I have now been in England for a week. First impressions? More birds than Canada in winter. Small birds everywhere, many Wood Pigeons, and a few Eurasian Collared Doves. On the lake, Black-headed Gulls galore, with lots of Tufted Ducks and Eurasian Coot around. Little Egrets burst out from the banks on occasion, and Blackbirds dart around the paths. Gold-, Bull-, Green- and Chaff-finches litter the skies while Blue Tits rule the bushes.
And they sing. They sing and they sing and they sing. Being a stranger to the songs of English birds is definitely the biggest difficulty you can have here. The Robin’s song has caught me out more than once. A surprising lack of raptors is present, for I have seen but a Red Kite, two Eurasian Kestrels and one Buzzard in a lot of birding time.
Today I went out to a nearby lake, Stewartby Lake. It is the best birding spot in Bedfordshire, with a species list including Caspian Gull, Little Egrets, Yellow-footed Gull and others. We didn’t leave until about 9:45 local time, but we still got a reasonable checklist.
Starting off with a Blue Tit, we walked around the lake with my uncle, my mother, my sister and a dog. Eurasian Coot, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebes were he first thing we found on the lake itself, continuing with a million and two Black-headed Gulls. A Kingfisher roared past, and as we followed its path, we hit upon the first rarity of the day – a Little Egret!
After a while, the Uncle, Mother, Sister and the dog left to go back home, but we stayed on for the full loop of the water. Further on, we came across some strange ducks. Mallard sized, they were mostly black, but with a white throat and upper breast patch. Not a bird either of us had seen before. It took us until we found these birds to figure them out: Mallard hybrids!
Continuing, we walked past the sailing club, and found a small dockyard full of birds. by now, the light was too bad for any good photos. My Uncle has lent me his telescope to use as a spotting scope, and it was with this that I saw something behind the Moorhen on the dock – a Dabchick, or Little Grebe!
In a few days, I shall leave for Cley Marshes, in North Norfolk, where I expect to see a good number of species. So though I shall post then, I suspect that I won’t post again until then.