Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Stone Curlews in Wonderful Breckland

Home from work and just deciding whether to watch the Spain or Ireland match tonight, When the phone rings. It's Brian and he's thinking of trying for Nightjars. Now I can either stay in and watch the footie or spend the evening in the Brecks? It takes all of a second to decide.
Traffic is good and we arrive around eight. Turning off the main roads and driving along the narrow track Brian spots a Little Owl sitting on a large haystack. Dad still needs it for his year list so is well pleased, Especially having dipped the Little Bittern earlier in the day much to Brian's amusement.
Continuing down the track the tarmac turns to sand and it gets much more rough and uneven. There's hardly any wind tonight and the temperature is around 20 degrees.
A Stone Curlew is spotted and then two more are heard calling and then seen in flight. We park up along the track and scan for more sightings of Stone Curlews. There's a very noisy Woodlark singing behind us and it's found sitting on the top of a small bush.
Scanning the area west of the Woodlark we find a Hobby flying low and fast over the heath, It turns into the sun and gives some super views. Shortly afterwards it lands on a nearby fence post and with the sun behind us and directly on the bird , it's a stunning looking bird.
Back to scanning for Stone Curlews, But it's not long before I get distracted again, This time it's the sight of an Owl flying over. It's quite high in the sky and it takes a little while to realise that's it's a Barn Owl. It drops down below the tree line and begins it's search for a meal. I never tire of watching a hunting Barn Owl and tonight was no different.
Seen Anything?
As we follow the owl along the fence line, Two falcons appear from nowhere. One is clearly a Hobby and it's being harassed by a smaller, faster and even more agile bird. The Merlin continues to pursue the Hobby until it flies away to the distant trees and out of sight.
It's now 9.30pm and it's still surprising bright. A Cuckoo is calling in the distance and we have been hearing it for much of the time we have been standing there. 
Away in the distance in the wooded area I can hear a Tawny Owl calling, It's a year tick and one which was pretty much guaranteed. On the opposite side of the track there's a Little Owl calling from somewhere close but from cover, and a male Stonechat sits up on top of a bush and starts calling, trying hard to compete with the Woodlarks and Cuckoo.
Driving back along the sandy track, It's now 10.30pm and  we can still hear the Cuckoo calling, Woodlarks singing and Owls hooting.

The only disappointment of the evening is no Nightjars heard or seen. But it's been a really enjoyable 2-3 hours and one we will no doubt be doing again in the not to distant further.

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