Monday, 22 October 2012

f... OWLmere

Ok so it's been a while since I last posted, and a lot has happened since. In order of importance...
  • Wife had a baby (Aimee) Gorgeous little lump of screaming flesh
  • Accepted a challenge on behalf of a Charity to complete the Three Peaks next June
  • Pretty much given up photography to spend more time improving my birding skills
  • Sold my lens, and bought a very nice Nikon ED Scope and Manfrotto Tripod
So due to the last few months being all about preperations for the baby, and following on actually doing the baby things my ability to get out in the field has been limited. So when I received a text from Steve Drake from Dagenham Chase LNR inviting me down to RSPB Fowlmere I jumped at the chance.

Not the Water Rail we saw

I had never been to Fowlmere, and I love going to new reserves to see what they have to offer. Fowlmere is a beautiful natural spot with a mixture of boardwalk and trails leading around the reserves. There are a few hides, overlooking various areas including a Spring, and the Reedbed. The main reason to go was that a pair of Barn Owls had successfully bred, and the offspring were getting ready to fledge. Indeed when we arrived at the point from which you can view the nestbox two of the four young were outside the box. They were beautiful in their adult plumage (still a bit rough around the edges). Sadly they only hung about outside for a minute or so. By the time I had my scope up they had sought shelter back inside the box.

Steve had arranged to meet up with Matt, a local birder with much better knowledge than I. For me it is always a joy to be with a knowledgeable birder, I always walk away knowing more than before. Matt walked us to the Spring Hide hoping to see a Kingfisher, instead we had a view of a tree alive with Siskin, with a few Goldfinch thrown in for good measure. Indeed Siskin seemed to be the bird of the day. They were in such abundance that wherever we were we were pretty much always accompanied by them.

A Bearded Tit that was heard, but not seen

Walking on to the Reedbed hide we were joined by Rob, another local birder, and again very knowledgeable. Matt had earlier noted the call of a Water Rail, and when we arrived at the hide we quickly spotted one. The Kingfisher that was missing from the Spring hide was here also. In fact it is the longest I've been in the presence of a Kingfisher, he was pretty much present for the entire time we were in the hide. We could see flocks of Redwing going over, and a Redpoll (which I missed). There was the definate call of a flock of Bearded Tit coming from the back of the reeds, but none were visible. A Muntjac Deer having a drink of the far side of the pool was a lovely thing to see too.

Moving on we went back on the trail around the reserve. Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch, and more Siskin joined us on the walk, as did a Fallow Deer. After breaking off the trail to a hedge across a field to see a Yellowhammer Steve and I returned to the trail and back to the car. One thing I noted about the reserve is the clarity of the water. The reserve is on watercress land, and the natural springs give crystal clear water all around the streams. This was proven when Steve saw a freshwater crayfish making it's way across one of the streams.

Back to the car and home in time for lunch, and an afternoon trip to Hainault Forest CP with the family.

The pictures are ones I took in the past, I may return to photography one day, but for now I'm just enjoying the birding.