Taking advantage of the few Spring rays of sun permeating the thick layer of Winter cloud I decided to go out birding.
I’ve always had a love for birds because of how visible and vocal they are. You can almost be guaranteed to see birds no matter where you are in the UK: cities, countryside, motorways, cliffs, coasts, parks, fields…everywhere.
I have never been too concerned with being able to identify species, but that has changed recently as I’ve started to take note of what birds I could spot on my commute and days at work (I’m lucky to work in a very green area).
My new interest in birdwatching was definitely bolstered when I took part in The Big Garden Birdwatch this year and saw a dunnock in my garden for the first time. If I hadn’t sat down for an hour to survey my garden, along with the rest of the nation, I may never have seen that small, speckled, brown bird at the feeder.
So to treat myself I headed to St Albans, Verulamium Park, where I knew there was a large heronry and plenty of waterfowl to take photos of. Saying that, the first species I spotted was a goldcrest, two in fact, who lived in a tree that had collapsed over a river.
I know it’s not the best photo so here’s it is zoomed in – just to prove that that yellow stripe is indeed a goldcrest and not a strikingly yellow leaf.
When I made it round to the heronry I wasn’t disappointed. I kept spotting more and more herons wherever I looked; for such a large bird they are remarkably great at hiding.
The pond surrounding herons island was full of mallards, coots, moorhens and tufted ducks to name a few. Each species was preparing for Spring in their own way:
I saw grey geese defending nests…
Male mallards getting ready to impress…
Swans prepping and preening…
and coots that were wasting no time getting to know each other.
Later in the afternoon I stumbled across a small patch of secluded woodland that was full of small songbirds. But the individuals that really stood out for me were a shy greater spotted woodpecker and a nuthatch.
See it peeking out from behind the branch?
The nuthatch was tending to its hollowed-out home inside the tree trunk and kept popping its body in and out at regular intervals.
After a few hours of birdwatching I decided to pack my bag and make my way back home. Five minutes into my walk to the train station I happened to look up and spot a large silhouette soaring above me. A red kite! I dropped to the floor desperately scrambling for my camera and managed this rushed shot.
Although similar in standard to my photo of the goldcrest, it’s the first I’ve taken of this beautiful bird of prey (which happens to be one of my absolute favourite species).