Any horse racing fans tuning in might think that I had the tote treble up at High Gosforth Park a.k.a. Newcastle Racecourse and had won a few bob. Au contraire.
The treble I had was at the nature reserve and consisted of Water Rail, Kingfisher and Bittern, in that order. On a bright but blustery afternoon I was sitting in the main hide chatting with Paul the reserve warden when a Water Rail appeared in one of the channels cut into the reed beds. There may have been more than one but we observed the bird/ s on six occasions. Not five minutes later I said to Paul "Don't look now but the Kingfisher has just landed right outside the hide". It was on the closest of the perches less than 3 metres away but the sun was behind. It sat for a minute or so before shooting off up the right hand channel and settling on a single reed which buckled under the weight. It moved again after a short while to the opposite side and after another 30 seconds zipped off and out of sight.
I had decided to hang around until dark to see if there were any Starlings coming in to roost and had decided to make my way round to the Pyle hide. On arrival to my delight I found that a large area of reeds had been cut and a large area opened up. Normally I only call in here for ten minutes and a coffee, not expecting to see too much but all this extra openness might just change things, I thought to myself. While watching the Cormorant tree something lifted out the corner of my eye. A Grey Heron. It was lost from view almost immediately but reappeared further left, or so I thought, and by magic it had morphed into a Bittern. A brief view as it dropped straight into the reed bed again but that was the treble up. I didn't manage to capture the W. Rail or Bittern on camera due to light levels (one too high, the other too low) but did get a brightly backlit shot of the Kingfisher.
While in the Pyle hide and before the light went I did have 2 groups of Starlings which twisted and turned and lifted and dropped. One group had 21 birds the other 7. They were 5 minutes apart but did drop into the same area of reed bed. The question is.............how many Starlings constitutes a murmuration ? Did I have 2 ??
As I left the reserve in darkness the sound of the gathering Corvids on the periphery of the reserve was LOUD. There were hundreds, possibly thousands. A few more than my Starlings, anyway.
Hundreds of Woodpigeons passed by overhead also.