Saturday, 30 March 2013

Garganey and Whooper Swans at Minsmere

The weather today followed a similar pattern to the rest of the month. Driving down the A12 we had a brillant sunrise, followed by a snow flurry, followed by grey skies and as we pulled into the car park at Dunwich Heath we were met with brighter clearer skies.
Leaving the car, we headed off down one of the tracks looking for Dartford Warblers. At first there's no sight nor sound of any in the area. With only Chaffinch, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits seen. After spotting a herd of Red Deer, we decided to cut across the track trying to stay within a safe distance so as not to spook them. Stepping through the heather I managed to flush a Woodcock, a year tick for dad and myself.
I dropped down among the taller bushes and managed to get a couple of shots of the deer before a walker sent them running.

Brian having wandered off further down the track had heard a Dartford Warbler within a nearby gorse bush. I managed to join him just as the bird flies from behind the bush and lands a short distance away. Getting some great if brief views as it perches on top of the bush. Three birds were seen in the short time we spent here.
Moving on to Minsmere, first stop for me is the feeders outside the reserve centre. The feeders here have become a regular and reliable spot for myself to bag a  Marsh Tit for the year list. Again with a little patience they produced the goods.
After a quick visit to the cafe for a coffee it's onto the reserve. Hearing that there was a pair of Gargeney present the day before, we head straight for Island Mere Hide. After a brief stop on the way to check out a roving tit flock, which held good numbers of Goldcrests we arrived at the hide to find the Garganey still present but mostly obscured and sleeping. Several Marsh Harriers and a Sprawk mobbed by crows entertained us while waiting for the Garganey to become active.

Garganey  (taken by B Anderson)

A slight detour for a check to see if the reported Firecrest is showing proves fruitless. It does produce more sightings of Goldcrest and a Treecreeper. While I'm searching for the Firecrest Brian nips back to check on the Garganey's. The photo above is one of the photo's he managed to get on his return.

At the South Hide, three Whooper Swans (2 adult and a juvenile) are showing well. But a scan of the scrape doesn't produce any Med Gulls, and I managed to miss a year tick in the form of a Caspian Gull.

Whooper Swan

A detour on the way home to Wivenhoe, but it's a no show from the Long-eared Owl. On the estuary there's Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Redshanks and Oystercatchers.

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