Monday, 12 June 2017

Elegant Tern, Church Norton

On the 7th June a colour ringed Elegant Tern was reported at Hayling Island in Hampshire, it flew off around 11.30am. Only to be re-found early evening on the 9th at Sandy Point. On the 10th it re-located to the harbour at Church Norton. This individual is reportedly the same bird that regularly spends each summer at Banc d'Arguin, Gironde in France, It's been DNA tested in France and proven to be a pure Elegant Tern. 

Brian had planned to make the trip Saturday afternoon but severe back pain ended that idea, So it was a nervous wait hoping it would stick around until Sunday and that Brian's back pain would ease enough to make the journey possible.
With the bird still being reported among the tern colony at 9.20 Saturday evening, we set off at 5am hoping for news on route. Shortly after 6am news breaks that the bird was still present. Taking a chance we drive down to the church and find a parking space right next to the footpath. Shortly after 7am we're Heading down the footpath to join around thirty other birders already on site. The bird is not showing but we're told it's among the tern colony in the longer grass. Following the directions of other birders (pink house, find the basketball net on the wall, come down directly in front of that to the tern island and that's where the bird went  down)
With the scope trained on that area, soon the shout goes up that the bird is in the air. It proves surprisingly easy to pick out among the other terns and gulls. It shows well in the scope flying around the island and along the electric fence line for some 10-15 minutes and then drops back down on the island in exactly the same place as before. This would be the pattern for the next hour until it suddenly flew out to sea and would not return to the harbour until mid-morning. 

Elegant Tern

Large numbers of Med Gulls were present on the banks in front of the fenced area and a flock of 25-30 Little Terns were seen and several of these dropped in to fish in the harbour. Among the many Black-headed Gulls I managed to pick out a single Little Gull feeding among the muddy margins for another year tick. A more unusual sight was a pair of Peregrine sitting among the short grass a short distance from the tern colony close to a group of Cormorants. By the time we left the thirty or so birders present on arrival had grown in size to nearer 300! 

Some of the assembled birders.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Honey Buzzards and Goshawks: New Forest

With good numbers of Honey Buzzards being reported in recent days, This morning we headed for the New Forest in the hope that we might connect with any displaying birds and any other raptors.
Having parked up in Acres Down car park we headed off up the track and joined two locals already on site. 

It wasn't long before the first raptors appeared. First up was a Common Buzzard swiftly followed by a Goshawk. The Goshawk allowing super views as it circled above the treeline for several minutes.
By mid morning more Common Buzzards were seen, and then a Honey Buzzard appeared just above the pines. It started to drift across the tops of the pines until a Goshawk came up and started mobbing it. Eventually the Goshawk lost interest and the Honey Buzzard flew in and out of the clouds. I managed to stay on it and was rewarded with several wing-clapping display flights!

The view from the view-point
Before we headed back down the track towards the car Brian picked up a a Peregrine flying towards us. It flew directly overhead and was a good ending to the session.
Still needing Redstart for the year we headed off along one of the tracks hoping to connect. Taking one of the side tracks we heard the distinctive sound of a Wood Warbler and with a bit of Patience managed some nice views as it sang from the treetops. No Redstarts had been seen on the walk out, but our luck changed on the walk back. Firstly a female Redstart was picked up and then the beautiful male close by. A second pair and another male were also seen before reaching the car.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The invisible Corncrake: Alvecote Pools, Warks

Leaving home at 3.15am this morning the journey along the M25 and up the M1 was going smoothly until we found that junction 11-12 at Dunstable was completely closed! Following the diversions added another 40 minutes to the journey, eventually arriving in Tamworth around 6am. Having parked up in Polesworth Road we joined three other birders already present and were told the Corncrake had been heard calling frequently. We didn't have to wait very long before it called again. During the next two hours the bird would utter it's crex-crex call every 4-5 minutes, it followed this routine closely enough to know when it was going to start calling again!
However trying to locate the actual area the bird was calling from proved much more difficult.

The viewing gate at junction of Polesworth Road & Linden Lane

On route to Rutland Water we made a short detour to Kelham Bridge hoping to add Willow Tit to the year list. Unfortunaely the feeders were devoid of seed and with so much natural food available at this time of year they didn't show or call during this visit.

With limited time remaining we made the thirty five mile journey East to Manton Bay. Pulling into the layby off the A6003 we managed to get some very nice scope views of the Osprey. The female sitting on the nest along with two visible chicks and the male perched close by. The male soon took to the air and returned a short time later with a newly caught fish and dropped it into the nest.

