Environment Magazine

Back to the Patch

Posted on the 04 September 2017 by Ashley Crombet-Beolens @Fromanurbanlake
Back to the Patch - sheep on hill
Layers of moisture filled the air, as I headed back onto the patch after a summer hiatus, the light spots of rain nothing compared to the heavy, sticky, liquid filled air of early September humidity. air so oppressive even breathing was laboured a little.

Back to the Patch

Having spent the last 6 weeks with the little ones, I've not been out alone, birding my favorite area for a while, one quick evening stroll and a morning dog walk aside. After crossing the cattle fields, and avoiding the sleeping cows and agitated sheep I entered a world of birds!

Let Sleeping Cows lie

Let Sleeping Cows lie

A sudden arrival of a tit flock swarmed around me, the chattering of Great Tit and Blue tit, combined with the gentle pips of Long-tailed tit as they moved on mass through the old lock area, but they were not alone as a dozen or so Chiffchaff joined them, and the loud chacking of as many Blackcaps made up the numbers. 

Chiffchaff in the willow

Chiffchaff in the willow

Overhead the twittering of House Martins filled the gray skies as the last flocks, brought low by the oppressive weather, fed up on the early autumn insects before beginning their long flights south. A Brief flash of speed as a Hobby swept through ended the excitement, as I headed under the canal.

Willow Growth and Yaffle Birds

Things were much quieter on the Nature reserve itself, at least to start with, not much was stirring as I wandered the rubber paths, arriving at the aqueduct hide I settled down to see what was about and was greeted by  a row of willows blocking much of the view, the closer shore and small ponds completely hidden by the green shield. Out on the little water I could see, a few swans regally swam the shallow water but that was all I could make out.
From the side window a Green Woodpecker, flew its looping flight from fence post to fence post, pausing a few times before eventually settling down, on the scrubby ground, to stab it's needle tipped bill into the mud in search of deeply hidden ants.

Off the Post - Green Woodpecker

Off the Post

Green in the grass - Green Woodpecker

Green in the grass

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

The one bonus to the tall willows was the arrival of another tit flock, noisily passing through the green leaves and golden stems.

Hanging Around - Blue tit on willow

Hanging Around

Ready for flight - Blue Tit

Ready for flight

Blue Tit in Willows

Blue Tit in Willows

Bare Ground and Honking Geese

A brief stop in the Farm hide provided views of nothing! The lowish water revealing grassy, mossy banks rather than the hoped for mud, and so I moved on swiftly, passed the working parks trust (they always seem to have a tractor out digging or cracking in fence posts when I visit the reserve), and on to the Viaduct hide.
The cacophony of sound that hit me as I crossed the iron bridge to the stilt pits was ear shattering, the waters were alive with honking Canada geese and arguing Greylag geese, each fighting for its own small corner.
Scanning the small patches of mud that still manage to maintain their height over the gray water a couple of Green Sandpiper could be seen bobbing along the lapping shore. In the skies large flocks of Black-headed gulls squawked and swooped, while Herring Gull and Lesser Black Backed gull sat on the rippling water.

Wing Stretch - Greylag goose stretching its wing

Wing Stretch

All a flap - Canada Goose flapping

All a flap

Conducting the cacophony - Greylag goose flapping

Conducting the cacophony

Little else of note was around as I walked through the still oppressive air back home once more.
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