Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday 16th February

I spent the whole morning in Mote Park today, trying to make the most of such a beautiful day. A frost coated the ground first thing, and the temperature felt quite chilly. By mid-morning the warm Sun began to make the temperature rise a little.

A Coal Tit sang cheerfully from a Yew, a Nuthatch was seen climbing a bough of an Oak, 6 Goldcrest were seen and heard, a few parties of Long-tailed Tits were seen, 4 Jay were noted, a female Sparrowhawk flew over as I walked past the Old Bothy, whilst a cock Pheasant called from the garden of the Old Bothy, 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard, 3 Treecreepers were heard calling along the River Len, as I walked along the eastern edge of the Lake a small flock of Siskin flew over, flying towards the Alder wood along the River Len, a Green Woodpecker was watched probing it’s long dagger-like bill into an Ant hill, a Stock Dove perched in an Oak in front of Mote House, a Mediterranean Gull was in the large Gull flock on the playing fields, and an endearing Little Owl was sat just inside it’s hole in an old Oak in front of Mote House.

Spot the Little Owl

On the Lake were 2 Mute Swans, 39 Canada Geese, 11 Pochard, 4 Tuftie, 1 Little Grebe, 2 displaying Great Crested Grebes, and the countless Mallards, Coots and Moorhens.

The Great Crested Grebes courtship display is always a delight to see. I never tire of witnessing these elegant displays and, until this morning, I have never observed the climax to this beautiful courtship, the ‘weed display’, also known as the ‘penguin dance’. After the pair turn away from each other they dive under the surface of the water. Then, both birds simultaneously emerge out of the water clutching pieces of nesting material, belly to belly and with legs paddling frantically, they tread water whilst exaggeratedly shaking their heads. Superb!

Great Crested Grebes

The gull flock on the Lake consisted of at least 14 Common Gulls, and about 63 Black-headed Gulls. Also, in addition to these birds, a Grey Heron stood along the banks of the River Len, a Water Rail called from the large reedbed by the Weir, and, bird of the day, a Snipe. In one of the reedbeds along the eastern edge of the Lake. Fantastic! A first for me in the Park!


Tony Morris said...

Snipe are one of the birds doing badly as breeding birds because there are so few wet bit of agricultural land about. Good to know you've had one in Mote Park.

Warren Baker said...

Nice record simon,
Snipe are less than annual sightings here. A sighting of 8 was reported last week less than a km to the north of my patch.

Steve said...

Great to hear about the Snipe simon - that is a good record for the park

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