Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Leap Day at East Park

I feel one has to do something unusual in a Leap Day. As the weather was promising, I took the bus to East Park. It involves a couple of buses, but I was there in an hour. I had just taken my camera and binoculars out of my bag when I heard an unusual song. First I thought it was a Blue Tit, but it was a Treecreeper, low on the first Horse Chestnut on the main avenue. It crept up the main trunk, feeding by checking all the cracks in the bark and briefly stopping to sing.
Treecreeper singing

Just after, a Jay crossed the lawn and sat on a distant tree by the road. It then did something strange, like it was chasing something flying at full speed inside the tree, but I couldn't see what it was. Then, it disappeared into some trees at the edge of the park. What a good start for the day. I hadn't seen the Jay for a while, assuming it is the same individual I saw in November 2014.
A distant Jay
 I hobbled along the chestnut avenue and heard a Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush, soon joined by a Stock dove.
 At the lake, a group of Tufted ducks, males and females appeared to be courting, making a funny bubbling call. By the large central island, a single female Goosander and five Pochard drakes sleeping.
I decided to stop at the cafe and on my way there I heard some hammering noises on the trees. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker was chiselling into a hole on the main trunk of an Ash tree already covered in woodpecker holes. There were many Siskins about on the trees around.
 After the coffee break, I headed to the eastern part of the lake. This crow, with his head and chest feathers all fluffed up looked quite magnificent.
 This is the same crow, now with feathers smoothed.
 It was nice to see a young swan feeding on the lake. I wonder if it will attract a partner and they'll settle to breed. The lone, aggressive male has been absent now for a while.
The mute swan using its up-ending feeding technique:
 Nearby a pair of Great Crested Grebes feeding amongst the tree roots in a small island that looks like a mangrove swamp.
The long walk alongside the north shore didn't add much new. I had a picnic on a bench, surrounded by Black-headed gulls that thought I might have something for them. All along my walk, I had been finding groups of Siskins feeding in the birches, alders and other trees, they are very noticeable as they are often chattering and singing. Later, on a small group of birches and alder I found a large flock, and on the ground, some of them fed on fallen seeds. I couldn't get all in the photo. It has been a very good winter for Siskins, an irruption year for them.
I got a total of 41 species, my largest tally for the park.
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