First post in quite a while, this hasn’t been me being lazy I literally haven’t found the time to get out and see any wildlife in about a month. However, this morning with the weather forecast looking okay I decided to get up early, and opted for some local birding (over some landscape photography further afield).
My alarm, or as we call him Freddie, woke me up at 6 and so I headed straight out and up to Erewash Meadows, walking in under the A610 bridge and up the railway footbridge to Railway Marsh, it was a bitter morning with a heavy frost (scraping the car in May!) and there was a mist hanging over the water and flooded fields as I made my way across. The footpath was awful too and I soon regretted not wearing wellies, my feet were soon squelching (must sort out waterproofing on those walking shoes) and my hands were chilled, though that didn’t bother the Mallard ducklings I disturbed walking under the railway bridge – they soon disappeared with their mum back the way they were coming as I hove into view though. While they weren’t bothered by the cold the dandelions looked like they weren’t expecting it.
On the reserve the Greylag Geese were honking and a couple of other Mallard were on the pond, two Sedge Warbler trilled and thrilled in the sedge, living up to their name. A Robin and Blackbird rattled away too, and Blue Tit and Great Tit were also moving along the hedgerows. Over the water a Black Headed Gull or two floated around calling and the obligatory Wood Pigeons flew overhead.
Over the bridge and I checked out a few wildflowers in the water, I’m afraid my id skills aren’t up to much but I have tried to id them, I have them as Cuckooflower and Common Water Crowfoot, let me know what you think.
A couple of Sand Martins buzzed over the marsh, as did a Shoveler, and walking towards the kennels the Greylag flapped after me, skimming the hedgerows like an enemy fighter coming in low under radar, only giving away their position by noisy honking, before finally skidding a daring landing on the wet field to feed. A single Goldfinch greeted me up at the kennels but otherwise my walk was fairly birdless except a female Chaffinch by the river and tits chattering along unseen in the hedges. Just past the kennels a Whitethroat warbled away and chased along after a Blue Tit, though whether it was seeing them off or saying hello I couldn’t be sure. Also a Reed Bunting.
Up at Big Marsh I scanned the water, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Black Headed Gull, Mallard and Canada Geese were all on the water, as was a beautiful male Mandarin sweeping along with his “sail” up. A few Swift started to make their way over the water feeding and these increased in number as I started my return, through the muddy hills and hollows, and finally arriving out the wood I saw several Swifts and Swallows swooping and playing in the sunshine – this is what spring’s about!
A steady walk back, my cold and wet feet forgotten now spring was in action around me, a bee buzzed past but the morning was still too young for me to see a butterfly – had the sunshine lasted this would have been a certainty. A Lapwing, and then another, flew over towards Big Marsh and as I arrived back at the southern end of the reserve I found a pair – with one bird on the wing – and, angry at my presence, the other flew up and circled me calling constantly, territorial behaviour certainly. I took the hint and left, though not before a call “fsssss” just over my head had me scanning the air, before I located a Snipe twisting and turning among the Swallows before it settled down to rest in the reeds.
Over towards Aldercar Flash I searched out two Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover among the mud, exactly as described to me by a someone I’d met earlier whos name escapes me (he has two black labs – I met him at the SEO a few years ago) , also there were nesting Black Headed Gull and a male Tufted Duck and a couple of Mallard. Three Common Terns nearly surprised me as they flew up the valley.
Making my way back along Stoney Lane to the car the Reed Warblers were making a racket, great to see them back, and I had a surprise further up where a family of Brown Rats were feeding on some seed spilled on the road. There were up to ten and I got some photographs at close quarters, before walking over the broken road surface and having them spew out under my feet scattering from under the loose stones – if you don’t like rats beware of walking this way! We used to have two as pets so I wasn’t too bothered though there’s still something primeval about the shudder you feel with that number of rodents so close and fast.