Our May outing, although a little later in the month than usual, saw a small group of members walking around Wintersett reservoir today. Wintersett is best known for its bird life and is a very well watched patch and it didn’t disappoint. Although things were quietish, we had great views of Cetti’s warbler, blackcap and, in particular, sedge warbler. Plenty of reed buntings along the edges of the oilseed rape fields and small numbers of common terns over the lake were a bonus. There was a big hatching of damselfly, notably common blue and large red, though there were many teneral insects which made identification difficult. High overhead were good numbers of swifts, screaming loudly as they hawked insects, but undoubtedly, the star of the show was a pair of nuthatches that have nested in an old woodpecker nest hole in a crack willow not far from the main car park. They gave brilliant views as they came in to feed the well grown nestlings every few minutes, Tony Renshaw has sent some wonderful images from the walk.
Francis sent in this amazing photo of one of the Wakefield peregrines during the recent lunar eclipse. This a remarkable and, I suspect, unique image!
I’m well out of the birding loop these days and I’ve only just got wind of a long staying great northern diver at Lady Lakes in Mirfield which has been there for about 5 months! Thinking there might be a photo opportunity, I nipped over there and sure enough I saw this amazing sub-adult great northern diver. I couldn’t understand why it was in Mirfield in June and not in Scandinavia along with the rest of its kind until I saw it feeding. On every dive it brought up a large crayfish, presumably signal crayfish, and heartily scoffed them down. Living on a rich crayfish diet like that must outweigh the long flight north :¬)
The bird regularly surfaced right in front of the anglers on the lake but would not come up in front of me and my camera! I managed a few grab shots before being thrown off the lakes by the owner – only fishermen are allowed on. So, if you go along, stay behind the otter fence and you are fine. Lots of black-tailed skimmers there too.
Got a call last night to say there was a great northern diver (common loon for the USA visitors) on Cawood’s Pool at Pugneys Country Park and it had still been there at dusk. So, I set off early this morning as the sun was rising and met up with this battle cruiser of a bird as drifted across the lake in the winter sunlight. Cawood’s is a big pool and the bird was a way off, but fortunately just as I arrived it dived beneath the water and I ran to where I thought it might pop up only to find it broke the surface about a yard in front of me!! I was over-geared for the bird at this range but in any case it panicked, dived again and came up about 100yds away to look back at me. I got off a few quick shots before it headed further out into the lake. I always find them hard to photograph because, despite it’s size, they sit low in the water and there is little contrast or definition for the camera to lock onto. Here’s a shot of the bird which will at least serve as record of its visit to Wakefield. On the way back to the car, I came across some carrion crows drinking in a puddle in the car park. I’d already reached my car and taken the 500mm off the tripod when I saw them, but the light was good so I whipped off the 1.4x and stalked them hand held. Here’s a couple of shots I really like and were an unexpected bonus to the short morning session.
John Gardner (President)