Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bluewater !!

Bluewater, just the thought of those words are enough to send a chill down my spine, quickly followed by a panic attack, as I mentally search  for an excuse not to go there.

But, there's a quiet little corner tucked away at the back of Bluewater,where you can escape from the nightmare of the shopping development.
    I have often looked at it, as I have driven by, making a mental note, to go back and check to see what wildlife may be there.

There are a number of narrow lakes situated around the base of the old chalk quarry cliffs, most of these are fringed with managed reed beds, Willow and Alder trees have grown, producing a wildlife haven, where it's a pleasure to sit and watch the natural world at large ......and forget about the"hell" that exists on the other side of the road !

The lake I visited was in the far northwest corner, near the service centre at Cliff reach, good access paths around the lake with a bench or two, to allow you to enjoy the atmosphere of the place.

         There was a break in the weather and the sun was shining.

I wanted to go somewhere close and practice with my camera,
 the ideal opportunity.

There was a good number of Coots scattered around the lake, usually I tend to ignore these common birds, but

at this time of the year, the Coots are pairing up and becoming very territorial. Coots displaying various body postures as they patrol their territories often lead to confrontation, so there was chance I may be able to photograph one of the territorial fights which can look spectacular.

This posture I believe is called  "swanning" or " wing arching"  sometimes used in paired display, and also to warn off intruders other than Coots, you can see in this photograph how the neck feathers have been raised in a ruff, with the head held low, in a threat posture.

When a Coot notices a rival near its territory it moves into a "patrol" posture, head lowered and it moves towards its rival, this  posture  is usually noticed by other Coots at some distance away and they take avoiding action, if not, then the Coot accelerates into a " charging" posture head lowered and thrust forward, a noticeable wake behind the bird as it accelerates towards its rival,  this then moves to the next posture known as "Splattering" as the Coot runs across the water towards its rival.

All the Coots were taking avoiding action today, a lot of splattering but no contact, quite interesting to watch and recognise the various body postures, allowing you to anticipate a confrontation and understand what's going on.

This Heron usually quite wary, was content to be photographed, safe at its vantage point, high above the lake.

 In the undergrowth , this Wren caught my eye as it made
                           the most of the winter sunshine.

There is a good selection of common waterfowl found here, providing some good photo opportunities with lots of reflections.
Juvenile mute swans

Canada Goose


Fm Tufted duck

This Cormorant drying its wings showed how bright the sun was.

Good selection of Black Headed gulls in there winter plumage on show, with a few first winter juveniles , easily picked out with their pale orange legs and bill.

First winter Black Headed gull
A flight shot in focus !


Nothing too unusual on this occasion, but a pleasant few hours in the sunshine.

Great Crested Grebe

Well done to Bluewater development for maintaining these areas.

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