Wednesday, 4 July 2007

When darkness falls...

I decided to see what the reserve was like at dusk. I wanted to see how quiet it would be and what creatures would be seen. I arrived at the reserve at about 9:15pm last night and the first interesting thing was the buzzard. It had been resting right next to the road to the car park and swooped off as i arrived. It's not very often that you get a chance to see a buzzard flying six feet in front of you while you're driving!
I hoped this was a good sign of interesting things to come, and it was. The bird noise was significantly reduced on the reserve, which actually made it easier to track down the individual birds making the noise. On the path to the loch, i saw a family of whitethroat. Four birds in total, including at least one which still had some downy feathers. This was great for me, as normally i only ever see one or two individuals of a visit. To see four at once was pretty special for me!
The swallows were all over the place, obviously getting their last feed in before heading to roost. They were ducking and diving everywhere, and more than once i thought one was going to hit me! The skill of these birds is pretty amazing when seen like that.
The loch itself was pretty quiet. the swans were on their little homemade platform, obviously settling down for the night. There was a heron at the edge of the reeds, getting it's last feed in and several coots could be seen. I stayed at the loch itself till just after the sun had gone down, to see if there was a significant difference on the return journey. And there most certainly was!
Hardly a bird could be heard on the return journey. There were a few gulls flying overhead and a thrush or two singing from the willow, but that's about it. The swallows had gone from overhead. Just before we reached the house next to the reserve, I scared off a female roe deer. I must have been no more than four foot away from it when it bolted! And interestingly enough, i'm sure it was in the same area where the whitethroats were on the outward journey. Kinda makes me assume that it wasn't there the first time round.
Just after that the bats started appearing. They were flying all over round the trees, hunting for moths. At the same time, a Tawny owl could be heard hooting from the woods opposite the reserve. What a lovely sound! (added to the bird list) There were at least two different species of bat present (based purely on size - i don't have the luxury of a bat monitor, although it might be an idea for the future). They were flying just over my head all the way back to the car, where another deer was seen.
All in all, it's a very different experience at dusk, but it is just as fascinating, if not more than during the day!

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