Woolston Eyes 03.05.16

Overcast and windy at first, sunny and warm (!) later

The familiar setting of Weir Lane seemed slightly altered this bright May morning as I turned into it off the A57 for it resembled an overspill car-park, when an oversubscribed event takes place at a venue … and I just couldn’t wait to find out what this was …..

Ah then it came back to me …. I wasn’t here to saunter with ease about the Woolston Eyes Reserve as is my wont, for here assembled stood Team Tuesday raring to take me round the place … ready to offer help and advice such is their collective encyclopaedic knowledge of the natural world!

In truth, I feel TT being such an accommodating and charitable group simply wished to delude me into thinking that I was once more ‘sort-of’ at the helm,  as in days of yore … I happily obliged them in their indulgence and off we marched to the weir.

Tufted Duck not yet bothering to engage with the breeding season (there is still plenty of time for them so early in May) dominated the open water of the basin, whilst a pair of Buzzard sauntered about the sky. A lone Pochard, a pair of Gadwall, a reed-hugging Moorhen and a Great Crested Grebe kept our scribe happily busy, but before the ink could dry on the ‘day-list’ we pushed on, for this Reserve had plenty more pen-draining birds to note! Whitethroat and Willow Warbler then reminded us that, despite of all assembled being clad in winter clothing, this was SPRING, and these much travelled migrants had once more pitched up on our shore ready to produce the next fresh faced generation, whatever the wondrous UK weather offered! A Cetti’s Warbler then tried its best to be heard; a feat not normally difficult for this preposterously loud yet skulking bird, but it was quite a distance away over on No3 bed, thus all considering it did what it says on the can – ‘this bird WILL be heard’. This once strictly continental bird then sparked a Positive/Negative discussion as to the fate of our UK bird population. Mr Doom and Gloom aka ‘me’ has ‘always’ been known by TT to bemoan the loss of so many birds in the UK (there should be 40 million more birds around today in the UK – and this loss is only in my lifetime) … yet here we were with a bird I had never encountered in this fair Isle when I was a lad thus in this instance we could say—phew we have a survival success whereby at least this and such as the Little Egret have expanded their range into the UK.

Lecture over, we headed to and soon gained the footbridge that leads onto No3 bed. Here we were piped on board by that most accomplished songster, the Blackcap. Several footfalls later and most of the team were able to gain views across the reedbeds of this ‘island of tranquilly’—well it certainly looked impressive, but as the air was bursting with the calls of the Black-Headed Gull breeding colony I could with ease be challenged about my description of this raucous sounding ‘tranquil’ place! The Morgan Hide then gave all shelter from that strange orb in the sky that had mysteriously appeared seemingly from nowhere this third of May … none had yet been able to ascribe a name to this heavenly body other than the fact that in the depths of our collective memories we were sure to unearth its name … one day.

_MG_0154The search was then on for more summer migrants, but first all assembled had to pause for a aw ain’t that cute’ moment as a pair of Greylag Geese paraded their goslings in front of the hide.
The call then went up that a pair of Black Necked Grebe had been noted out on the open water and all eyes moved into a ‘I must see these beauties’ mode.  Happily everyone connected with these showy birds who never fail to impress the retina with their extreme beauty.

A relaxed session of chat, snacking and sorties into bird identification then followed in which birds ranging from Little Grebe to Greenfinch were noted,with a brief pause from this being taken when Kieran, our very own No3 bed Bird Ringing expert, invited us to view a male Bullfinch that he had caught whilst carrying out his voluntary bird ringing work on this excellent reserve! (Giving a new meaning perhaps to ‘a bird in the hand’ for the Team! ed.)

Time,as it ever does, marched on, and we decided to retreat back to our cars, but this was not taken by a simple route for there was the ‘joy’ of trying to differentiate between the songs of Reed and Sedge Warbler … a lesson we all learnt from the elevated east hide! Then when it was suggested that we clear our minds (after this slightly confusing fusion of the two songs by setting a marching pace that Napoleon’s army would have been proud of when they too left a ‘difficult situation) all happily agreed, and off we set to Weir Lane – pausing for a non-event twitch – but at least we tried – and I’m sure that there will be other Whinchats! Bridge re-crossed, Team Tuesday moved happily back to base promising that they would reconvene on my Moss next week – yes one has to admit TT are martyrs to the cause! (Dave Steel)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great Crested Grebe
  3. Black-necked Grebe
  4. Cormorant
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Mute Swan
  7. Greylag Goose
  8. Canada Goose
  9. Shelduck
  10. Gadwall
  11. Mallard
  12. Pochard
  13. Tufted Duck
  14. Buzzard
  15. Kestrel
  16. Pheasant
  17. Moorhen
  18. Coot
  19. Lapwing
  20. Black-headed Gull
  21. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  22. Wood Pigeon
  23. Collared Dove
  24. Sand martin
  25. Swallow
  26. Dunnock
  27. Blackbird
  28. Sedge Warbler
  29. Whitethroat
  30. Blackcap
  31. Chiffchaff
  32. Willow Warbler
  33. Wren
  34. Robin
  35. Long-tailed Tit
  36. Blue Tit
  37. Great Tit
  38. Magpie
  39. Carrion Crow
  40. House Sparrow
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Greenfinch
  43. Bullfinch
  44. Reed Bunting

… and in addition to the butterflies shown below, a Comma was spotted.

(All photos by John Hancock)



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