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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

North Cave Wetlands and first signs of spring

Goldfinch
On Sunday morning we visited our favourite wetland nature reserve in the county, North Cave Wetlands, and with sunny skies for the most part it was an enjoyable and interesting morning with plenty to see and record. Our main reason for visiting was to see the Green-winged Teal which has been spotted here recently, and though we struggled to identify it amongst the thousands of Eurasian/Common Teal a very friendly couple were kind enough to point it out to us on the far bank. It was too distant for a decent photograph but the white vertical stripe which distinguishes this species (at least as far as drakes are concerned) was clearly visible and provided a good tick to start of 2014. This is only the second ever Green-winged Teal I have ever recorded, the first coming a few years ago at this same location.

A colourful Mallard in the winter sunshine

Goosanders

A very distant record shot of a Pink-footed Goose

Three Goosanders were another welcome sight, as last year I seemed to keep missing these birds at this reserve, while a lone Pink-footed Goose was picked out amongst the mass of Greylag Geese which are seemingly omnipresent at nearly all British wetlands. All the other species of wildfowl and waterfowl one would expect to encounter at this time of year were also present, though the fortunes of different species was interesting with more Wigeon and less Pochard than normal (at least compared to my own very limited records).

Mallard...

and again....

and finally once more :-)

Meanwhile the maize field and the bird feeders nearby provided some nice photographic opportunities with the Goldfinches showing off particularly well, while other common species of finch, as well as Tree Sparrows, Robins, and Reed Buntings were noted in healthy numbers. To the north a Buzzard was spotted and as we made our way along the western perimeter a party of Long-tailed Tits followed us along, calling and roving through the trees as they did.

How can you not be charmed by these gorgeous little birds (1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Meanwhile back at home the mild winter thus far has meant that the first signs of spring are now beginning to manifest themselves, and this morning as I filled up the bird feeders I noticed that the first Winter Aconite is just starting to flower, a heart-warming sight I'm sure you'll agree. However I recall last year that I made a similar observation in early January (Week One & Week Two) but then winter well and truly arrived on the 14th and would persist pretty much for the rest of the month, and it will be interesting to see whether this is an omen or not. Indeed a casual glance at the weather charts is for the first time this winter hinting at something more wintry on the way but the situation is very much on a knife edge and could easily go either way.

A Robin in the hedgerow

Greenfinch enjoying the peanuts

Teasels

First Winter Aconite of the year (08.01.14)