On Wednesday I'd arranged permission to visit one of the jewels in Lincolnshire wildlife's crown, giving a month's notice to look round, so hopes were high, especially as we were there on the brightest day for some time. We went to the Main hide to find a group of massive lenses sprinkled liberally around the hide, just leaving the top right hand corner completely free. We were OK going up this side of the hide, but there wasn't room for everyone, so 4 participants needed to go to the other side. They were immediately hit by opposition. First a bloke said there wasn't room even though there plainly was, then when one person slipped into a gap, which someone tried to block with a box, the hide 'owner' complained that his wife would no longer be able to see anything through his scope - why didn't they sit next to each other then? He told the 4 that they would see more elsewhere, and continued in this vein making remarks like "why don't you split up' there are plenty of hides"? I just wish I could remember some of the other outrageous remarks he is alleged to have made during the 20 minutes we remained in the hide. He made nasty comments to Maureen, Brian and Michael, and possibly others. He must be an habitual offender, as the locals downstairs were chuckling at his outbursts. More than hour later he followed us round the reserve and passed us near the Hotel hide. He then returned to the Main hide, where he adopted the same posture as before with his poor wife more than one fat person's width to his right. He obviously does this often to deter anyone else from joining them up there. He deserved a bucket of gunge poured over his head, the miserable bar steward!
From the hide itself the rest of us saw a Great Crested Grebe, plus Pochard, Shoveler, and in the afternoon a Water Rail fluttered across from under the hide, concealing itself immediately in the right hand reedbed fragment. A strange grey bird seemed to be sitting statically near Reedy Hide during our afternoon visit. It was right on the edge of our sight. So it was very hard to make anything of it without a telescope. Was it the back of a male Sparrowhawk, but someone else suggested an owl? Eventually it moved, when it was possible to discern it was a Grey Squirrel gorging itself on Hawthorn berries.
After this we walked along the LOTR tunnel, and in the morning we crossed the road & then went round the new lake area where we saw Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal and Friday unmentionables & a couple of us saw a male Bullfinch. After lunch we went the traditional way. I checked out the brand new hide, but could only see 6 Teal, so it wasn't worth the group's while visiting that hide.
The Back of the Rude Pratt & his Better Half
The Ignorant Pillock (right) & Long-Suffering Spouse
On the river bank we saw 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a few Redshanks dotted widely on the estuary mud. In the afternoon though the river was almost as far out as it ever gets, and all the birds had vanished with just a few scattered gulls travelling up the Humber.
From Reedy Hide we could see that the miserable bloke was still in position in the hide opposite. Birds seen looking into the glare of the sun included: Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Shoveler. Unfortunately, when we arrived there after lunch a work party had come out into the open and were burning reeds, so all the wildfowl had fled, only Coots had taken up residence in the water furthest from the smoke. Maureen cracked open her gorgeous mince pies for the morning group, which helped calm things down after the rancid encounter with the unpleasant yellow belly in the first hide.
We made our way along the northern edge of the reserve, but everything was very quiet here with just an occasional Redwing seen in the morning, and Magpies and Grey Squirrel in the afternoon. In the deeper water near the hotel there were a good number of Tufted Ducks with one very handsome drake Goldeneye. The plan was then to sit in the hide opposite the hotel and wait to see if the Kingfisher was around. Unfortunately, a photographing cyclist had set up this public hide with camouflage netting over the window slits. When I peeped through a crack in the door I was met with the staring glare of the occupant, and felt I couldn't introduce my students into this intimidating environment. My participants were requested to pay a nominal fee for the pleasure of visiting this site, and at least 4 of whom had subsequently been insulted by the boorish git in the Main Hide, and now they were being denied access to the public hide with a possible Kingfisher.
In the afternoon at the visitor centre I queried this use of a public hide by a photographer. The person manning the desk, said that such behaviour was not authorised by the trust, and we should have confronted the photographer, and entered the hide anyway. We've never seen this anti-social behaviour happen before, but now we know what to do if this should ever happen again.
The afternoon group had a very pleasant encounter with a Willow Tit, which was almost an adequate compensation for being unable to get into the Kingfisher hide, which was still being commandeered by the photographer. We then shared cars to the visitor centre, which is open every Wednesday afternoon. The morning group encountered a very handsome Heron, and saw another distant example. Our visit raised £17 for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust with just 2 people refusing to contribute. It was unfortunate that what should have been a pleasant day in glorious weather should have been spoiled by the selfish actions of couple of Yellowbellies. And I thought Yorkshire people had a rather unfriendly reputation....