179 – Green Winged Teal
Helen and I made a short visit to North Cave Wetlands today – our first visit there for about eighteen months.
It was a sunny (but windy) February day, so we went wrapped-up warmly against the cold. I’d read the recent sightings blog online and noted that a Green Winged Teal had been around the reserve for the previous few days, and I hoped that we were in with a chance of spotting it.
After parkng in Dryham Lane, Helen and I walked into the (covered) viewing platform which looks Northwards over Village Lake. In the past, a number of feeders had been strung up across a ‘goal-post like’ structure about twenty feet in-front of the platform. We were dismayed to discover today, that this system is no longer there now. We’ve seen lots of good birds there in the past including: Brambling, Siskin and large flocks of Chaffinch.
The feeders haven’t been completely removed however, now they have been attached directly to the upright beams of the viewing platform itself. On one hand this allows much closer viewing of less-timid birds (there were loads of Long Tailed Tits around here today), but it does mean that there is much less chance of seeing Bramblings for instance, which prefer to feed on the ground below feeders, picking up the seeds which have fallen from above.
Because the feeders were nearly empty today, I nipped back to the car and returned with a large quantity of birdseed that I just happen to have in the boot. I sprinkled it liberally on all the horizontal surfaces I could find, and within two minutes Helen and I were snapping away at a Robin, a Blue Tit and a Great Tit. The lighting was really good and we were pleased with our efforts.
Next we walked along the North Path which takes us to East Hide and thence the Tower Hide. The East hide looks directly onto Village Lake, and it is here that there is always a huge conglomeration of waterfowl. Was the elusive Green Winged Teal amongst this throng, I wondered?
There were so many assorted birds here (Teal, Wigeon, Redshank, Mallard, Coot, Swans etc), and they are somewhat distant from the hide, so it was difficult trying to spot one particular bird. I decided to adopt the ‘splatter-gun’ approach and take several photos in the hope of being able to identify the GWT later-on at home in the comfort of my armchair!
It was blowing quite a gale into our faces in the East Hide, so we left after about fifteen minutes and moved on to the Tower Hide. This is an exciting hide being in an elevated position with a near 360° view over the most of the reserve. On our last visit here Helen and I were treated to a spectacular hunting-display by a Barn Owl that was quite close to the hide. As we watched it quartering the landscape it was suddenly chased-off by a Sparrowhawk – wow!
There were no Barn Owls or Sparrowhawks to be seen here today, but there was the Green Winged Teal in all its glory, sitting with a group of ordinary (Eurasian) Teal near the far bank. Whoopee – my first new bird in thirteen months!
I made sure I took quite a few shots of the bird. It was busy preening itself, completely unaware of the paparazzo treatment it was receiving!
As we left the hide a flock of Linnets flew overhead, but they were much too fast to magage to capture a meaningful photograph of them. However, it was a nice way to end our brief, but productive visit to North Cave. I really do like this reserve, and will be back again in the Spring.