At first, we planned to check-out the peregrines at Derby Cathedral. From the blog, we found out that 4 eggs had been laid. We changed our minds quickly when we found out that the Sky Blues were also travelling up there for a football match. We don’t want to get caught in traffic especially when we went round and round in circles on the ring-road when we were there before. We decided to drive down the opposite direction, to the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre. This was our third visit here.
It was a lovely drive down the M5. We’d the roof down and sang our hearts to the Millennium CD. When we arrived, we weren’t surprised to see the main car-park full and we’d to park at the overflow car-park. We’d lunch and a drink first before joining the crowd. As we walked up the gangway leading up to the main reception area, we spotted pigeons nesting along the edges of the building. I also purchased a bag of seeds because I wanted to entice some of the residents to get closer to me.
I wanted to visit the walk-away which led towards the River Severn. But, I was a month too early. It was still closed :-). Not a happy bunny at all. Thankfully, there were plenty of other things to keep me busy. We checked out the Caribbean Flamingos and they were rather grumpy today. We spotted a pair having a fight, honking noisily and entwining their necks against each other.
As we continued walking, we spotted a pair of Hooded Merganser. Check out the quiff. I wished I can have one just like that. Most of the residents here were all pairing up because it was the season to multiply. There was also a lot of fights as males compete for the attention of the females. We tried to get away from the main crowd as it was much quieter and the birds much calmer too. A pair of Smew came into view and I threw some seeds into the waters to woo them to swim closer. They were such a pretty pair.
In another pond, a Golden Eye was engage in an elaborate display throwing his head back and splashing the water with his feet. A very spectacular piece of yoga just to get the female interested. We also heard some c----y conversations regarding the name of the birds. All the enclosures have the names listed on it together with their photographs. But it doesn’t mean that what you see were the birds listed because birds fly/migrate etc, etc. At first, they asked Babe what the birds were and of course we obliged. When we corrected their mistakes, they just don’t want to know. It was amazing how some people think… We made our minds not to be helpful and concentrate on these gorgeous creatures. If I have a pond, I want to have all these colourful ducks in this posting swimming in them. It would be simply amazing. Mother Nature must surely have a wicked sense of humour. This lovely pair of Wood Duck came over begging for food. Somehow they spotted my bag of seeds. Off course, I couldn’t say no. They know me so well. I just loved the distinctive multicoloured iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck of the male. Then I heard the familiar but different whistling of “whee-hoo”. It was the Chiloe Widgeons with its stunning metallic green head. I wanted to walk on the stepping stones towards the Andean Flamingos but they were full of kids also trying to cross the stream. I wouldn’t want to be the only adult there We spotted some very strange looking ducks that we’d never seen before. I kept on reading the boards to find out what they were and nearly gave up. As we walked towards the Greater Flamingos enclosure, I spotted them with the adults. They were White-faced Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna viduata) juveniles. They really looked odd. I loved it when they started their very vocal, very high, reedy whistle, "tsree-tsree-tsreeo,". We were also looking forward to see these beauties, Mandarin Ducks. The males looked a bit tatty and exhausted. They must have been very, very busy with the females. As we continued on, we came across the piece de resistance, Nene goose (or Hawaiian Goose) with grown-up chicks. The very fluffy and grey chicks were all huddled together, with their parents on either side, hissing anything that came close. I managed to stop them hissing at me by throwing some seeds for them. I’m really glad I bought the seeds. As I was busy checking out the Canvasback, Barnacle geese, Red Breasted Geese, Black Australian swan, Cape Barren Goose, Black-Spur Winged Goose, etc etc, I nearly startled this Demoiselle Crane. This very petite and graceful beauty was checking me out and off course I took the opportunity to take her photograph. The otter was out and about taking advantage of the lovely afternoon. She was busy mooching about among the rocks and later another otter joined her. We just sat there watching them mucking around in the enclosure.
After about 3 hours, it was getting very warm and very crowded. At first we planned to get back to the car for a drink and a meal. Then we will come back again to check out the hides. We changed our minds as it was getting too warm and I was a bit tired. Furthermore, we still had a long drive home. So we decided to call it a day. We’d a lovely day out and it was time to go home.
We arrived home safely and had a very simple dinner. Babe as usual, uploaded, edited and posted the 1k photographs that we took. I spent the evening watering the plants and just chilling out. I heard on the radio that Sky Blues were 2:2 with Derby. The team were made to settle for a point after surrendering a two goal advantage in the space of five minutes at Pride Park. They still had a very loong way to go.
The next morning, I went for an easy walk around the block. It was still very quiet as most people were still in bed. I met the usual joggers, cyclists and fellow walkers with their dogs. My walk was accompanied with a symphony of bird songs. It was hard to believe that this was an urban area. The hedges were full of chirping tree and house sparrows, robins, dunnocks, Great and Blue tits. Blackbirds and starlings were also singing their hearts out from tree and roof tops. It was a wonderful start to the day.
I had my usual breakfast of cheesy mushroom omelette with toast, reading the Sunday papers and listening to Sunday love songs. I left the front door open so that I can observe my feathered friends having their breakfast too. The usual culprits took turns to feed and I was soo delighted to see this pretty Collared Dove back again. This was the first time I'd seen her after the long winter. I’m glad she remembered to pay us a visit. Then we went to our favourite playground to check what the natives have been up to. As usual, the parking lot was full. Not a good sign. We walked by the back road when we heard the first sound of spring, a cuckoo call echoing from the Newlands. Another favourite migrant was back. I’d been visiting this reserve for nearly 6 years now but had never seen it. Perhaps one day…
When I can hear the small woodpecker ring
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long --
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song."
~William Henry Davies, April's Charms~
As we walked towards the East Marsh Hide, I managed to get this lovely photograph of a pair of Orange Tip mating on the flowering plant. We noticed quite a few butterflies were about but they just don’t seemed to settle down. This was because not many plants were flowering yet.As usual, the hide was packed with Spotted Crake chasers. By this time, I’d given up seeing this elusive bird especially as the reeds have grown profusely. From the hide we saw plenty of Canadian Geese, Greylags, Lapwings, Little ringed plovers, Common Snipe, Shovelers, Mallards, Teals, Tufted ducks, Moorhens, Coots, Mute swans, Grey heron, Cormorants and an Oyster catcher. A Cetti Warbler as usual winding us up with his call.
We met Kay on the way out as she was coming in to look for Andy. We’d a little natter on the path before going our separate ways. I then spotted this very cheeky Pied Wagtail who was playing hide-and-seek with me on the visitor centre’s roof. It kept on flying off and returning back again. I’d a wonderful weekend. My batteries were recharged and I’m looking forward for the working week to start. I hoped that everyone too had managed to recharge their batteries.