Sunday, 17 September 2017

Spotted Crake, Ingrebourne Valley

Another short trip today and a visit to the Ingrebourne Valley, where a Spotted Crake had been located yesterday. Arriving shortly after 8am, It's a short walk from the car park to the viewing screen, but there had been no sign of the bird so far this morning. After 30-45 minutes of scanning, Brian and his lucky jumper picked the bird out. It was moving through the short reeds to the left of the viewing area. It spent the next hour playing hide 'n' seek with us. Showing well at times, but it didn't like open ground and would run from one area of cover to the next.

Spotted Crake

Another year tick added to the list today and the last four days have produced 2 lifers and six year ticks.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

White-winged Black Tern at Tyttenhanger

After yesterday's trip to Lodmoor and Portland in Dorset and the five-hour drive home, we stayed much closer to home today. Just a twenty-mile drive along the M25 and we arrive at Tyttenhanger fishing lakes.
The Tern had first been reported on the 12th originally having been reported as a Black Tern but quickly re-identified as a White-winged Black Tern. It's Favoured Willow Farm Fishing Lake throughout its stay. Park in Willows Activity Farm car park, follow the footpath to the river and cross the bridge to view. 

That was what we should have done, but unsure of the location we instead drove round to the fishing lake tackle shop. Luckily the guy running the Carp fishing lakes allowed us through the gate and to drive round to the bottom lake (Willows). This would not normally be allowed, but we were grateful he allowed it today.

The moulting adult was seen immediately on arrival, Putting on a superb aerial display throughout our visit.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Least & Stilt Sandpipers at Lodmoor

A surprise text from Brian last night, and we are meeting up at 4.30am this morning heading for Dorset. Arriving around 7.30 we quickly fed the car park meter and headed off towards the Bandstand to view the scrape. Luckily the small group of gathered birders put us onto the Least Sandpiper immediately It was busy feeding along the back edge of the scrape. Too distant for the camera but some nice scope views were had.While viewing the Least Sandpiper we are told that the Stilt Sandpiper had been seen earlier but that it had flown to an area out of view. We moved round to the Western footpath and began scanning the birds present. After a few brief scans, a single bird flew in from the South. Checking it out through the scope confirms the ID as the Stilt Sandpiper. Two lifers within an hour of arriving!

Stilt Sandpiper

Moving on to Portland, we receive negative news on the Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, so move on to the Observatory Quarry and after a brief scan, we locate the Wryneck tucked away among the rocks on the opposite side of the Quarry. It briefly appears on the rocks and then drops down onto the Quarry floor.

The Buff-Breasted Sandpiper despite a lengthy search remained elusive and didn't re-appear. The Hoopoe proved just as elusive and we failed to find it during our visit.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Citrine Wagtail, Minsmere RSPB

Pulling into the car park at Minsmere this morning, we headed off along the North path to find the East Scrape covered in sea mist. Visibility was poor with only the island directly in front of the hide clearly visible. 
An hour or so later and the mist began to clear and a more detailed scan of the scrape could begin. Several Pied Wagtails were showing well and while scanning through these the Citrine Wagtail appeared. Landing on the long grass bank it quickly dropped below the bank and out of view. It took flight and during the next two hours, it favoured a small island around post 9. Eventually, it took flight again and headed towards the area around the West Hide and was lost to view.

Good numbers of other birds were feeding out on the scrape and these included Green and Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Ruff, Snipe, Water Rail, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Lapwing and Dunlin. 

We made our way round to the West Hide and managed to re-locate the Citrine Wagtail close to number 2 post. It remained distant but Brian managed to grab the photo below.

Citrine Wagtail 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Woodchat Shrike: Chipping Sodbury, Gloucester

Having dipped at least four Woodchat Shrikes in the last few years, two of which were in my home county, I was very keen to try for the Gloucestershire bird. First reported on the 30th August it was still present yesterday evening. 
The forecast for today was not good, with light rain in the morning and heavy rainfall for the whole afternoon. Nonetheless, we set off shortly after 5am and arrived around 7am. The rain had already started to fall as we set off across the common in search of the Shrike. Luckily the original finder was just heading off on his morning circuit of the site and gave us some good pointers as to where to begin searching. 
The rain became heavier and it wasn't looking good, but sightings of several Whinchats and Redstarts were very welcome. With the Whinchat needed for a year tick. 
Shortly after 8am, the rain eased and with a break in the clouds, the Shrike suddenly appeared at the top of a small bush!

It's not a good feeling dipping a bird, but thankfully we haven't experienced that feeling very often. Woodchat Shrike though has proved an exception for me, today I've finally managed to see one!

I would have been happy to go straight back home after seeing it, but being close to Slimbridge and never visited before to seemed rude not to visit.
We started off by visiting the hides that looked out across scrapes and grassland, finding truly wild birds like Green and Wood Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Wagtails and Common Crane.

Sir Peter Scott

We then spent the remainder of our visit walking around the captive bird pens. Although captive they do give you a great chance to get up close to birds normally seen at a much greater distance. Slimbridge has a huge collection of birds, allowing close views of ducks such as Canvasback, Cinnamon Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Wood Duck, Lesser Scaup, Eider, Barrow's Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Hooded Merganser. Several species of Geese were also on show including Red-breasted, Bar-headed, Bean, and Pink-footed. Several species of Flamingo were also on show around the wetland centre.

We found it a very enjoyable place to visit, just a shame we went on a day that it rained the entire time spent there. Hopefully, we can pay it a return visit in more pleasant weather conditions.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Western Swamphen: Accepted by BOURC!

More good news after arriving home, another addition to the life list!

Taken from the BOU website

Red-Necked Phalarope, Abberton Reservoir

With positive news that the Red-necked Phalarope had remained at Abberton into its second day, we made the fifty mile trip around mid-morning.
Upon arrival, we quickly joined the handful of birders already present and found the Red-necked Phalarope immediately.  It remained distant throughout our stay but occasionally ventured close enough to obtain some nice scope views.
An added bonus was the presence of a Pectoral Sandpiper. Viewing was proving difficult with the heat haze and distance involved. But again some nice scope views were had when the bird moved around the muddy spits while feeding. 
The reported Spoonbill from earlier this morning had moved on by the time we arrived, but a Great White Egret was showing well at half the distance of the pec Sandpiper.

Hide/viewing screen at Wigborough Bay

While watching the Phalarope we were entertained by the Red Arrows. Almost certainly from the Clacton Air Show held today. The final sighting of the day was a fly over Spitfire.