Saturday, 27 April 2013

Listening for Crakes


The week while I was working was a very sunny time with some decent birds turning up in the valley then, along comes Friday and the weather turns with cloud covered skies strong winds and lots of rain typical, the weekend upon us and bird looks to be difficult. I checked the BBC weather for the evening and, in contrast, it showed a very clear night with full moon and wind speeds of no more than 7 mph so, with this in mind I arrived at Grove Ferry five minutes past 1.00am and set about wandering the marsh in the dark listening for Crakes (mainly), Warblers and Owls. Now, those who know me might think how’s a deaf idiot like me supposed to hear a Crake when I have trouble hearing conversation of those around me? Well, as it so happens I come equipped with ‘The Atherstone Reflector MK3’ 20” parabolic dish kindly given to me by the great Gambian birder Clive Barlow, coupled with a directional microphone and minidisc recorder enabling me to hear for quite some distance. Unfortunately no Crakes, Reelers or Owls (Long-eared specifically) were heard although I had some great Nightingale and Sedge Warbler arias. As well as Sedge and Nightingale there were tens, if not hundreds of Marsh Frogs singing, Cuckoo, Redshank, Bittern and Water Rail as well as Thrushes, Wrens, Lapwings and Skylarks all in fine voice. When dawn broke and I was joined by Sue Morton we wandered the reserve noting 12 Cetti’s Warbler, 5 Shelduck, 5 Canada Geese, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Turtle Doves, 8 Marsh Harriers, 2 Grey Herons, several Blackcaps and Whitethroats as well as 21 Mute Swans, A Wood Sandpiper and a Ruff were on the field beside Harrison’s hide while at Marsh hide there were 2 more Ruff and 2 Greenshank. A few Swallows and Sand Martins were whizzing over the Water Meadows an on the lake at Stodmarsh there were 30 Tufted Ducks, 4 Pochards, 8 Great-crested Grebes, 1 1st summer Great Black-backed Gull and 44 Shoveler. A single Reed Warbler was chortling alongside the Lampen Wall, a Little Owl was on a fence post at Undertrees Farm before flying into the barn and back at Harrison’s late morning with Mark Chidwick and Adam Faiers at least 40 Swifts passed over, the Ruff and Wood Sandpiper were still present and on the way out there were 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Ramp pool and a Common Buzzard was over Stodmarsh. Another (the usual) Little Owl was on the fallen stump at Stodmarsh Court Farm as I passed towards Collard’s where several hirrundines were feeding low over the lake with Swift, Swallow House and Sand Martin all present. Only managed to snap a Lesser Black-backed Gull today but have included some images from last week as well.
Lesser Black-backed Gull from the Ramp this morning

Lesser Black-backed Gull from the Ramp this morning

Lesser Black-backed Gull from the Ramp this morning

Lesser Black-backed Gull from the Ramp this morning

Very high up Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier over the Ramp last Sunday(21st)

Very high up Common Buzzards over the Ramp last Sunday(21st)

Female Blackcap 'The Jungle' last Sunday (21st)
 

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