"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Comical Heron

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon walking around Brandon Marsh NR in the warm sunshine.

I managed to see 31 species of bird including 6 new ticks for the year - sand martins (appear to be nesting in the artificial sandbanks), oystercatchers, reed warblers, redshanks, little ringed plovers and I finally caught up with chiffchaff. There were several mallard families around the pools of the reserve with the young ranging in age from recently hatched to almost fully grown. Cuckoo was heard several times although there was no sign of the osprey reported on the reserve earlier in the day. When I sat on a bench to enjoy the peaceful surroundings I spotted a kingfisher flying over the woodland presumably making its way from one pool to another.

Considering how hot and sunny it was there weren't that many butterflies to be seen but I did spot one speckled wood, one brimstone and one small white (a new species for the year). When I first arrived at the reserve I walked first to an area known as "the tip" which is an area good for butterfly sightings. I was rewarded with my first common blues of the year there were about 5 or 6 males flying around the trefoil/vetch plants that cover this area of the reserve. Birdsfoot trefoil is a food plant of the common blue larvae.

The photos I took are not very sharp - I decided to take just the 70-300mm lens rather than having to lug a camera bag round with my other lens in. I really should make myself take a tripod as without image stabilisation its hard to get sharp photos when the camera is handheld.

A few photos of the Common Blue Butterfly - the third photo shows some of the "tip" area.

There were quite a few banded demoiselles around as I walked across West Marsh

Considering the sunshine and it being half term and a holiday week, the reserve was much quieter than it has been of late. I even had Carlton Hide all to myself! No sign of any cuckoos or hobbies though that can often be seen in one of the two dead trees visible from that hide.

Mute Swan on East Marsh Pool seen from the John Baldwin Hide

I saw 3 common tern and it looks as though this species is nesting on the raft provided.

The marshes were full of flowering yellow flag and there were also a lot bramble and dog rose flowers (as in this photo).

As I walked past Grebe Pool I spotted a grey heron on one of the small islands preening.

Events then took a rather amusing turn as he adopted what looks like a "sun-bathing pose" with his head and neck and wings all outstretched.

Things became even more comical when he adopted another pose looking as though he was wearing a huge pair of pantaloons or granny's bloomers!!

I don't remember ever seeing a heron exhibit this type of behaviour before perhaps he was drying his wings like cormorants do or hoping the sunlight would drive out parasites?

Finally, I came across a small pool with numerous damselflies mating and laying eggs. I thought at the time they were Common Damselflies but having cropped the photos and compared them with various dragonfly/damselfly field guides and id cards, I am beginning to think they may be Azure Damseflies. I have just remembered why I more or less gave up on dragonfly id a few years back - they are even harder than moths to id! And as they rarely seem to sit still comparing segments and markings is not easy!


Anonymous said...

Correct id with the Damsels, Caroline.
Great posture from that Heron, especially the last shot.

Ragged Robin said...

Dean - thanks as always for id help - can you please just confirm that you agree they are Azure as my text isn't very well worded!

The heron was incredible - I was actually laughing out loud and getting some very strange looks from a couple passing by :D.

Stewart said...

Hi Caroline, the heron is sunbathing. Watch in sheltered spots for birds doing this. Blackbirds are great, they contort into shapes that you couldn't bend wire into! At our small heronry we often see them standing either like this or with their backs to the sun and with crests fully raised with heads bowed. Great stuff!

Pete said...

love that heron!!!

Ragged Robin said...

Hi Stewart - Thanks ever so much for that information - I will be watching herons more closely in future to try and catch them in the second pose you mention. I've seen blackbirds sunbathing in the garden but must admit I didn't realise larger birds did it too.

Thanks Pete :D

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Caroline. Azures, yes.

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks Dean for confirming they were Azures - I thought that was what you meant but just wanted to make sure!
Hope the tablets are taking effect and you are in less pain with your ear.