Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday Afternoon With The Birds At Baihe Reservoir (白河水庫)

Arrival at the mid-point of the reservoir's southern shore at about 2.25pm; most of this area would be submerged during the summer but the water has now receded, not simply due to the lower precipitation in the winter but because of the ongoing draw-down for the construction of the new sluiceway.
My favourite shot of the day; for years I've been waiting to get a shot as good as this of an Osprey; they are the most difficult birds of prey to photograph in and around Taiwan's reservoirs.
A breeding pair of Black Kites attack a Crested Serpent Eagle. Guess why?
The middle half of the reservoir's southern arm - to the right (west), the reservoir becomes a de-facto swamp flooded with reed-beds, and to the left the eastern half of the reservoir remains relatively unperturbed.
I believe these are Sandpipers; they are actually standing on the mud just below the reservoir's surface; as you go further westward, the reservoir's depth continually shrinks until it is less than an inch deep.
The Black Kites mentioned earlier have a nest, which raises the question of whether the Eagle was hanging around in order to poach the chicks. An unattended chick would be easy meat for a Crested Serpent Eagle, which is about 50% larger than an adult Kite. With the reservoir's water levels now very low, there may be fewer fish to catch.

Fewer fish to catch would certainly be a problem for the Ospreys, who are now in competition with the Egrets along the reservoir's shorelines.

Another well-decent Osprey shot taken from my boat.
And another.
Papa Kite on patrol once more; the proximity of the Ospreys to the Kite's nest has not gone unnoticed.
The Ospreys are my favourite birds, partly because they are usually so difficult to photograph. Today was an exception.
Papa Kite begins to chase off one of the two Ospreys, though nowhere near as aggressively as he had attacked the eagle earlier on.
The Osprey is wary of the Kite and banks to avoid him.
After some time circling and chasing the Kite eventually left the Ospreys alone and did not attack them, though whether this was due to fatigue or some altered perception of the potential threat they posed I don't know.
The mid-point on the southern shoreline as I was leaving at about 4.30pm. This section of the reservoir is almost completely separated from both the western, eastern and norther sections of the reservoir. That is partly down to geography, partly due to the swamp-like disaster at the west end, and partly due to the very low level of the water. 
The dam crest has recently been excavated for repair; there is a new wall of fresh concrete on the upstream side and a new road will be laid along the top of the crest.
That corner of the southwestern end of the reservoir connects to the northern section and it was once possible to take a boat through there. Now excavators are driving through presumably to work on clearing out the massive sediment deposits that stretch out from the southwest and into the northern section some hundred meters or so.
The new wall along the dam crest as seen from the upstream side.
Closing panorama shot over the southwestern section of the reservoir; or what is left of it. There is an enormous amount of work to be done here in excavating all the excess sediment that underpins the reed-beds, and I can remember saying that this needed to be done about six years ago. Better late than never.

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