Monday, 19 February 2007

Red-crested Pochard, Dinton Pastures. 18th Feb 2007.

Red-crested Pochard.

An afternoon visit to Dinton Pastures, Wokingham, Berks today hoping to catch up with the Drake Red-crested Pochard.At Dinton I walked around White Swan Lake and caught up with the Red-crested Pochard feeding in the North-West corner, a pair of Coots shot out from the bank as I approached and disturbed everything including the R C Pochard, slowly it made it's way back towards the bank and began feeding again.The male is easily identified with it's flame red head, pink bill and white flanks.
With Lavell's Lakes a stone throw away I decided to pop in and see what was about, a Green Woodpecker called from the car park as I walked in to the reserve and a handful of Redwings were busy feeding on berries before flying off at the sight of me walking towards them.I entered Tern hide and set up my scope, the lake was fairly quiet and I concentrated on looking for the Bitterns.Looking through the reeds for what seemed like ages I needed to take a break as my eyes started getting "reeditus", a common problem encountered by bird watchers that have been staring through a scope at reed beds for too long, while I waited for my eyes to regain normal vision I spotted a male Roe Deer feeding on the bank, I could clearly see the velvet growing from his head that would in time form his Antlers, he only stopped his search for food to sniff the air and check for danger and when he knew he was safe he continued slowly along the bank.
After my vision had returned to normal I started looking through the reed beds again, concentrating on areas that the Bitterns had been seen previously in the main island, I was just getting to the point where I had seen them on my previous visits when I noticed the tops of the reeds slowly bending over before springing back up again, I watched closely as finally a Bittern appeared, it moved to one of it's usual locations and started preening deep in the reeds.This Bittern is the darker of the two birds that have been present and it's dark crown and markings stood out well through the reeds.It never ceases to amaze me that a bird this size can disappear in to reeds, their markings camouflage them perfectly and when the bird is motionless it can be extremely difficult to pick them out.I watched it from 3.30pm till 5pm when it slowly made it's way through the reeds and out of sight.
Back in Frieth the pair of Little Owls that were seen on Saturday were sat together on a farm gate.

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