So I arrived at the ARC Hanson hide at Dungie at about 10 o'clock in the morning because I never learn! And it was windy, very windy. The only surprise on this side of the reserve was two Swallows which flew past as I walked to the hide. From there I watched a Marsh Harrier terrorising the occupants of the reedbeds on the far side of the lake, and on the lake I saw Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gt Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and a male Goldeneye, all among the usual assortment of Gulls and Cormorants. The water level seemed higher to me than the last visit so no waders present that I could see.
Very few birds were able to make themselves heard above the strong winds on the main reserve, but as ever the Robins managed it giving full blast from the tops of the bushes like the one pictured above.
Surprisingly the Goldcrests, pictured below, managed to make their high pitched call heard from deep within the undergrowth. I saw six in all and heard quite a few more. Great to see but hard to photograph them as they search relentlessly for whatever tiny morsels they can find. I always think they must burn energy faster than they can replace it but they seem to manage, except in the very hardest conditions.
It was nice to see a hunting Kestrel and a single Stonechat along the path near Christmas hide. I managed to get this less than stunning shot of the Stonechat as it waved around in the wind. Is it me or does this bird have a seriously bad attitude?
Other birds seen in the vicinity included a Sparrowhawk which glided across the path putting up a Common Snipe from the watery meadow, half a dozen Meadow Pipits, a couple of Little Egrets, two Lapwings, and a couple of Marsh Harriers which unlike me seemed to relish the blustery conditions, sometimes hanging like Kestrels above the reeds, head on to the wind as they searched for a meal.
I was pleased to seek shelter in the Denge Marsh hide and was surprised to find it completely empty. So I took the prime position and while there was nothing much to see I amused myself trying to get a few pictures despite the greyness and lack of light. First to oblige was the Little Grebe below. I was really pleased to get a couple of shots of this super little bird, something i've not managed to do before. They are so incredibly shy I can never get near enough.
Next up was this female Ruddy Duck, one of two which showed up and stayed long enough for me to capture a few poses. They are of course superb divers so I wound up the elastic band in the camera to full speed and spent a bit of time trying to capture the action. They are very quick and you get no real warning when they are about to dive but dozens of shots later I managed to get it nearly right hopefully.
The only other notable bird seen from the hide was a distant Kingfisher so I decided it was time to call it a day and head back to the visitor centre. On the way I added Chaffinch, Gt. Spotted Woodpecker and another Kestrel, or more likely the same one I saw earlier. Anyway this one had a tasty morsel in it's sights and hovered just long enough for a couple of quick shots before diving to the ground, unfortunately lifting back up empty handed a few seconds later.