Tuesday 28 December
|The main water at Fishlakes Nature Reserve seen from the roadside observation area
With the rain finally just about stopped, along with Jenny and brother-in-law, Chris we set off for Fishlakes Meadow Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Romsey. Arriving just over thirty-five minutes later the rain had stopped but it was still wet underfoot, but a solid path as we entered the reserve, and a strong wind blowing. The initial walk alongside the brook produced Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird and Blue Tits having already observed our first Wood Pigeon upon arrival. Always the occasional Carrion Crow in the air or settled on a nearby tree but then the lovely sight of three Buzzards soaring above us. At the same time, as we were about to enter the reserve proper, a pair of Kestrels in front working the wet meadow.
Moving through the kissing gate and onwards to the path leading to the two observation screen a cock Pheasant was very close and gradually moved away through the grass and deep puddles as a Jay flew low across the filed immediately behind him. Then it was through the next gate to the screens and a recently posted notice, dated today, warning of a flooded path at a depth of three inches. A Heron flew up from next to the fence and landed a little further away. Ere long we found the pool at which point Jenny realised that her shoes were not appropriate, so she and Chris reversed their tracks to take the long walk circumventing the lakes and picking up a Great Tit on their long journey.
Me? I carried on and once through the ten metre swimming pool with equally wet trainers and socks eventually arrived at the first screen having listened to a noisy calling Cetti's Warbler. Moving on to the second, almost adjacent, viewing screen covering the back of the main pool, I found a couple of Mute Swans and the same number of Canada Geese. On the far side a resting Heron and more Carrion Crows near to the trees. A magnificent Marsh Harrier wandered into sight and was mobbed by the Carrion Crows. Not too bothered the raptor eventually made its way back along the far side of the water. Out of the long grasses to my right a total of nine Snipe eventually dashed low and fast to the reeds in front of those watching and quickly out of sight. Away to my right and over the main water a broken flock of more than 120 Greylag Geese dropped out of the sky and, presumably, onto the neighbouring water.
|Distant Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Time for a repeat swim as I made my way back along the flooded path, stopping to watch the Robin watching me, past the flooded meadow which now held another Heron, and on to the main path back to the car park. At this point, although having suggested their would be no more rain during daylight hours, the light drizzle returned with a vengeance and it was soon a question of storing camera and bins and getting back to the car as soon as possible, albeit I did notice the first Magpie of the morning.
|Heron Ardea cinerea
Once back at the locked car and no Jenny it was either stand around and get wet or continue on under Fishlake Meadows road and up onto the road itself to seek out the observation gap in the hedge that overlooked the main water as informed when at the second observation scree. And my word it was certainly worth the visit, especially as the rain had stopped and kept the wet feet moving and my mind pretending that my socks were actually drying inside the wet trainers! Obviously their were birds to be seen.
Almost in front of me next to some dead trees in the water a number of Black-headed and two Great Black-backed Gulls along with the resident Coots. Beyond the trees a large number of Pochard and right at the back a smaller number of Wigeon. Away to the right at the back the small flock of Mallard and in front of the reeds many of the Greylag Geese. Using the scope I was also able to find more then a a handful of resting Cormorants and, as I watched, a Gadwall landed on the water and revealed a further two.
Finally scoping the bases of the trees trying to get a clearer view of the Great Black-backed Gulls I found two small resting ducks that certainly seemed strange, even in the dull light. Only when I was trying to make sense of two spotty, small, female Mallards that the penny dropped and I realised that I was looking at a pair of female Mandarin Ducks, identical in markings to my Collins. camera out of bag and try and locate the mandarins as two Pintails then also dropped into the area with their upturned beaks and yellow backsides. But the lady observer next to me had also found the former for confirmation but in the rush to try and get the wanted photo a double whammy; the Mandarins dived and then moved away for cover and shelter and I ended up photographing the Pintails. A sort of drat and double drat! Not really a consolation to find more Magpies away in the distance so back to the car and home to dry and change my socks, etc. But, on the whole, a pleasant outing and 30 species seen.
|Pintails Anas acuta with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mandarin Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Pheasant, Cormorant, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Great Back-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow.