Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Great White Egret is Sunday treat






I wrapped up a good weekend of birding with a couple of hours at Upton Warren which included some splendid views of a Great White Egret in the Broadmeadow lagoon.


Over on the flashes a flock of 10 Black-tailed Godwits were present among other waders including Curlew, Lapwing, LRP’s, Avocets, Green & Common Sandpipers.


The day of the Common Sandpiper





Sundays start time couldn’t have been better timed as Jon & I had a male Hobby hunting a House Martin over Pophills giving us outstanding views. The species which stood out during the visit was the Common Sandpiper, 11 were counted no doubt brought in with the heavy showers.
 
Other highlights recorded were 32 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 10 Mute Swan, 172 Greylags, 93 Canada Geese, 14 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 143 Mallard, 3 Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 56 Tufted Duck, a Red Kite, 182 Coot, family of 4 Oystercatcher (doing well), 5 Little Ringed Plover, 20 Lapwing, 3 Green Sandpipers, family of LBB Gulls (two young), 35 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Common Terns, 1 Kingfisher, 50 Sand Martin and a Yellow Wagtail.


Another day another Sandpiper






A bumper number of Shearwaters flying through Devon on Friday tempted me however for a weekend twitch I stuck to my original plan & headed to Kilsea Wetlands as soon as the first report of the White-rumped Sandpiper came through on the phone.

 

Twitching a flighty bird with a 3 hour journey was always going to have an element on risk involved but It would be worth it if I could pull it off. Confidence increased as it was reported again when I was just an hour away. Safely parked I was literally skipping round to the hide only to be greeted with “It’s gone mate”.

 

Feeling like a burst balloon I decided to make the most of the location and have a good nosey around recording Sandwich, Common & Little Terns, some fantastic coloured Red Knots, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Little Egrets, Common & Green Sandpipers.

 

With the chance to get back to watch the second innings of local cricket I then headed out of Kilsea when the Squire reached me in a rare mile of reception to tell me the White-rumped was back. I quickly turned back along the ten minutes of lanes to park and sprint to the hide. There at last was the target bird of the day. The bird was very distinguishable as it was very pale compared to the Dunlin flock it was with & also smaller. The long primary projections were a feature that really stood out.

 

From a earlier moment of despair the afternoon drive home went very smoothly and to make the day even better I hadn’t missed any cricket due to heavy rain in the midlands.


Monday, 17 July 2017

A slow burner at the pits

 Sparrowhawk above the main pit
Proud parent
 Distant Dunlin
 Common Blue
 Ruddy Darter (Possible Red-veined Darter)
 Downy Gulls
Comma
 Black-tailed Godwit
Mute Swan take off
Brown Argus
 Destruction continues

Like most places there are signs of Autumn migration starting but generally it's been very slow with the weather being not so very British, warm & sunny for prolonged spells.

On the wader front we had a single Black-tailed Godwit for two days before being joined by an additional two. Five juvenile Little Ringed Plovers have been recorded marking them as a continued success whether they continue to flouish would be in doubt for future years as the restoration is now back in full swing. Two Ringed Plovers & a Whimbrel flew through on Sunday morning. A single Common Sandpiper remains but no Green Sands which is unusual for this time of year. A full summer plumage Dunlin stayed for four days leaving on Sunday and there has been regular sightings of the Little Egrets.

John bagged the sites first returning Redstart on Sunday (our second for year) & a Kingfisher. 

Our two Lesser-backed Gull & Oystercatcher chicks continue to do well under close protection of their parents. With mid-week rain forecast we could get something new coming through. 

Thanks to Mark Clarke for forwarding a couple of great shots from in the week. Also thanks to the Jon, Squire, Mike & Terry for forwarding sightings.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Kent jolly for Marsh Sandpiper

 Spot the Marsh Sandpiper ?
 Small groups of twitchers were present
Touchdown Kent
 This chap was too close to see anything
The Squire short-cut !

With the cricket season in full swing I've been preferring to do the patch in the morning and watch the lads play than go out twitching on a Saturday. Then when set for a Sunday jolly out nothing is around to go and see. The same scenario looked to be happening again as both potential Sunday targets gave indications on Saturday it would be better waiting for news before travelling.

Thankfully my and the Squires tactics paid off as the Caspian Tern we'd considered seeing disappeared yet again whilst we headed round the M25 to Cliffe Pools in Kent. Safely parked up the walk took a good 30 minutes on a very uneven surface to reach the viewpoint. 

Once set up it took around ten minutes for the bird to show well as it had been embedded in the reeds making it very difficult to see. Whilst the views were distant you could comfortably pick up its features including thin straight beak, very delicate build and long legs. This eastern European juvenile seemed pretty comfortable most of the time however there were a couple of times the local Avocets and Black-winged Stilts gave the bird a gentle reminder who was in charge.

The RSPB's local ground work has again worked wondered for the Black-winged Stilts as  four juveniles could be observed. Breeding attempts by Stilts has increased since the early 2000's but productivity has been very low. Between 1983 & 2016 only three of the 21 nesting attempts has fledged young. 

The journey back took us an extra thirty minutes as the Squire seemed determined to get us in the channel tunnel bound for the Tour de France. After a detour we also avoided the Silverstone Grand Prix traffic.  The Marsh Sandpiper was a great bird to add to the life list as they only seem to come around every couple of years. Hopefully that pesky Caspain Tern may reappear close to home as that species continues to be elusive. 




Sunday, 9 July 2017

Oystercatcher success

Oystercatcher family
 Distant Greenshank
 Swimming Deer
Greenshanks
 Not a bad place when the sun is out
Sunday morning bike ride

The continued warm weather looks to be giving us every chance of some quality wader movement this autumn, we just need some kind winds now. Friday evenings visit confirmed that our Oystercatchers have bred for the first time for four years. Two chicks were showing well on the main island throughout the weekend. 

Six Common Terns greeted us on arrival on Saturday but they were the only sighting of any note. On Sunday I opted for a four hour plus cycle ride before I headed down to the patch. Two swimming deer were a bizarre observation & a new Little Ringed Plover chick looked to be doing well. Before leaving, a Greenshank landed to take advantage of one of the new islands & seemed comfortable with our flock of Lapwing that are growing by the day.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bee-eater Bingo in Nottinghamshire












(European) Bee-eater reported sightings have been common this year with mostly being frustrating flyovers. It's been a species I've only ever seen in Spain so when 6/7 had been found at a quarry south of Nottingham I quickly arranged an early departure from work. The Squire & the Mayor of Warwick joined me for the pursuit up the M69. No reports on RBA & the Major announcing he had dipped Bee-eaters five times previously slightly dented our confidence.


The birds were first spotted on 25 June at East Leake Cemex Quarry which has very similar habitat at Salford Priors. Quickly parked up, a successful birder pointed us down a bridleway where we past many happy punters returning to their cars. The walk took about ten minutes to the prime spot where you viewed across the quarry to a large ash tree where the birds were showing very well. Just dropping off the large tree and catching dragon flies, bees and various other insects with a few seconds. One of the pairs looked to be on very good terms certainly giving hope they may nest in the quarry. Whilst the birds looked totally stunning when sat on the tree when in flight they were just fantastic to watch, some calling in flight .


A crowd mixed between birders & locals enjoyed great views and  a viewing area with car park has been set up for birders seeking the best views of the birds in the coming days if they stick around. This can be found at Lings Farm, LE12 6RG.


Colourful and unmistakable, Bee-eaters are rare visitors to the UK and normally nest in southern Europe. The last time they nested in the UK was 2015, when two pairs set up home in a quarry in Cumbria. They have also nested on the Isle of Wight (2014), Herefordshire (2005) and Country Durham (2002). These beautiful birds may stay for the next couple of months should they breed.


A quick return journey to Worcestershire with Coldplay on the IPOD rounded off a cracking jolly outing.