Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sitting, watching very little.

Circumstances meant that I didn't get an early start this morning, and the weather deteriorated as the day wore on. As I had to go out after lunch, I did a detour to the Restharrow Scrape where I could spend a few minutes quietly watching very little.

This year there's been water in the scrape for the whole year, unlike last year when it dried out by the end of the summer. I wonder f this has much bearing on the amount of food available for visiting birds?

As I suspected it was very quiet, although it is the sort of place that something could drop into at any time. A pair of Pied Wagtails were moving from island to island, the more striking male visited the waters edge right in front of the hide, dashing about picking up insects from the surface of the water.

His partner, or at least his current companion, stayed on the sandy island opposite, although the kept in touch with their calls of "chiswick"

A young Dabchick was diving right in front of the hide when I got there but I didn't see it catch anything then. Later I saw it some distance away, come to the surface with quite a large fish. Do this survive as eggs or fry in wet pockets in the mud when the scrape dries out?

There are quite a lot of Shovelers paddling around at the moment and the males are beginning to look rather smarter than a few weeks ago. They are a bit blotchy and have still got a bit to go before they are in their full breeding plumage.

As with most ducks the females are much plainer, allowing them to be camouflaged when they are sitting on the nest, but she is still a distinctive duck with that whopping beak. There must be a lot of food in the water for them to filter out as they spend most of their time with their heads under the surface sieving through out the edible content. A female Sparrowhawk flashed by while I was sitting in the hide and a Water Rail had a short excursion into view, form the reed bed before dashing back, but no Waxwings put in an appearance. I mention Waxwing because the invasion continues with sizable flocks in a couple of places in Scotland and more reports of smaller numbers filtering down through the country. There were 30 at Chambers Wall, 16 at Grove Ferry and 14 at Wingham today, so there's a good chance that there will be some not far away in the next few days, if you live in East Kent.

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