Monday, 13 February 2012

Water End (13th February)

The occurrence of a Jack Snipe within biking distance of my house was a nice surprise so I decided to make the trip to Water End, nr Gaddesdon.


I started out at Nettledon Lane around 9:00am (with helpful direction from Dan Forder, thanks Dan) and headed over the field towards the wooden bridge.  A Yellowhammer and 3 Reed Buntings were present, followed by a single Buzzard.  I soon approached the stream when suddenly a small Snipe species (probably the JACK SNIPE erupted from the exact spot in which it was reported yesterday), it made a brief round circuit of the watercress beds before heading of in a strong easterly direction.  Unfortunately, with the key bird gone for the day my spirits were dampened.  However, a Grey Wagtail was a nice fined feeding along the river and a Grey Heron remained perched in a tree further south down the river.  The highlight following the probable Jack Snipe was the surprise find of a winter plumaged WATER PIPIT (a year tick) feeding just south of the wooden bridge amongst the cress.

Water Pipit, displaying the characteristic buff supercilium of a winter plumaged bird

 streaking on chest more smudged than on Rock Pipit

After some time of watching it I took my eyes of of it before it disappeared.  The small ponds just to the north of the little bridge were also rather productive and held a stunning Pintail, 2 Little Grebes and 4 Gadwall (2,2).  The cress beds to the north of the wooden bridge held 3 Yellowhammers (1,2), a flyover Meadow Pipit, a second Snipe species, that I accidentally flushed and 17 Teal.  Also along the same stretch of river was a single Little Egret, 2 Grey Wagtails, 1 Grey Heron and another Snipe that fed nicely in the open allowing me to take some more digiescope shots.


I was also glad to refined the WATER PIPIT again feeding amongst the cress once again, yet as I reached the Piper's Hill I heard the WATER PIPIT take of once again from behind me before heading back towards the south cress beds once again.  There was also an impressive passage of Redwing and Fieldfare, most of which were traveling in a northerly direction, the counts peaked around mid-morning and totaled to at least 479+ Fieldfare and 192+ Redwing.  At the northern end of the cress beds I met up with Stuart Harrison and together decided to revisit the Jack Snipe location to retry our luck.  Unfortunately nothing showed, however a Kestrel, 2 Mistle Thrushes (amongst the flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing) as well as a single Kingfisher along the river were all nice surprises.  After giving up looking from the bridge we noted a total of 13 Teal resting on the side of the bank and 2 Wigeon (1,1) and 2 Canada Geese flew in.  As we made our way back through the fields, 1 Song Thrush was of note as were 2 Skylarks chasing each other around the field within meters of were I was standing and finally, 1 Red Kite pointed out by Stuart flying west over Heizdin's Wood.


With Stuart's directions to the fish ponds just south of Water End I decided to pay them a short visit.  Very little was of note, partly due to the fact that the ponds were largely frozen solid and the only open areas of water were out of view.  However, 1 Grey Heron was perched around the ponds a total of 32 Fieldfare flew over in a NW direction, 1 Green Woodpecker was heard and 4 Teal took of from the water.


I finished my trip early so still had some time to spend at another sight.  I settled on visiting the Kings Langley Fisheries, by now rain was setting in and the weather didn't look to improve.  I rounded of the day with a wildfowl count of 23 Tufted Ducks, 14 Pochard, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Gadwall and 3 Canada Geese.  Trudging back along the canal, my spirits were raised by a Kingfisher perched on a low hanging willow near the footbridge at the end of Tooveys Mill Close along with 2 flyover Grey Wagtails, 1 Song Thrush and 4 Fieldfare, the finale to the impressive passage day.

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