Sunday, 12 February 2017

'Splattering' on the Marsh !

My intention today was to enjoy a walk around the marshes, find a quite hide and photograph some waterbirds and forget the woes of the world, Brexit and Donald  B***** Trump.
 Unfortunately my solitude in the hide was to be rudely interrupted by a group of naturalists who wanted to discuss the woes of the world as they stomped around the hide.
Its usally at times like this I pack up my gear  and move on, but I decided to sit this one out, and wait for them to move on. 
Especially as the Coots in front of the Hide were very agitated with each other, and the potential for some Coot action was on the cards. 
Its at this time of the year Coots are beginning to pair up and become very territorial, strange when you think that they have spent most of the winter in large groups at peace with each other.
I have been trying to capture one of these territorial battles for some time now, but to no avail as yet.
I have learnt the various postures leading up to a territorial dispute, "Swanning" as shown below.

Coot in aggressive display  referred as "Swanning"
"Patrolling" and "Cruising" easy to spot this one, head and neck are lowered  down close to water surface and theirs a visible wake behind the coot as it approaches the intruder who has ventured to close to its territory.

Coot patrolling 
This usally leads to the "Splatter", one Coot aggressively chasing another across the surface of the water, this usally ends with the intruding Coot retreating at speed in a "splatter" I managed to capture a few of these territorial "splattering" none of which ended up as a" territorial Battle" which is what I am ultimately after.

Hidden on the grassy islands in front of the hide were a few Snipe, Skylarks searching for seeds, three or four Pied Wagtails flew in for a wash and brush up and a brief sighting of a  distant Water Pipit.

Wigeon with some Skylarks in the background


Distant Water Pipit
Canada Geese were very vocal as normal and provided a few  fly-by shots

Mute Swans are always easy to lock on to for flight photograph.

A distant Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard provided some raptor interest but the hoped for Short- Earred Owls did not show for me.

 Time to move on, and I made my way around the circuit of Marshes, the reedbeds have been cut in places and provide some good viewing opportunities.
I finally caught sight of some movement in the reeds, expecting a Coot or Moorhen, it was a pleasant surprise when this Water Rail finally showed itself very briefly.

Water Rail
At the woodland feeding station, all the usual birds were showing, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit and Great Tit. I watched a male Reed Bunting making its way to the feeders and nearly caught a good flight image.

Reed Bunting
This Grey Squirrel which was hanging around the feeding station looked like it was having a good winter, fattest Grey Squirrel I have seen for a while.

Just a single sighting of a Stonechat

As for the water birds,  I had good views of Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Mallard  and Shoveller.

Wigeon in formation
Drake Wigeon

An enjoyable walk around the marshes, won't be long before the Warblers start to return.

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