Sunday, 29 March 2009

Old Red Eyes is back

There's a Black-necked Grebe, in full, glorious summer plumage, like the one pictured, at Swithland Reservoir at the moment. It's relatively easy to see, but quite hard to get close to, because from the best viewing point, the railings on Kinchley Lane, there's far too much willow scrub in the way to get a decent view. A bit further down, towards the dam, though, it's possible to get long, unobstructed views of it at a reasonable distance, bobbbing around on the choppy waters with a few of the Goldeneyes that are still hanging around.

There was a Black-necked in the same part of the reservoir early last autumn, so I wonder whether this is the same bird, stopping off again on its journey up to its breeding grounds. Whatever, it's a great bird to see on patch, with that bright red eye (in some parts of the country, it used to be known as Old Fiery Eye) standing out even at extreme range. In fact, although I've seen quite a few winter-plumaged birds relatively locally, this is the best summer-plumaged example I can recall.

UPDATE: I think the grebe is still around at Swithland, but the longer evenings mean I can now do a bit of birding on the way home. Last night I stopped at Cossington Meadows - there were two Little Ringed Plovers on Plover Meadow, a couple of Redshanks there, plus four Lapwings, and a fine male Wheatear on the scrubby area at the top end of the main track. Oh, and a male Blackcap in the hedge opposite the entrance. Migration is well and truly on, I reckon.

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