North Cave Wetlands – 02/03/14

Main Lake

Main Lake

A cold but clear morning saw me once again head off to my ‘local’ at North Cave. Evidence of the cold was a partially frozen Main Lake, where several hundred Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus were roosting on the ice. As the day warmed the ice rapidly thawed, the photo above showing the main lake now free of ice and flat calm, producing some nice reflections in the water. I always park and start at the South Hide, this giving me two opportunities to photograph any birds close to the hide on one visit. I decided to walk round the reserve in an anti-clockwise direction on this occasion, to keep the early sun behind me as I walk along the northern path. This turned out to be fortuitous, as I was informed that an Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides was on Island Lake. This species is a scarce visitor from the north, more at home in Greenland. When I reached Turret Hide there were already a small number of photographers ‘snapping’ away. It was showing well and was a 1st winter bird. For me it’s been a while since I last connected with this species, so it was nice to get good views and a few photos. It didn’t hang around for long, so I would have definitely missed it if I’d taken my usual clockwise walk. In addition several other gulls made their way onto my memory card, a pair of 1st winter Herring Gulls Larus argentatus being the closest relative to the Iceland Gull L. glaucoides. Another 1st winter bird was a Common Gull Larus canus, common as a winter visitor, but scarcer during the summer months. Last but not least were the Black-headed Gulls L. ridibundus, some now in full breeding plumage.

Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus

Black-headed Gull – Larus ridibundus

Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoides

Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides

Herring Gull - Larus argentatus

Herring Gull – Larus argentatus

Common Gull - Larus canus

Common Gull – Larus canus

Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus

Black-headed Gull – Larus ridibundus

Most of the waterfowl today were keeping their distance, so not as many photos on this visit. It was however nice to see another rare visitor, a nice looking ‘Redhead’, female Smew Mergellus albellus. It was on the more secluded Far Lake and was wary of any movement, keeping to the far bank. I did manage a ‘record’ shot as seen below. Keeping up the ‘Redhead’ theme, a nice male Pochard Aythya ferina was on Carp Lake, and as usual, the ubiquitous Coot Fulica atra manages to get into the frame (Platinum Blonde?).

Smew - Mergellus albellus

‘Redhead’ Smew – Mergellus albellus

Pochard - Aythya ferina

Pochard – Aythya ferina

Coot - Fulica atra

Coot – Fulica atra

Around the site many birds are now proclaiming their territories and are in full song. Near the South Hide a Robin Erithacus rubecula showed nicely and produced a really pleasing shot. Nearby a male Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus was trying to attract a mate with little success, most of the females finding the Wild Bird Crop more to their liking at the moment.

Robin - Erithacus rubecula

Robin – Erithacus rubecula

Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus

Female Reed Bunting – Emberiza schoeniclus

Though not at North Cave Wetlands a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was found thermalling at South Cliffe. They can normally be seen from North Cave, though distant, along the ridge to the north-east.

Buzzard - Buteo buteo

Buzzard – Buteo buteo

More photos on Flickr