I normally start at the estuary hides, where there were plenty of Avocet and Redhank, and smaller numbers of Lapwing, Teal, Gadwall, Pintail and Wigeon, and large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits. I swear that if there were only two left on the entire UK coast-line, they'd still find a reason to squabble over feeding places!
Onto the main reserve and I always pause at the unofficial feeding log on the way to Jackson hide to say hello to the woodland birds. A pair of Nutties posed happily in return for a few suet nibbles.
Then, I heard someone asking, "Ere, 'ave you seen that lady with the pockets full of food. We're trying to establish her migration patterns."
"No, there's only me ... and I've only got nibbles to give you."
"Oh well, I suppose they'll do." Yes, I can confirm after extensive research lasting at least the three minutes it took for the Water Rail to appear, they will come out and pose in the sunshine for suet nibbles, providing you've tempted the Mallards and Pheasants to a different spot!
If these so-called elusive birds keep showing at this rate, I'll be able to start my own photo library dedicated to them shortly :)
The new Sand Martin house is up in front of Jackson hide. Let's hope for a good take up. Just to the right, the white blobs in the background are a Little Egret and a Great White Egret ...
... fortunately the GWE came closer
Towards Grisedale hide was one of many Wrens, but this one was singing from the trees instead of skulking in the reeds.
Loads of Marsh Harrier activity, both males and females, but this is the best record shot I managed.
On the Causeway, this Mute Swan reminded me of those designs of upside down stairs that loop around on themselves by Escher, although perhaps that says more about the way my mind works!!
A few more nibbles brings a bit of colour on the woodland path to Lower hide
I actually heard two Bitterns booming on the way back, which when I reported it, caused a bit of excitement, as apparently it was the first time two had been heard for a few days.
Back at Lillian's hide, a Little Egret fished right in front of the hide to everyone's delight, although we'd lost the sun by then.
Some expert waggling of those big yellow feet and several tiddlers later and it was content to fluff itself up and settle down for a doze on the bank. What gloriously wispy feathers the adults have on their back!
I had enough time to call in at Warton crag on the way back. In a few minutes, I had spotted both Peregrines, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk! Sadly, all out of photo range. I did take a record shot of one of the pair of Ravens doing their acrobatic flights and showing off that distinctive fan tail as I rarely see them...
With so much raptor activity, the crows were having difficulty settling and there was practically a murmuration of them ... or would it be a murderation for crows :) Anyway, I estimated at least 200 of them in the air together which was quite a sight.
A good, varied day, I thought, and I hope you enjoy the photos.
Great pics Nigel, you had a productive visit!
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