Four of us visited Eston Ponds on a cool and overcast day with the odd drizzle. Not a great day for birding nor photography unfortunately.
Following Barry Swaddle’s example we checked in at the mill and then went down to the top ponds to the right of the mill entrance. This is private property. We were not aware of this until we met the farm owner – Derek Bennet – luckily a very friendly farmer. BLPN birders are welcome to visit but he asked that we call him first (tel: 082 953 7911) so he can advise his security.
Our morning was therefore in two parts – the first at Derek Bennet’s farm and then a drive round the ponds below the Eston Mill.
It was easier to view waterbirds at the farm ponds because you can get closer to the mud banks and water’s edge.
The lowest Eston mill pond was virtually dry. The large pond above it had one stretch of water close by next to the dam wall but most of the pond is covered in vegetation with the odd open area to view waterbirds from afar.
Perhaps the highlight of the day were the 2 pairs of African Snipes together on the mudbanks at one of the farm ponds. And we heard an African Rail in the large Mill pond.
A Lanner Falcon was very obliging for a photo shoot too. Other raptors seen included an African Marsh Harrier being bombed by Blacksmith Lapwings (Lapsmiths for short) and an overhead flypast of a Black Sparrowhawk.
Unfortunately no Orange-breasted Waxbills were seen – probably due to the weather. This was one of the species we came to find.
In all we saw some 52 species – mostly waterbirds.
Below are some photos of the birds seen:
Paul & Sally Bartho