There was only one day forecast to be sunny last week so I decided to make the most of it and visit College Lake in Buckinghamshire (bad choice, as will become clear later). I arrived at about 9.30am and the first sound I heard was a Chaffinch singing from amongst the trees that surround the car park. I made my way through the new visitor centre to the first hide which overlooks most of the site but in particular the marsh area. Here I spotted Canada Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Ducks, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Coot , Moorhen, Water Rail, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon and a single Oystercatcher. The next hide is situated low down at just above eye level to the marsh area, it’s just occurred to me that these hides must have names, I’ll check next time!
I sat here for about an Hour or so watching the activity on the marsh by this time my “bad choice” had started to make itself apparent, I’d forgotten that it was half term school holidays and now groups of adult and children had started to arrive. Now I’m all for teaching children about our wildlife and countryside, in fact I think it’s a must, but should it not be pointed out to the adults in charge of these children that these types of sites are not free for all playgrounds and that they must respect the facilities and areas that have taken, mostly volunteers, lots of time and effort to create. Sorry about the rant but there were children, some old enough to know better, climbing all over the seats with their muddy shoes on, opening and closing the hide windows, running around and stamping to make a noise on the wooden floor of the hide and for the most part with no checking or reprimand from the adults in charge. If they want their kids to run wild why don’t they take them to a theme park (I guess they would have to pay to get in there though!). I left the hide after one child asked the woman with her “what’s that bird over there” pointing to a Grey Heron only to be answered with “that’s a Flamingo”. I was going to say something but decided that I might just get some verbal abuse for my effort. SORRY, rant over now.
Before leaving the site entirely I took a walk around the small woodland and garden display area, here I saw my first Chiffchaff of the year calling from a perch high in one of the trees. I also saw Snowdrops and Winter Aconites.
Honey Bees from the few hives in this area were busy on the various shrubs that were just starting to bloom.
How many times do you pass a certain place and say to yourself “I’ll stop and have a look at that one day” and never do? Well, I’ve got such a place on my route home from College Lake it’s called Pitstone Mill. This time I didn’t have a choice, I had to stop! Just before reaching Pitstone Mill there is a 90 degree bend in the road and as I drove around this bend there in front of me were two Red Kites slowly circling above the road just over tree height. So on a snap decision I turned abruptly into the next available entrance, which just happened to be the small parking area for the Mill. (Now, if it was you driving the car behind me I must apologise for the sudden braking and sharp turn and assure you that I don’t normally drive like this). Having successfully stopped the car and fumbled about for the camera I relocated the Kites, as they were slowly moving away, and managed to take a few photographs alas in my haste only this one is of any use.
As I had at last stopped at the mill I thought I’d best have a look.
On my way through the fields down to the Mill I could see and hear three Skylarks singing as they slowly climbed into the sky before rapidly descending in a couple of steep dives. I stood watching and listening and letting my mind wander back to when I was a kid, growing up in the Cambridgeshire countryside, laying eyes closed, in the long grass on a warm summer evening listening to what seemed like wall to wall Skylarks doing “their thing”.
So the day didn’t turn out to be too bad after all, three year ticks and some reminiscing thrown in for good measure.
Sunday 27/2/11 The Surprise!
Although it was a nice sunny Sunday morning I knew that the weather forecast was for a wet afternoon so I decided against going out and instead opted to give the camera gear a clean and check over and generally chill out and watch the birds visiting the feeders in the garden. To my surprise just as I looked up through the window down with the House Sparrows came a female Siskin, it was just by pure chance that I had the camera in my hands and was able to fire of a burst of four shots before it was gone.
Then to my even greater surprise, about 30mins. later a Blackcap made two quick darts from the Buddleia bush to the bird table, this time though I didn’t have the camera to hand and I don’t think I would have been quick enough anyway!
So all in all, not a bad week, with 5 new year ticks added to the list. Let’s hope this coming week will be as good.