29 August 2007

Snipe at Leam Valley

For every few patch walks where there is nothing much to report, there is a night like tonight - with two (yup, count 'em) firsts for Leam Valley.

Walking down towards the scrape I had three birds in my mind. Perhaps a Common Sandpiper - after all, I have seen them here as autumn migrants before. Perhaps even a Green Sandpiper - that would be a first. Or even a Common Snipe - I know that they have been seen here before, but never by me.

As I opened the hide window, I was greeted by a familar site - two parts of nothing. A few Moorhen, six Coots, and a few Wood Pigeons flying about. But I settled down to scan the whole area, and five minutes later, content that there really was nothing about, I put my binoculars aside for a moment. And that was when I noticed the Snipe feeding directly in front of the hide!

The amazing thing was that there could have been hundreds around that edge, and you would never know. There are huge amounts of water edge which are invisible to prying eyes - this one bird just happened to choose that moment to walk across right in front of me. Hallelujah! So, after a few minutes of taking photos, and five minutes or more watching it feed in the muddy margins, I was a happy man.

Even more so when 85 Canada Geese chose first to fly over in two massive V formations, and then to descend on the water in the late evening sun, as truly spectacular sight.

And more so still when three Teal appeared momentarily from their hiding place on a reedy bank along from the hide - just a fleeting glimpse of these tiny, distinctive ducks, but enough to add a second 'first' to my evening.

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