Friday, 20 July 2012

Mink, Voles and Partridges...

The past few days have been fantastic days for photography (certainly not the weather which continues to be miserable). On Monday, the weather forecast was particularly dull so I therefore opted for a day at Dinton Pastures Country Park, Reading so I could shelter in the hides during the heavy showers. The lakes were, unsurprisingly, completed flooded with no sign of any scrapes though surprisingly a Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher were seen on the lake margins. Last week at the site an American Mink was reported destroying the Tern Rafts and to my amazement, when I left the Bittern Hide there he was on the footpath casually dragging away his prey (a very unlucky rabbit). He quickly ran off but obviously returned later on because the Rabbit was no longer on the footpath upon my return. I then went over to Lea Farm and en route I photographed a Grass Snake again found on the footpath. I then spent the next hour or so photographing the Common Terns conveniently posing on the perches 20 metres in front of the hides.
On Tuesday I took a trip to Birdworld in Farnham to practice on some captive birds. While there I spoke to one of the guides who informed me of a pair of Wild Grey Partridges in a field to the rear of the park and after 20 minutes of waiting I was looking at my first Grey Partridge. This individual however was remarkably tame, though the setting wasn't ideal (bricks!). The collection at Birdworld was extremely impressive with over 160 species of captive birds.
And finally, on Wednesday we went to Arundel WWT. First of all we walked along the moat surrounding Arundel Castle to look for Water Voles and quickly found 2 swimming incredibly close at times. One even came onto our side of the bank and was oblivious to school groups etc. passing by him. We then went into the wetlands centre itself and covered the collection first, followed by the hides. The collection was an opportunity for me to photograph species such as Common Scoters up close which can normally only be seen hundreds of metres offshore! The woodland hide allowed us to get very close views of Pheasants, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings but the scrape hide was incredibly quiet with a Male Mandarin in eclipse plumage being the only thing of note, and is most likely an escape from Arundel's vast collection. The Sand Martin hide however was very productive with a Common Tern perched about 15 metres away.We then found a Juvenile Dunlin very close to the hide. He seemed far smaller than the bird I photographed in Scotland last year though this is perhaps because he was a juvenile. We then went back to the Water Voles and we again quickly found them!
All in all a great few days which has left me with nearly 5000 photos to sort through and edit!!

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