"Pipits and a Oyc dropped in". February 2012.

Approaching the end of February a visit to "Mr Bank's Birdland" brought about a couple of signs of the approaching change in seasons. With the mild weather things were on the move and romancing.

My first find was a group of Meadow Pipits feeding on the seeded area not far from the gate. I was able to get a few distant shots and when they took flight I counted 20 birds before they split into groups. A nice start to the morning with a new addition to the year list here.

The Skylarks were very vocal and a couple of pairs were sharing the same seeded area as the Meadow Pipits, the long vegetation nearby hiding their presence until another outburst of song.

During the morning I counted 3 Common Buzzards, with 2 staying very close to the main road. One in particular took a liking to an aerial mast for a perch and despite a bit of balancing looked happy enough there before alighting a road light which was certainly a lot easier to land on.

Previously I had seen a lone Common Shelduck but it did not stay around, on this occasion 1 flew in and landed on the water for some time before it was joined by another, but after a flying a couple of circuits over the main lake it decided to move on taking the first one minutes later.

The Great crested grebes were in courtship mode and were displaying to each other on the smaller lake.

It was whilst watching the Grebes and a single Green sandpiper that I heard an Oystercatcher approaching and after a quick scan I picked it up coming towards the small lake. It did a couple of fly by's before landing out of sight behind the island. But it eventually ventured out and then landed in the nearby grass field to feed before moving to the larger lake. It moved the between the two lakes a couple of times and as I left it was feeding on the grass bank amongst the Canada geese.

Bird species seen: Meadow pipits,Little egret,Little grebe,Green sandpiper,Oystercatcher,Coot,Gadwall,Tufted duck,Shoveler,Teal,Mallard,Pochard,Great crested grebe,Black headed gull,Common gull,Skylark,Blue tit,Great tit,Dunnock,Robin,Greenfinch,Goldfinch,Crow,Rook,Jackdaw,Greylag geese,Canada geese,Buzzard,Kestrel,Reed bunting,Yellowhammer,Pied wagtail,Shelduck,Blackbird,Woodpigeon,Snipe,Magpie,House sparrow,Mute swan.

"Mr Bank's Birdland" 16th February 2012.

Now that the snow and ice had gone the birds were more spread out as usual. The first welcoming sight was a Little Egret on the island, and then from the far side of the island appeared 2 more little Egrets. One actively fed around the entire lake whilst the other 2 preened and moved very little before departing over an hour later. I was happy that I was able to get some shots too and a great start to the morning.

Up till now the only gulls frequenting the lake were Black headed and Common, but on this day I was to get a visit from 2 larger species. The first one to fly in from the south east was Herring Gull which proceeded to land on the water and start to dive bomb the surface, it then drifted back to the small flock on the spit edge and rest up for some time before alighting south again.

The second was an adult Lesser Black Backed gull ( images further below) which flew in from the same direction as the Herring but continued to the far side of the lake where there seemed to be more Common gulls congregating. It too stayed a short while before heading off West. 2 new additions for the gull list though.

1 or maybe 2 Common Buzzards put in an appearance close over the lake and gave me a couple of shots as it banked away, not before moving stuff around.

Teal and Gadwall numbers were better than before, and showing signs of displaying. At least half a dozen Snipe flew from cover and a Green Sandpiper was still present unlike the single Barnacle goose and Dunlin which were not to be seen.

Species seen: Teal,Gadwall,Shoveler,Lapwing,Common Gull,Black headed Gull,Common Snipe,Wigeon,Greylag geese,Canada geese,Sparrowhawk,Coot,Tufted duck,Pied Wagtail,Woodpigeon,Pochard,Little Egret,Jackdaw,Great crested grebe,Common Buzzard,Great tit,Little grebe,Rook,Mallard,Carrion Crow,Green Sandpiper,Green Woodpecker,Magpie,Fieldfare,Blue tit,Robin,Kestrel,Mute Swan,Moorhen,Cormorant,Grey Heron.

"Mr Bank's Birdland". 7th February 2012.

With snow still on the ground but the roads clear I did my rounds at the patch. Except for a stretch through the centre of the main lake, the water was still frozen. A quick scan from the south side revealed plenty of activity in the unfrozen water and immediately I located a pair of Goosander. Another new species for my list here and a welcome sight.

I then spied a couple of waders sat up on the ice amongst the Lapwings. Surely these were 2 of the Dunlin group S.Blain had found the week before, unfortunately they took flight minutes later and headed for the northern shoreline. I then sat on the ground under a cammo net and waited for their return, but they seemed content to stay busily feeding along the north side.

After watching everything for some time the numb bum commanded me to get up and move around the lake, as I ventured closer to the northern shore I could still see at least one Dunlin still active along the waters edge and now accompanied by a Green Sandpiper. I was able to get some record shots as they scoured the lakes edge.

The local Greylag flock moved from field to water a few times and whilst scanning through them I picked out a lone Barnacle goose which added another new species to the growing list. In the image below it is the top left bird, which wasnt picked out until reviewing the days pictures.

Every time I visit there seems to be more Common Gulls present, and what with the frozen waters the gull numbers seemed swelled in general. The same can be said for the Wigeon, they numbered 30 to 40 and continually moved from grass to lake.

In the image below there is a Snipe hiding up. It had been moving along the ditch until it saw me then went to ground as it were'. But with a female Blackbird throwing earth around left right and centre it decided to depart, and the third Common Snipe seen so maybe next time I might be able to get a image - fingers crossed, especially if the freeze continues to move them from the lakes edge.

Species seen: Goosander,Green Sandpiper,Dunlin,Moorhen,Coot,Wigeon,Teal,Mallard,Tufted duck,Pochard,Gadwall,Greylag geese,Barnacle goose,Carrion crow,Little grebe,Great crested grebe,Black headed gull,Common gull,Jackdaw,Lapwing,Mute swan,Rook,Greenfinch,Cormorant,Common snipe,Magpie,Green woodpecker,Shoveler,Pied wagtail,Skylark,Kestrel,Blackbird.