Venus Pool - 9 Oct 17

Today I paid a visit to the Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS) site at Venus Pool. Here is a general view over the pools and islands from one of the freely accessible public hides. All the photos were taken from one of the two hides that overlook these pools. There is another hide at a woodland feeding station.

A flight of Greylag Geese landing.

A pair of Common / Eurasian Teal. Difficult to get them both in focus but the drake is very sharp and shows well the progress of the breeding plumage with the vermiculations along the flanks. The head has a hint of the rufous crown. None of the yellow-outlined green area on the face is apparent yet.

A different drake Teal. This has a very rufous crown and side to the neck and a hint of green behind the eye. None of flank feathers have been renewed as yet.

A trio of resting drake Teal here more or less in breeding plumage with the yellow outlining green area on the face beginning to show. (the odd-looking bill is because part of the bill of a bird behind is showing.

A trio of species here with a party of Eurasian Wigeon – all drakes; a small flock of Lapwing; and a sole Common Snipe. This shows just how small snipes are.

The main interest in the visit was three Little Egrets that were having a fine time – when not squabbling – catching fish. So successful were they that I wonder there are any fish left as these birds have been present for some weeks.

This bird looking alert / surprised ....?

‘Let me after those fish’. Note the yellow feet. There is always the possibility of the New World congener, the Snowy Egret. That has colour bare skin in front of the eye in breeding plumage but at all times the yellow on the feet extends up the back of the legs to at least what we think of as the knee (it isn’t: its properly the patella). Now are the fish this way ...

.. or that way.

fish #1.

fish #2: note that the feet do not look yellow here because of the mud sticking to it.

 fish #3.

fish #4 going down the hatch ....

 ... being swallowed.

fish #5

fish #6 ....

... ops dropped that one ...

... they don’t call me ‘speedy’ for nothing.

fish #7 going down.

fish #8.

Compare and contrast time: Little Egret with 1st winter Black-headed Gull for size comparison. The gull was rather closer so not quite so little disparity as this shows.

Little Egrets were not the only birds on the hunt for fish, though this Kingfisher is unlikely to find any up there.

Rather too distant this is a Reed Bunting. All ages and all sexes show a distinct malar stripe, more pronounced in males except when breeding males acquire black on the whole head and throat when they have a white malar stripe. Separating female and 1st winter birds requires a better view than this, with rump tone important.

(Ed Wilson)