Monday, 17 September 2012

Minsmere: Pectoral Sandpiper

Brian's back from his week long Norfolk break. He's had a great week, bagging Barred Warbler, Baird's and White-rumped Sandpiper.

 He's well pleased to find that the Baillons Crake at Rainham is still present, and wastes no time Saturday morning getting to Rainham. He's there before first light and by 7am he's added the crake to his life and year list.

So Sunday morning we meet up at 6am and make the 100 mile drive to Minsmere. Punching Dunwich into the satnav takes us a slightly different route than normal.
Red Admiral
Turning off the main roads and onto minor roads, produces the biggest number of Red-legged Partridges I have ever seen. They are everywhere, across the roads and in every field we drive past.

We reach Minsmere car park by 7.30 and make our way to the Bittern Hide. Two Marsh Harriers are sitting up in the bushes as I open the hide flap. We spend a couple of hours in the hide which produces four Marsh Harriers, Great views of a Bittern as it flies across the reeds, a Kingfisher which I pick up in flight through the scope and then watch as it lands on reeds at the side of a small pool.
Bearded Tits are "pinging" all around us, but proving much more difficult to get views of.  As are the Cetti's which are very vocal but frustrating difficult to pin down.
A Red deer wades through the nearby channel, it climbs the bank and then it stands at the side of the path so I grab a quick shot before it moves further up the path.
After two hours we take a walk round to Island Mere Hide, A quick scan of the water reveals very little. Then a Sparrowhawk is spotted perched on a log in the middle of the water. It spends the next fifteen minutes flying between here and another log on the water. Even the appearance of a large flock of geese (mainly Canada with a couple of Greylags amongst them) don't move the Sparrowhawk on.
Little Egret
The return walk doesn't produce to much in the way of birds, but does provide plenty of Butterflies and Dragonflies. Red Admirals are everywhere and there's also good numbers of Speckled Wood. Small and Large Whites are also seen.
Dragonflies are also plentiful with Red darters and Migrant Hawkers the main species on show.

There's been no news of the Pectoral Sandpiper this morning, but we make our way to the Konik trail and  reach the bottom pool where the bird had been reported from the previous day.
There's a few birders already present and scanning for the sandpiper, We learn that the bird has been seen this morning by the warden at around 9.30am and was amongst the Greylags at the time. After a good scan of the pool, made harder by the thick vegetation surrounding it there's still no sign of the bird.
It does produce a very smart Little Stint, at least 15 Spotted redshanks, 4 Greenshanks, double figures of Snipe, along with Little Egret, Lapwing, Teal, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits.
We start the walk back  towards the sluice, when a fellow birder who we were standing with waves to us from further along the trail.
Konik Pony
He's just seen the pectoral Sandpiper fly in and land on the second pool. After a minute of searching we are all on the bird and enjoying great views. It gets flushed by some geese flying overhead, but lands again and continues to feed.
4 Ruff are also feeding on the pool along with a couple of Garganey and 2 calling Greenshank drop in and start to feed.
Well pleased with the views of the sandpiper we make our way back along the trail and stop to look at the Konik ponies. The sign on the gate as you enter says they can kick and bite if alarmed. I took a chance and grabbed a photo before making my way back to the beach.

A great day's birding with the added bonus of seeing Alun Armstrong from one of my favourite TV series New tricks walking along the path with a group of people. No idea if he is a birder, but it was nice to see him there.

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