|summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe, Farmoor 12th May 2018|
We struck off down the causeway as is our norm and noted the large numbers of Pied wagtails still present. The numbers of these delightful little birds increased suddenly about a fortnight ago and will swell further through the autumn. They'll be joined by some of the nominate and continental White Wagtails too but for now they were all of local Pied stock. I've tried and failed to capture the wagtails in flight before and this morning I gave up trying after the first one had flown past. They have a shifty habit of flying erratically away like the Swallows that I also have trouble with.
Some of the birds were comfortable enough to actually "sit" down by the waters edge and snooze. Interestingly both species were impartial to who they "slept" with, one of the Dunlins seemingly very friendly with a Ringed Plover.
We left the sleepy birds to it and moved further along the embankment where we got an eyeful of Mallards copulating! Duck sex isn't for the faint hearted and the drake certainly appears to get the best of the deal since he just about half drowns the poor duck whilst giving her a good nip while going about his business! Fortunately for her it doesn't last very long (mmm....familiar?) and she's soon breathing air again. After the act he puffs his chest out and seems to proclaim "I'm the Daddy!".
Another birder who had encountered the flock of waders didn't possess the required stealth and startled the birds into flying which was a win for us since they flew past us calling as they went and thus enabling me to get some flight shots.
We left the reservoir and headed towards the river. The bushes were alive with warblers and a couple of elder bushes were teeming with a party of Long-tailed Tits. I never tire of watching these active and acrobatic little balls of feathers although tying them down for a photo is never easy. We found a group of mixed warbler species and noted Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a Common Whitethroat but only a male Blackcap stayed still for long enough. In a couple of weeks we'll be in Cornwall spending a lot time searching through bushes and trees in the hope of finding some scarcer warbler species so this was an opportunity to practice and re-hone our skills in pinning them down. The practice is definitely needed!
|Great Crested Grebe|
A beautiful Black-headed Gull drifted effortlessly past. These Gulls are very adept at catching very small fish right at the surface of the reservoir and we've witnessed their prowess on several occasions in the past.
|female Red Crested Pochard|