Let’s get the undoubted highlight of Sunday’s visit to the Reservoirs out of the way straight away, after 57 days I finally got Pheasant for the patch year list.
In other news; we celebrated the Return of the Native, Jamie P. He had been MIA for most of the last few months, feared lost to an evil gang of Larophiles but, as sure as winter turns to Spring, he suddenly appeared, and to much rejoicing from the old guard (some older than others).
So it was with keen anticipation that JP, myself, Lol B and Dave B set off for walk around the Lockwood. No sooner had I seen my Pheasant (yawns all round) when we heard a singing Chiffchaff, strangely as Jamie had just been asking if any are singing yet!
‘That Chiffchaff looks rather pale’ quoth he, ‘O no he’s at it already!’ thinks I. Well I’ll be darned, it was pale, and had a subtle wing-bar, feint rusty ear coverts, barely any olive tones, very dark legs and bill. It really looked the part for Siberian Chiffchaff. We played a bit of song and it reacted quite strongly, unlike the 2 Common Chiffchaffs nearby which carried on their business regardless. To say Jamie is sharp is an understatement, and he’s in his 4th decade (technically), think what would get found if we could get a child prodigy on the patch, (The transfer window is still open, Dante, if you’re reading thisJ ) It is less than a year since he found the last one on patch. (still there on 27th and heard calling ‘iiip’, the whole enchilada)
|pic Jamie P|
So far our staged intervention was working, but a test lay ahead. Continuing on around the bank, we, alright, mostly me, tried stringing a distant Gull into a Caspian, obviously we had high hopes of finding one given the fact that Jamie’s eye must be well and truly IN, having probably seen more individuals this winter than any other British Birder, I kid you not. I should have known better than to try scamming him, though even he said it could have been a hybrid. A born diplomat.
The drake Scaup is hanging in there, on the ever shrinking water of No.4 reservoir, though numbers of its Tufted Duck comrades are shrinking almost daily. I wonder what it thinks each morning when it wakes up? ‘I could have sworn this reservoir was bigger last night!’ Naturally, given that the levels of Nos. 4 & 5 are about 60% lower than normal our hope for Waders was enormous, our realization of Waders was tiny – 1 Common Sandpiper, and that is one less than we’ve had all Winter. Shorebirds, why do you hate us?
The rest of the morning was a mild disappointment, though that really shouldn’t have come as a surprise given that it is the end of February. We all parted ways but I suggested to Jamie that we check the Filter Beds on the way home as Gull numbers often build up as the day goes on, it was not a hard sell.
|Oh yes, it's in there|
I set up my scope and started to check the close small Gulls for my hoped for Mediterranean, Jamie stared into the distance and then asked to borrow my scope as he had something ‘Interesting’. It was. Very. A cracking 1st Winter Caspian Gull, no less. As always the viewing is difficult here, looking through a double-mesh fence, with half the Gulls distant and/or hiding behind safety barriers, just imagine what
we he could find if we had access…