Sunday 24 July 2011

RSPB Langford Lowfields, another trip

It was a fine start to the day - I didn't have a hangover, the sun was out and the presence of a Hollyoaks omnibus on the TV would be enough to drive anyone from the house screaming.

But I wasn't screaming, the events of the last few days have taught us that mainly, things are not so bad really, so I headed off on my rattletrap through Winthorpe and then on the back road Holme-wards towards the N64 off road route to RSPB Langford Lowfields to see what I might see today.

When I got to the screen over the reed beds, I see the local RSPB folk had put out a newsletter, which gave me something to read while I untangled the strap of my dinky 10x25 field glasses, and tried to take a picture of one of the Gatekeepers that seem to have taken over as the dominant butterfly of the moment out in the sticks. As ever, the butterflies didn't want to hold still.

But the Gatekeeper really is a very pretty little butterfly, like a little brown and orange paper cutout. In fact, if you gave a kid a bit of paper and some paint and told them to do one of those "paint on one side, then fold over" butterfly paintings, the Gatekeeper is what it would look like.

Out over the reedbed, as usual for me, the Hobbies and Marsh Harriers and interesting waders weren't there, but I had a great view of some herons doing their Max Wall struts amongst the shallows, and a big dragonfly hove into view but not slow or long enough to get a really good view.

The newsletter reckons Emperors are common here, all I can say is that it seemed to have a bright yellow head and thorax.

Scanning the reedbed with my glasses, under a bright sun, there wasn't much to be seen, maybe a bit late in the morning. But then, much nearer to hand and out of focus, a small bird was sat unselfconsciously on a bush.

Focussing the glasses revealed a pretty, and very un-shy little bird with a grey head, white throat chestnutty back and seemingly a very pale russet pink breast. It's tail was long, and edged with white, and when it stretched out its wing like a japanese fan for a spot of preening, it's wing was very white underneath.

Occasionally it sang it's little heart out, rapid trills, but my hearing is a bit crummy and I'm far better with Bowie than birdsong, so this is no help. But initially I mentally tagged it as a whitethroat - because it had an..err...white throat. But when it flew to another bush smack in front of me, I started to doubt myself, the breast looked very pink, the beak quite powerful for a warbler and the white striped long tail wasn't the stubby tail I associate with most warbler species.

But googling it later, I'm pretty sure a Whitethroat is what it is - the langfords people write that there are plenty of warblers about on the site after all and the images suggest I was right. A new spot for me. Yeah, I know compared to you proper twitchers I'm a heap of the proverbial. But I'm trying.

I had a real good look at the pretty little bird for a fair few minutes, before cycling back up, passing another couple of unidentifiable dragonflies - bronze and metallic looking in the sun; Brown Hawker? Four Spotted Chaser again? - but the curious sight was a couple of brown waterfowl scuttling away from my bike before diving into the hedge at the left. They moved like a coot or a moorhen, but I'd swear they were brown. Wonder if they were water rails, or whether my famous imagine was getting the better of me again??!!

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