Wednesday, 13 August 2014

WWT Barnes - 16th July, 14

Weather: Very Warm and sunny with blue skies. Some cloud later on.

Birds Total: 69
Plus: Asian Short-clawed Otters; Cat.
Plus: 6-spot Burnet, Comma, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Small White butterflies.
Plus: Blue-tailed, Common Blue, Small Red-eyed damselflies; Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Darter, Emperor, Hairy, Ruddy Darter dragonflies.
Plus: 7-spot Ladybird; Poplar Leaf Beetle.

It was high time for a visit to the Wetland Centre down in Barnes, as I hadn't visited since early last year. My membership had lapsed so this time I had to pay to get in.

Have I Got Smews For You!
There was a slight delay on the trains but I got down there just before 10. It was already very hot. There didn't seem to be many people about at first, but it soon filled out.

I headed off around the Wildside route first, to take advantage of the sunshine for a few close-ups of the captive birds on display. To paraphrase Charlemagne - 'To possess a bird is to possess another soul'.

A Bewick's Swan, braving the hot sun
Unfortunately, I should have done a bit of homework first. At this time of year not too many birds are about and with the addition of the hot sun, most of the other birds, including the captive ones, were all sheltering within the undergrowth, making it very difficult to spot. Those that were out and about weren't very cooperative and didn't fancy posing.

There was also a bit of work going on from the staff, using very noisy machinery. I was a little surprised that they were doing this work now, even though it was towards the end of the breeding season.

And, lastly, a couple of parties of noisy school children were around and about.

But I soldiered on, walking around the area, taking snaps when I was presented with a pose. Due to the lack of birds I again concentrated on insects. My first spot was a Common Blue butterfly. Then a Small Red-eyed damselfly presented itself, a first for me this year. A female Emperor was busy ovipositing. A lone 6-spot Burnet then fluttered lazily past.

Grey Heron could be seen fishing in one of the lagoons. A Green Woodpecker flew noisily overhead. Dragons and Damsels were all evident. Lots of Blues about, as per normal. But then I spotted a Darter. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a Ruddy Darter, another first for me this year. Whilst I was photographing it a cat walked idly past me. Not the most endearing thing to see on a bird reserve.

With not too much else about it was a quick walk around and so I headed for the other half of the Reserve, the Hideside, as I call it.

I checked out all the Hides, with not too much action outside any of them. A few staff were busy cutting reeds nearby. In one of the Hides I broke for lunch.

On the way to the Peacock Hide, the biggest one here, I came across lots of 6-spot Burnets. And next to them I found my first Poplar Leaf Beetle, a blood-red insect.

I spent about 30 minutes in the Hide, spotting a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and a few Lapwing. A pair of Sand Martins and a few Swift were flying around the area, trying to dodge a Sparrowhawk flying around.

On the way back I spotted a lovely Emperor dragonfly which was circling a pond. It flew around a few times and then sat on a nearby reed and posed. Then, looking at the feeders, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in, scattering everything else.

I stopped off to have a quick look at the Otters. There were only a pair showing this time, but very cute and photogenic nonetheless.

Having walked around the whole Reserve I got a sudden attack of torpor so, struggling against the heat and although it wasn't even 3 o'clock, I decided to call it a day and head home.

I probably won't visit again until next year, but I must remember to do the research beforehand!

A selection of photos of the day:

Bufflehead

Ferruginous Duck

Marbled Duck

Red-breasted Goose

Tufted Duck

White-headed Duck
For more of my photos please visit my Flickr site.