Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Valentines Day at Sculthorpe

It was a brisk morning on Sunday, but that didn't stop us getting some wildlife into our 'Valentine's Day'! It also didn't stop the wildlife from putting on a show, we had some great views of a variety of bird species. Unfortunately, my photos do not do our views justice!

The viewing panel looking over a variety of feeders near the information boards at the very start of the boardwalk is usually where we see the biggest variety of bird species, but there were fewer here today. There were a few blue, coal and great tits flitting to and fro, but that was the limit for this morning. Things got much more exciting after we arrived at the woodland hide.

Walking along the boardwalk we were somewhat sheltered from the cool wind, which may have explained the absence of a number of birds at our previous stop. Walking the woodland loop, we spotted a male siskin dining on nyger seeds strung high up in the trees. On reaching the woodland hide we were greeted with views of numerous chaffinches, greenfinches and tits. After around five minutes, everything in sight scattered. We knew there had to be something predatory around. It was at this point that a few other visitors entered the hide and we had to explain why we were looking so intently at a landscape devoid of birds. Suddenly a dark brown, arrow-like shape scythed into view and through the trees, causing all of the hidden smaller birds to flee to new shelter. A sparrowhawk. It deftly avoided branches and flew through gaps which appeared far too small. After several attempts, the hunter gave up and carried on across the surrounding fields. As soon as the finches and tits decided the coast was clear, they returned in force, calling loudly. The great tits were the first to venture forth into the open and onto the feeders, soon followed by the blue and long tailed tits. The long tailed tits were a pair chatting to each other, in calls I wouldn't normally associate with this species, in the short shrubs directly in front of the hide. It didn't take long for a pair of bullfinches to join in either. They began to defend their feeding perches from other birds. As the other birds began to disappear, a brambling timidly entered the scene and kept well hidden amongst the small leaves and branches.

The walk along the boardwalk was quiet in terms of what we could see, but birds could be heard around us. There was little to be seen at the Fen hide, but the new tower hide had some wonderful birds feeding outside the shutters looking over the woodland. A new bird for us was a lesser redpoll that joined a charm of goldfinches on one of the long feeders. A subtly beautiful little bird. A marsh tit also joined the feast. However, this hide was busy, so once we'd had a good view, we left and marched quickly back to the car in an attempt to warm up!

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