Thursday, 30 December 2010

Putting a Gloss on it

With seemingly the whole country being fogbound Paul and I decided not to risk going to Norfolk today. We instead decided to visit Berkshire, where there were 3 good birds on offer, all within 7 or 8 miles of each other.
I planned to meet up at Pauls house at 9, so on the way I decided to pop into Oldbrook estate to see if the recent Waxwing flock was still around. Eventually after checking most of the estate I found the flock roosting in a large tree in the middle of a roundabout on Century Avenue. A quick count gave me 47 birds. Hopefully this was a good omen for the rest of the day.

Our first stop was a place called Freemans Marsh, just outside Hungerford, where a Glossy Ibis had turned up a few days earlier.
Finding this bird proved to be no problem at all, just 250 yards walk from the car, paddling around in the river, at a range of a ridiculously close 20 yards.
The river also held a couple of Little Grebe and Water Rails often in the same vicinity as the Ibis.
During the week there had been reports of Jack Snipe in the area, so a check of all the nearby side-streams was called for. Unfortunately no Jacks but a couple of Common Snipe, 2 Green Sandpipers another Water Rail and a Little Egret.
We spotted some fish in the river and one half eaten specimen on the bank which I'm fairly sure were Greyling _ a first for me.

Glossy Ibis
 Our next stop was the nearby village of Great Shefford, where the instructions were to stop at the first bus stop and look across the sheep field towards the river.
 Another easy one, as we hardly had to get out of the car to see a Great White Egret consorting with 4 of it's smaller relatives, Little Egrets.
A distant shot shows the difference in size between the two species (click on the picture twice to bring it up bigger)
Great White Egret
Our final stop was just a mile down river where a Dipper had taken residence. Not such a rare bird but the first one in Berkshire for many years. We gave this an hour or so, but a couple of Grey Wagtails, a flyover flock of Siskins and some semi-tame Muscovy Ducks on the river were the best we could find.

Two out of three of our target birds added up to a very enjoyable day, and lunch at the pub at Whickham rounded it off nicely.

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