North Cave Wetlands – 17/02/13

It’s been a while since my last Blog, the weather being less than inspiring through this period, due to the lack decent light for photography. Well today the sun was out, without a cloud in the sky, so I headed over to North Cave Wetlands in the afternoon to see what was on offer. Despite it being busier than my usual week day visits, the camera certainly got a workout today, with several species offering some great photo opportunities.

The waterfowl are the obvious focal point on any visit to this reserve. I‘ve had many chances to photograph Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus here in the past, but have never been happy with the results, so it was nice to finally get an acceptable image of an adult on the Main Lake. Pochard Aythya ferina are ever-present, though often muddy faced, from feeding on the bottom of the lakes. Gadwall Anas strepera posed nicely as a pair on Carp Lake. A few other species also made it into the frame, illustrated in the photos below.

Great-crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus

Great-crested Grebe – Podiceps cristatus

Coot - Fulica atra

Coot – Fulica atra

Gadwall - Anas strepera

Gadwall – Anas strepera

Mallard - Anus platyrhynchos

Mallard – Anus platyrhynchos

Pochard - Aythya ferina

Pochard – Aythya ferina

Tufted Duck - Aythya fuligula

Tufted Duck – Aythya fuligula

Although winter still has a month to go, there were several signs of spring around the site, not only visually, but audibly. The ‘piping call’ of the Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus has recently returned, with at least nine individuals present after spending their winter along the coast. Redshank Tringa totanus are also now quite vocal and noticeable. By far the loudest clue to the changing season is the raucous calls of the Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus,with much posturing for potential nesting spots in evidence on the islands, most now starting to re-gain their ‘Brown’ hoods.

Redshank - Tringa totanus

Redshank – Tringa totanus

Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus

Oystercatcher – Haematopus ostralegus

Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus

Black-headed Gull – Chroicocephalus ridibundus

It’s always worth keeping an eye out for Birds of Prey when visiting the wetlands, usually the first clue that something is around is when the Lawpings Vanellus vanellus and Teal Anas crecca suddenly all take flight. One on such occasion today a Peregrine Falco peregrinus drifted over the site, heading North-west, showing no real interest in the commotion it was creating below. Another nice bird to connect with was the Barn Owl Tyto alba. Over recent days it has regularly shown late afternoon, giving many people the opportunity to get some good views. Photographically, it was a bit challenging with diminishing light levels, so I was pleased with the shot shown below.

Barn Owl - Tyto alba

Barn Owl – Tyto alba

The ‘passerines’ seemed more ready to pose today than usual, keeping still for that little bit longer, giving me time to find them in the viewfinder, and allow the camera to focus before they disappeared. Robins Erithacus rubecula were everywhere, and seemed more approachable than normal. The Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus and Blue Tits – Parus caeruleus were busy making use of the feeders behind East Hide, again usually a challenge to pin down in the viewfinder. Finally a Rook Corvus frugilegus settled in the tree across the road making a nice composition against the blue sky. Siskins Carduelis spinus are still present around the site, though mainly appear to now be feeding on the ground, rather than in the Alders. Some recent photos of this species and several other species from North Cave can be found on my Flickr Site.

Robin - Erithacus rubecula

Robin – Erithacus rubecula

Blue Tit - Parus caeruleus

Blue Tit – Parus caeruleus

Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus

Long-tailed Tit – Aegithalos caudatus

Rook - Corvus frugilegus

Rook – Corvus frugilegus