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.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dotterel Therfield, Hertfordshire

An early afternoon report of four Dotterel present in a bare field at Therfield in Hertfordshire had to be worth a visit. A thirty five mile drive up the A10 encountering sun, rain and a hail storm on route before we could start searching for the bare field between Therfield and Reed End. Luckily another birder had put out a grid reference to the location, which proved a huge help in finding the field. Parking up at the junction along Mill Lane we headed up along the dirt track and found a handful of birders already on site.

Reaching the corner of the field all four Dotterel could be seen feeding in the far bottom corner. Two very smart looking females and two males. They fed along the ridge and would drop down and disappear from time to time before reappearing.

The adjoining fields also held good numbers of Yellowhammer and several Grey Partridge were seen nearby and in fields bordering Haywood Lane. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Minsmere alive with Warblers

Having arrived at Minsmere later than expected due to the A12 closure, we headed off towards Island Mere hide. The reedbed was alive with the sound of "pinging" Bearded Tits, and it wasn't long before several birds were seen. Sedge and Reed Warblers were also very vocal with both species showing extremely well among the reeds either side of the hide. The real target though was the Savi's warbler that had first been reported on the 19th. We managed to hear several short bursts of song during our visit but views of the bird proved much more difficult. 

Savi's Warbler (taken in 2014)

The scrub areas around the hide and Adder trail were alive with several species of Warbler including Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, and Cetti's Warbler. Bitterns were "Booming" close by and we could still hear the Savi's singing in the background. A Common Buzzard was joined by a Sprawk giving close views as they drifted across the blue skies and a Weasel made a brief appearance as it crossed the footpath in front of us. We failed to find the Stone Curlew in the fields from North Wall but did locate a couple of Wheatear in the same area.

We moved on the Boyton Marshes where I failed to see the two Cranes that flew over in the far distance. Eight Whimbrel feeding in a nearby field were much more obvious and a welcome year tick.

From here it was a short drive to Hollesley Marshes. A prolonged scan of the grazing marshes and scrape areas finally produced the hoped for Wood Sandpiper. Good numbers of Ruff and Snipe and a single Common Sandpiper were all present on the scrape along with the usual wildfowl. Before leaving another Whimbrel dropped in on the Grazing marsh along with several Yellow Wagtails.

Another good days birding adding four more year ticks and going past the 200 this year.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Lee Valley. First Nightingale returns

I made a brief visit to Fishers Green early Saturday morning. Walking across the bridge towards the sub station gate I heard a very short burst of Nightingale song. I waited for it to erupt into full song but it never happened. Continuing past the sub station and crossing the Bailey bridge I began searching the scrub area. Low temperatures and windy conditions didn't help with finding any new arrivals. Thirty minutes of searching had only produced a pair of Blackcap and several Chiffchaff. As I was thinking of moving on the distinctive "reeling" of a Grasshopper Warbler started up. It sang for the next twenty minutes but always from deep cover.
I took the same route back towards the car and was rewarded with a Nightingale now in full song. Photo below is from a previous visit.


Sunday 16th April

This morning I made another brief visit, this time to KGV Reservoir in Chingford. After negotiating the dodgy padlock on the gate (falls apart after you turn the key) we made our way up the slope and began scanning the South basin. Very little was found on the water but on the jetty by the boat hut we found two Common Sandpipers, and a Grey Wagtail. 

Common Sandpiper

A complete circuit of the South basin added my first Common Whitethroat of the year along with several Linnets and a cracking pair of Wheatears were found on the West side on the return walk.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Ring Ouzels on Mersea Island

Shortly after passing the gate at Landguard early this morning, we had a very brief view of a possible female Ring Ouzel. The call was right and a very brief view of the bird on the ground seemed to show silver in the wings. Unfortunately it took flight almost immediately after landing and headed towards the area around the ranger's cottage. Several searches failed to produce any sightings among the numerous Blackbirds found. The concrete blocks and short cut grass were alive with Wheatears, with at least twelve seen. We again failed to locate the Black Redstart, but picked out a single Little Ringed Plover among the Ringed Plovers.

From here we headed back into Essex with a visit to Mersea Island. Parking up at the far end of East Mersea Road, we took the footpath to the sea wall and continued walking until we came to the second paddock. We scanned the paddock but failed to find any Ring Ouzels, however another Wheatear was found and close by was a stunning male Yellow Wagtail. Then both male Ring Ouzels flew from a nearby Hawthorn bush and began feeding within the paddock. 

They would follow this pattern throughout our three hour stay. Flying up into the Hawthorn bushes and then dropping back down to feed shortly afterwards. Before leaving my first Swallow of the year was seen hawking low over the grass within the paddock.

A brief visit to Abberton on the way home added another Little Ringed Plover along with a distant Scaup but we failed to locate the Velvet Scoter.

Abberton Reservoir