Venus Pool - 2 Mar 17

A few images from Venus Pool today.

A visit to the excellent SOS Reserve at Venus Pool. As I have noted previously, in the afternoons the sun is behind you in the (free public) hides and it provides excellent viewing. Today it was rather dull for a while but later this dramatic lighting.

A pair(?) of Mute Swans dwarf a Black-headed Gull (Shoveler in the left background).

Territorial dispute amongst the Mute Swans (more Shoveler in the background).

A cygnet (1st year) bird in flight showing extensive retained grey plumage (“Gee: I am not (yet) a Swan!” – with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen).

The Canada Geese were also fighting: I assume this is two males being watched / egged-on my two female (or is that not a PC explanation these days?).

A great view of a duck Teal in its stunning breeding plumage.

You have to look closely to realise there are only 4 drake and 2 duck Teal here.

A flying drake Shoveler: still a hint of eclipse / immature plumage with a pale are between the bill and the bottle-green head (a full breeding-plumaged drake behind).

These two drake Shoveler seem to be talking (or sticking their tongues out).

Fine reflection here: this drake Shoveler looks rather aggressively surprised.

We’d better keep the sexual balance and show a duck Shoveler as well.

This drake Shoveler still aspiring to acquire breeding plumage.

It must be quite hard to preen with that strange-shaped bill: here we see part of the pale blue-grey forewing exposed – it is much more ‘blue’ in drakes.

A pair doing their usual thing – spinning around to stir up the mud from the bottom which they then filter with those bills.

And if the light is right the drakes head really glosses in the sun.

Many people think of Moorhens as black: in reality they are two different shades of dark grey-brown and the back can show a greenish tinge.

I find flying Lapwing very hard to capture: this is one of my better efforts.

The Snipe were rather obliging today. Later some were out in the open but this shot in the shade accentuates the normally hard-to-see rufous in the tail.

Excellent angle to capture some of the intricate plumage.

And again: it seems to me that the large dark feathers with pale edging and sub-edging should be covered by the feathers above them which are perhaps still regrowing after a moult. Certainly on this bird the pale ‘tram lines’ along the back do not look that well-defined.

On this bird these feathers are nowhere nearly so prominent.

It really is a long bill! Looks like this bird needs a handkerchief.

Look bill all gone! They can open the end of the bill while it is buried in soft ground to grab morsels.

Another view of that intricate plumage.

A gang. Note that in detail the plumage of these birds is somewhat different.

A pleasant surprise was at least a dozen Curlew commuting from the reserve to nearby grasslands to feed.

Here is one doing its commute.

And another.

With another landing back.

Must be Spring! A Blue Tit amongst the Blackthorn blossom.

Some birds are easiest to photograph on feeders: here a Long-tailed Tit shares the space with a (ringed) Great Tit.

A close-up and rather startling view of a male Blackbird. Usually difficult to see the individual feathers like this.

Fieldfare are surprisingly colourful when seen well and, as here, in breeding plumage (sorry about the barbed wire).

A handsome species.

This female Chaffinch is perched on one leg for some reason.

This female is on both feet on the same perch: not this same bird I think.

A male Chaffinch perches on both legs.

Makes my neck ache to look at it.

This male Chaffinch has the white legs and feet showing infection by chaffinch viral papilloma. This is not especially contagious and spread only through cuts to the feet. It seems not to affect other finch species and is more a nuisance and irritation than likely to make the bird unwell or to die prematurely.

One of my wanted birds from my visit was Brambling. These were rather shy and rarely came in to the open. Here we see a female on a brief foray to feed on spilt seeds (with a male Chaffinch and a Dunnock).

A female Greenfinch shares the feeding with two male Chaffinches, neither showing any sign of chaffinch viral papilloma.

A fine portrait of a male Yellowhammer under the feeders. This species is far from common at feeders so a welcome find.

Rabbits show the red on the nape. This feature is not often mentioned in the literature with the description usually a ‘grey-brown with a white underside to the tail’.

(Ed Wilson)