A Tale of Three Birds

Posted on the 06 May 2016 by Ashley Crombet-Beolens @Fromanurbanlake

I've been hitting the patch quite hard recently, every day I have had off I try to head out (family time obviously taking priority), the reasons are fairly obvious when you take into account the time of year (migration) and the fact I enrolled in the Patch Work Challenge this year, all this watching the same area could leave one jaded, but it is the familiar and the unexpected that keep things interesting.

Today three bird species (four if you include the swans I saw swimming the canal with their 6 cygnets) occupied much of my time, all three are summer migrants and all three saw me spending a good half an hour with each, watching, waiting and photographing.

A Tale of Three Birds

Bird one was a complete surprise, as I was arriving at the Western hide I spotted a bird flying low over the small complex of islands and water. The slate grey back and sharp wings caught my eye, then as the bird banked the rusty orange trousers confirmed I was watching my first Eurasian Hobby of the year.

The bird went on to perform for me for 20 minutes or so, viewable from the side hide window as it hawked up and down, over the water, skimming the heads of the Canada Geese and Grey Heron, before eventually a couple of Carrion Crows took offence to the small raptors presence and began to harry and harass it. After taking all the dive bombs and clawing it could the hobby began to hawk larger and larger areas before eventually disappearing off over the patch and into the distance.

Bird Two

After wandering most of the patch, and seeing a few nice waders, mainly just the regular Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper but also a lone summer plumage Dunlin that had stopped in on passage, I was soon looking at and attempting to photograph bird number two.

Bird Two came in the form of a couple of birds, the very scratchy voiced, repeating Sedge Warbler, again in the Western corner of the reserve (where the hobby had been earlier) a competing pair of male Sedge Warbler could be found, flying around the reeds and occasionally perching at the tops of the reeds. I watched as these two birds fought for attention with their vocal acrobatics, flying up to prove their dominance over each other, and the interloping Common Whitethroats and Reed Bunting that occasionally dropped in to see what the fuss was about.

Bird Three

As a photographer sometimes you have an image in your head (I had it once before with great crested grebes in the mist which turned out well) recently I have had one in my head for Common Tern, for this image to come to fruition I need to find a fishing bird.

Well today I sat down at one of the two most frequent places along the river for seeing common terns (the spot below the aqueduct) and waited. Fortunately, while I waited, I had a supporting cast of Cetti's warbler, Red Kite and Common Buzzard to keep me company.

After 20 minutes or so sitting beside the slow moving section of the river Ouse I was alerted to the screeching call of a couple of common tern as they approached, sadly these birds flew straight threw, returning a few moments later with fish in mouth (photo below). Eventually one more bird came past and decided to patrol up and down the river, tantalisingly hovering down stream at first before moving on once more, however it quickly returned and allowed me to attempt to capture the image in my mind.

I'm not sure if I managed what I had in my head but I hope you agree that they are quite nice photos.

Bonus Bird

After leaving the river be I headed home along the canal, enjoying along the way a small family of Mute Swan the male (cob) and female (hen) calmly swimming the murky waters accompanied by their 6 fairly young, and extremely cute, cygnets, all grey fluff and adorableness.

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