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.