Thursday, 29 January 2015

A bit of the white stuff

The day started with some very heavy snow showers making for some wintry scenes and tricky driving conditions. It was rather wet snow and although it covered the ground it didn't accumulate to any depth. It certainly wasn't weather for venturing out other than a quick dash to try and capture an image to show the intensity of the snow fall.

The snow showers didn't last long but were quite heavy at times.
The garden was busy with birds as would be expected in such conditions. A Grey Wagtail was on the snow covered lawn looking for crumbs of food that had dropped from the feeders. Around 30 Goldfinches, 8 Chaffinches and 5 Greenfinches were tucking into nyger seed and sunflower hearts. Up to 8 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrush alternated between fat cakes, fat balls, apples, and sunflower hearts. A few Robins and Dunnocks chased each other around in between bouts of feeding. The usual Blue, Great and Coal Tits also came and went from time to time as did 8 Long-tailed Tits. Lastly a few Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Starlings and House Sparrows also got their fill as did the regular male Blackcap.

The snow showers eased off as the morning went on so I went for a walk around the park just across the road from home. I hadn't gone far when I came across a Cormorant that was lying on one of the fishing pegs. It was unusually approachable so I thought it may be injured or snagged on fishing line but as I got closer it stood up and seemed to be fine. I backed off a bit when it looked like it was going to enter the water and it quickly settled back down again. Although it looked in good condition there could have been something wrong with it as it is very unusual for a Cormorant to allow such a close approach.

This Cormorant allowed me to get within 7 metres of it before it even bothered to stand up. I will look for it again over the next few days to try and find out if there is something wrong with it or if it is just unusually confiding.
After leaving the Cormorant I wandered up to the reserve area where a Water Rail has been showing quite well. I soon came across it but a frequent procession of passers-by ensured it didn't come out into the open. I hung around for a while but every time it looked like it would show well more people and dog walkers would pass by so I decided to leave it for another day. It has had a lot of optics pointed at it recently so its not surprising that it has become a bit weary of all the attention.

This record shot of the Water Rail was the best I could do in the circumstances.
I ended my walk by checking out the Black-headed Gulls by the car park. The German ringed bird was the only ringed gull present and is now starting to get its black head. In previous winters this bird has not been recorded after 7th February so it will be interesting to see if this year is any different.

German ringed Black-headed Gull
There have been very few Coots coming out by the car park this winter and I hadn't seen any ringed birds amongst them until today. I took a few photos of this ringed Coot to get the ring number which I soon recognised as belonging to a bird that was ringed near Penarth in south Wales back in December 2010. I recorded this bird several times last January and it probably bred at the park that summer. You can see a recovery map and read about some of the earlier sightings here.

This Coot was ringed at Comeston Lakes near Penarth, not far from Cardiff, during the very cold winter of  2010/11.

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