Friday, 8 April 2016

a productive morning at local nature reserve

We decided to go somewhere we haven't been for a while - our local South Wales Wildlife Trust nature reserve.
There was some blue sky and sun. Cloud was building up while we were there.
It was lovely to see bird feeders along the fences next to the footpath and every so often when no-one was around the birds were feeding. Surprisingly male and female Reed Buntings! Wow, I haven't seen any of these for some time! I used to get them in my back gadren when I was a child. An absolutely stunning bird associated with wetlands. 

An unmistakable, cracking, male Reed Bunting, often heard singing this morning.

This is the female Reed Bunting. Best photo I could get today. Notice she does not have full black head or grey plumage. She is more brown, again, and more streaky.

We arrived at the first hide overlooking at very large pool. Canada Geese were present and a Tufted Duck which evaded a photo. Yet right in front of the hide, in the water, was a gorgeous Little Grebe, later joined by a second one. 

Little grebe

Canada Geese.

After taking several photos of the Little Grebes, my husband called me to see a pair of Grey Wagtails also in front of the hide. These are also stunning birds. I got quite excited and carried away taking photos of them. Never been so close, that's why!

 I have made these photos of the Grey Wagtails larger on the blog as I think they deserve it and you can truly appreciate them.

Out of the hide and while continuing our walk around part of the reserve, we were alerted to a group of 8 Jays. Flying around together they were squawking and even singing once they landed in the trees. I've never heard a Jay's song before. It was quite unusual but sweet. Not the best photo here. And I only managed this other shot in flight (below). They are members of the Crow family but obviously much more colourful. A lovely pink plumage with black and white wings, a patch of blue, white-ish face and a white rump which is seen in flight. Also when flying they have quite rounded wings, with 'fingers' (very end of wing tips) usually open like below. 

3 Buzzards were soaring above us and the reserve too, calling occasionally. I love Buzzards. Well, I love all birds of prey.  This is usually the only time I can get a decent photo of a Buzzard - in flight.  Still, a lovely sight. See below.

Meanwhile, down on the ground, my daughter and husband spotted a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. Very colourful.

We saw masses of primroses in one shaded area growing around trees. 

Around the reserve we heard several singing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Not long migrated in they are now sussing out the territories.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Some Great Tits followed us around -  look how bold the black central line through the yellow breast is. Black head, white face, and green-ish coloured back which is not seen here.

And finally before getting into the car I heard a glorious little song which I knew straightaway that it was a Dunnock but did not see it immediately. It was closer to me than I thought. Still, it posed and sang long enough for me to take its photo. They are members of the Sparrow family but clearly different to our House Sparrows. Their other name is Hedge Sparrow implying that is where they usually favour. They have a grey head, neck and breast and brown backs.

Well, what a busy little place. If you are new to birding and looking for wildlife, it's a good idea to go to a nature reserve as they usually have a wealth of information as to what could be found there, and have a variety of habitats providing food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. 

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