The Manton Bay Ospreys

I grabbed a hand held phone record shot through the scope before we started the two hour return trip home.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Marsh Warbler, RSPB Lakenheath Fen

An early morning visit to Lakenheath this morning began with a walk out along the river bank following the River Little Ouse heading towards Joist Fen Viewpoint. A further 300m past the last gate we join the only other birder present and quickly pick up the Marsh Warbler singing close by within the reeds. During our two hour session it sang almost constantly and would work it's way up from the bottom of the reeds and perch right at the top allowing for stunning views. 

Below is a short  video clip taken through the scope.

Several fly over Cuckoo's and Bitterns were seen from Joist Fen and New Fen viewpoints as well as Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Kingfisher, Hobby, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.

Marsh Warbler showing well in first cut of reeds left of the first bush in photo

Below photo taken through the scope, appears to show a tick below the eye near the gape.

Marsh Warbler

As we approached the track for Mere Hide a Grasshopper Warbler began reeling to give Brian another year tick.  It proved far more elusive than the Marsh Warbler, remaining well hidden among the branches of a small tree a short distance from the track.

View from New Fen Viewpoint

Leaving Lakenheath we made the short five mile trip to Brandon and after parking up along the narrow track of Gas House Drove we headed along the footpath and into the woods. Immediately the Wood Warbler could be heard singing. Soon afterwards the bird appeared among the Oaks and Silver Birches giving superb views and it belted out it's familiar song.

Monday, 15 May 2017

RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk

The weather forecast for today was for light rain turning heavier and then clearing towards late morning. This proved to be spot on. 
Before heading for Titchwell we made a brief stop at Choseley so Brian could hopefully grab some views of Dotterel. As we arrived heavy rain began to fall so we parked up near the barns and waited for the rain to ease. Red-Legged and Grey partridge along with Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer in the nearby fields were a nice distraction and soon the rain began to ease. A scan of the field South of the drying barns and Brian soon had the Dotterel in the scope. I wasn't as keen to get a soaking, having already seen Dotterel on a recent trip to Herts but couldn't resist a brief view before we moved on to Titchwell.
A scan of the freshmarsh from Island Hide and then Parrinder Hide produced good views of Common, Sandwich and Little Terns along with Sanderling, Little Stint, Ringed and Little-ringed Plovers.

A brief stop at the picnic tables was rewarded with views of a Spotted Flycatcher in the surrounding Oak trees. While watching the Spotted Flycatcher the soft "purring" of a Turtle Dove could be heard. After heading back to the car park the Turtle Dove was soon found perched high up on a bare tree giving superb views.

A short detour on the way home to Fen Drayton Lakes in Cambridgeshire failed to produce any sightings of the Red-footed falcon during a two hour visit but several Hobby were showing well.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Kittiwake & Arctic Tern: King George V Reservoir

A very brief visit to KGV Reservoir this evening produced nice views of a couple of Arctic Terns. Firstly found flying low along the Western edge of the South basin and then resting on one of the small boats. I managed a couple of record shots through the scope.

Three Common Sandpipers were seen flying low across the South Basin heading towards the causeway and large numbers of Sand Martin, Swallows and Swifts were seen.

I also managed an earlier visit on the 29th April hoping the Kittiwake had stayed overnight. Luckily it had. First seen drifting along the Southern edge of the South basin, it then took flight and headed West over the River Lee Navigation channel only to reappear a short time later when it landed on a buoy and promptly went to sleep.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Kentish Plover: Pitstone Quarry

A trip to Abberton Reservoir yesterday proved very frustrating. It Started well enough with views of Black Tern flying over the Reservoir from Lodge Lane viewpoint on arrival. But the Bonaparte's Gull failed to show despite scans from several locations and it was the same outcome when I failed to find any Arctic Terns among the numerous Common Terns. 
The mistake of the day was when news broke of the continued presence of the Kentish Plover at The Naze. We foolishly decided to drive the extra thirty miles for it. On arrival we were told it was an hour's walk to the area and that if not back by 3pm you could get cut off by the incoming tide. Luckily we spoke to a couple of birders who had just returned and were told the report of the birds presence had been erroneous and that there had been no sightings all day!

Monday 1st May

Breakfast this morning was interrupted by news of another Kentish Plover sighting. This time at Pitstone Quarry on the Herts, Bucks border. Forty miles from home, it wasn't long before we were on route. Upon arrival we managed to find a parking space opposite the entrance to the woodland path and had soon joined the assembled birders. A quick scan of the area and the Kentish Plover is located.

Pitstone Quarry

While we were present it spent most of it's time feeding among the sandy soil in between the pools and would occasionally be chased by a Little Ringed Plover. Although it was still present when we left a couple of hours later, it didn't hang around much longer and was seen flying off shortly before mid-day. 

A very rewarding trip after yesterday's frustrations.