24 Mar 2012 Woolston Eyes BNG's

26th March 2012
Having heard that some Black-necked Grebe had returned to “The Eyes” it was a bit of a foregone conclusion about where I would be going on Saturday.

I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning with not a cloud in the sky probably the best Saturday of the year so far, so it wasn’t very difficult for me to raise myself, get my gear together and get out and about.

Whilst driving along the canal to the reserve there were plenty of Great Crested Grebe and Cormorants to be seen; the Cormorants seemed to be having quite a bit of success fishing, returning to the surface dive after a dive with some rather large fish. I tried pointing the camera in various directions but couldn’t really get a decent shot, the light was far too contrasty.

As I walked along the path past the first screen and hide I was hit by the noise from the Black-headed Gulls but as I walked into the trees it changed to birdsong and I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year; spring has definitely sprung.

I normally go straight to the centre hide but I decided to start at the Rotary Hide because I’ve had reasonable success there photographing the Black-necked Grebe but there wasn’t much to be seen or at least no Black-necked Grebe. While I was there Brian Martin came into the hide and told me he had counted eight or nine Black-necked Grebe from the new hide, around the middle of the pool, which wouldn’t be too bad distance wise for a few shots.

Black-headed Gull from the Rotary Hide

So I moved on to the new hide and it took a while before I found some BNG’s anyway I counted six and then another three drifted in from the south channel, so nine in total.

Unfortunately they mostly kept to the far side of the centre pool so no real chances to photograph them, even with the 1.4x teleconverter attached. However I couldn’t resist trying a few shots so a very heavily cropped photo appears below.

Black-necked Grebe

It was quite busy on the water, lots of squabbling and noisy Black-headed Gulls from the colony that nest on “The Eyes”. There seemed to be plenty of young gulls as well as the full-grown adults presumably last years young. A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls also appeared adding their voices to the cacophony of sound.

Black-headed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Other birds on show were Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe (at least 4 pairs), Little Grebe, Pochard, Cormorants hanging their wings out to dry, Mallards, Coot & Moorhens. A pair of Greylag Geese also appeared and I could here Canada Geese somewhere but I couldn’t see them.

Mallard mating

Greylag Goose

A pair of Teal and a Lapwing spent some time in front of the hide and gave me some nice shots.



A pair of Buzzards drifted over circling on the thermals as they do, plenty of Carrion Crows with Magpie and Jays flying through.

As I walked back to the footbridge I could hear Chiffchaff everywhere and I could also hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming but could see neither species.

I found a Brimstone butterfly on a Dandylion: the 500mm isn’t the ideal lens for butterfly shots but by lying down on the path and resting the lens on my bag I just about managed to get some shots before it fluttered off like confetti on the breeze. There were quite a few butterfly on the wing mainly Brimstone and Tortoiseshell.

Brimstone butterfly

As I crossed the footbridge a couple of Great Crested Grebe were not too far away on the bund resulting in a few nice shots with almost mirror-like reflections in the water.

Great Crested Grebe

Tempus fugit: I could have spent the day there it was so nice but the real world beckoned and I had to leave this little island haven and the natural world and I took the steps back into reality.

Apparently Marsh Harrier had been present on No3 bed almost every day last week and a Bittern (from the Lindley hide) has been seen on more than one occasion over the last few weeks.

Thanks for reading.



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