Whooper x Mute Swan hybrids that have caught many people out! I think I literally went into shock and my heart rate rocketed, but despite this and the slightly foggy conditions I managed a pretty good view of one of the bird's bills as they flew over the causeway, and saw the characteristic large yellow pointed wedge on otherwise black bill - a Whooper Swan!!! There were 6 swans in the flock, but I can not confirm that all were Whoopers, because as they flew over Windmill Pool, away from me, I panicked because I couldn't see them well with the mild fog around and stupidly got my scope out and tried looking at them through it, rather than persevere with the bins! I believe I've done this before with birds in flight, but do I learn?!!! I can't remember if I succeeded or came to my senses and got my bins out but I last saw the flock distantly flying low (in-between treetops) eastwards away from the pool. I stayed at the causeway for some time hoping they might return, as they had looked like they were contemplating landing on Windmill Pool. As I was in the middle of censusing a few bird species, I continued around Windmill Pool, and noted 2 Fieldfares and a few Redwings in a nearby horse pasture, but naturally my thoughts were on larger birds returning! My mom picked me up and, although it was rapidly getting dark, I got her to pass a field east of the lakes that I know floods near the road, plus was able to check all the pools at Blythe Valley CP, but sadly there was no sign.

M.P. Griffiths

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