Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Penelope’s Pit Stop

Almost overnight it seems that the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has come upon us, bringing with it a change of colours, a change of faces and a rekindling of old friendships.

The main lake which was the wildfowl equivalent of the Atacama Desert a month ago, now often boasts over a hundred Wigeon, whistling like a range of perky little copper coloured kettles, each coming to the boil at a different time. As each day goes by new arrivals of other familiar HESC species turn up. So far this month, odd numbers of Pochard, Gadwall, Shoveller and Tufted Ducks have been seen mingling in with the Wigeon and the resident Mallards.
Male Wigeon (Anas Penelope) and Friend

Large numbers of Mute Swan have also been present in the last couple of weeks including a group of about 70 gathered at one stage between the Bund and the Far Hide. Although we failed to record a single successful Great Crested Grebes nest this year, young GCGs have arrived from somewhere, they can be distinguished by their telltale humbug striped heads and can often be seen fishing in front of both the main lake hides.
Young Great Crested Grebe

The Woodland Hide, which is probably my favourite, has also started to recover from the virtually bird free state of the summer months, as last Spring’s diners return to their favourite restaurant.
Marsh Tit - a Woodland Hide Favourite
Along with the ever present Blue and Great Tits our pair of Marsh Tits can be seen making regular sorties to the feeders and tables. Robin and Chaffinch take their opportunities to grab some grub from the tables, before the Tits and pesky Grey Squirrels have snaffled it all and chattering Long-tailed Tits flutter in and out of the area in the company of the their blue cousins. A few Siskin have been spotted near the hide and those watchers that have been sitting quietly back from the viewing windows, have enjoyed close views of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays in the last week.
Great Spotted Woodpecker outside Woodland Hide

As the lush growth starts to die back, the Bank Voles can again be seen snatching a few seeds spilt from the tables near the woodpile. But, BV take care, I spotted a Weasel not far from your home a week or so ago and confident young Foxes have been strolling around the meadows.
Young Fox in the Near Meadow

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”*  - and of the HESC naturalist too maybe.

PS Don't forget this Sunday (Oct 21st) is an Open Sunday, so please come along, new faces are welcome.

*From the opening lines of Autumn by John Keats.

Photographs by and © Tony Bedford


  1. I wonder if Rufus Ruffcut, Sawtooth and the Buzzwagon will put in an appearance at the next work party meeting?

  2. Well we have Betty & Barney (alias Tommy & Charlie) so who could these other characters be? Surely you don't mean! Oh! Gosh! but I better not say.