A full day to myself today saw me heading out locally starting bright and early at Forest Pines,then MSQ and finishing at Laughton Forest,this is how my day unfolded.I started the day by looking for the male Two-barred Crossbill and after walking around to his chosen area and seeing the flock fly over a few times,i eventually saw him briefly sat in the top of a Spruce along with 20 of his Common Crossbill relatives before the flock flew again.I waited for about another 30 minutes but they didn't appear again.I made my way back to the car seeing 3 Nuthatch and hearing a single Brambling,my first of the year in this poor winter for the species.I then drove the short distance over to MSQ,firstly checking the sheep fields which revealed plenty of activity from the local birds and included displaying Lapwings,Redshank,Black-headed Gulls and the local Greylag flock.The best sighting here went to 2 Egyptian Geese watched loafing on the fields,loosely associating with the 'Lag' flock.After parking up at the car park and having a quick bite to eat and a quick drink,i made my way down to Grebe lake,which was as productive as always.The first bird i saw here was what i thought at first was a male Tufted Duck along with a female Pochard,which i thought was slightly unusual,but on closer inspection this bird had a grey mantle and looked like a Aythya hybrid.The more i studied the bird the more i was convinced it was a Tufted x Pochard hybrid,it showed a white flank patch like a Tuftie,grey mantle like a Pochard and bill pattern similar to Pochard and also showed a rounded head and no crest,a very interesting bird.A very welcome diversion away from the duck was a cracking Otter watched porpoising as it fed on several fish it was catching before disappearing into vegetation at the bottom end of the lake,a great privilage to see and always a highlight of a day out for me.The only other notable sighting here was a couple of Kingfisher chasing around the lake,my first sighting for a while.After meeting up with Dave we began to explore the remainder of the reserve seeing the first of 4 Chiffchaff near to the dipping platform,my first spring migrant of the year and a welcome sign of spring.Shortly after seeing the Chiffie we found more new sightings for the year in the form of several Common Frogs and Toads which gave us plenty of chances to get some images of these cracking amphibians and nearby a male Nursery-web Spider showed really well.We continued around the reserve until we reached the wader hide and here was where the most activity was observed.Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls were beginning to gather on the islands in readiness for the breeding season and others in the mood for spring and nesting included Oystercatchers,Redshank,Lapwing,Shelduck and a couple of displaying Lesser black-backed Gulls.Non bird sightings here included my first Scarlet elf Cups,Marsh Marigolds and Coltsfoot of the year,adding a welcome splash of colour to the reserve.After chatting about the possibility of the Adders being active at nearby Laughton and the fact that Dave had never seen one,this was our final destination for the day.After arriving at the site and walking both banks alongside their emergence site,i couldn't find a single animal,but then bingo,i managed to spot one at last.This single male showed well,even in the overcast conditions,but who cares,they are always a great privilege to see.As we both made our seperate journeys home,another great day was enjoyed out and about locally.
|Male Aythya Hybrid,MSQ.|
|Male Common Toad,MSQ.|
|Male Common Toad,MSQ.|
|Adult Lesser black-backed Gull,MSQ.|
|Scarlet elf Cup,MSQ.|