Sunday, 29 May 2016

It's not just a Hobby!

Having met up with Brian at 4am we headed off towards Dungeness hoping to find the Rosefinch from the previous day still on site. Unfortunately after having walked the moat around the obs and then the whole area around the trapping area and Long Pits there was no sight or sound of the bird. A Black Redstart was showing well on the power station wires but there was very little else.
A brief stop at Arc Pit produced Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier but again it was very quiet. We returned to the reserve to find the gate still locked, so decided to head for Galloways. Having only driven a short distance from the reserve Brian spotted a Hobby perched up on an old wooden building, using the car as a hide it allowed a close approach and gave fantastic views!

We left Dungeness and headed for Worth Marsh hoping to locate the Montagu's Harrier. Soon after arriving it was seen hunting the fields at the side of the railway tracks. It was soon mobbed by the local crows and it drifted across the tracks and out of view.
A brief detour before heading for Elmley in search of Spotted Flycatchers paid off when we managed to find a pair shortly after arriving at the site.

Spotted Flycatcher

The entrance track at Elmley proved relatively quiet.A Marsh Harrier dropped into the grass and showed well, before it was attacked by Lapwings trying to protect their young. Sadly for them the Harrier left with a youngster in it's talons.

Marsh Harrier

It took a while to locate any Yellow Wagtails but eventually a few were seen before we left for home.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Great Reed Warbler Paxton Pits, Cambridgeshire

Having met up with Brian this afternoon we head off to Paxton Pits Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. Sixty miles later and we are parked up in the car park and heading off along the Heron Trail. Before arriving at the Washout Pit, we can already hear the Great Reed Warbler blasting out it's song. We join the small group of birders already present and scan the reedbeds opposite. It wasn't long before the bird was found, at first low in the reeds then higher as it made it's way up the reed stems into full view. 

Great Reed Warbler

As we walked back towards the car park a Turtle Dove flew up and headed across the tree tops for a bonus year tick.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Great Spotted Cuckoo Portland, Dorset

The lure of adding Great Spotted Cuckoo to the life list proved too much this morning. Meeting up with Brian at 4am, the 168 miles ahead of us passed without incident and having made good time we arrived in Reap Lane Portland around 6.45am. we joined a small group of birders already on site. Forty five minutes later there was still no sign of the bird. Brian having walked up the road and scanned the surrounding fields and allotments returned without having seen any sign of the bird.
Just as we began to think we had missed our chance of seeing the bird news broke that two birders had managed to locate the bird in the top field, We headed off up the hill and were pleased to find the bird perched up in a nearby bush. A nesting Blackbird soon started harassing the Cuckoo and it took flight and headed back down towards the allotments.

It eventually returned to it's favoured feeding area and we enjoyed watching it gorge itself on caterpillars for the next hour. Having been enjoyed by plenty of arriving birders, the bird took flight and headed off high towards the observatory, where it remained for the majority of the day.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Franklin's Gull and Red-Footed Falcon in Essex

Saturday 14th May

Having met up with Brian at midday, we briefly contemplated making the trip to Portland for the Great Spotted Cuckoo!
Quickly seeing sense we instead headed for Abberton in search of the Franklin's Gull and were rewarded with prolonged flight views of the bird as it flew back and forth across the reservoir. Also present were at least three Black Terns and Two Arctic Terns among the numerous Common Terns.

We then headed to Vange Marsh and immediately located the Red-Footed Falcon. It spent the majority of the time in the air either hunting or being chased by the local gulls.

Red-footed Falcon

Also present were a pair of Black-winged Stilts. Judging by the mating taking place there maybe some offspring in the near future.

The Red-footed Falcon remained until the temperature dropped slightly and then disappeared, presumably to go to roost. The Black-winged Stilts remained until two Avocets dropped in and promptly harassed the stilts. They took to the air and headed off in the direction of Bowers Marsh.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Gibraltar Point

With news of an Alpine Accentor being found at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire yesterday, we decided to change our planned trip to Norfolk and head for Lincolnshire instead. It was more in hope than expectation, and upon arrival at 6.30am the signs were not looking good.As we drove along the entance track towards the car park several birders were already making their way back to their cars!
We stuck it out for an hour or so and then decided a stroll around the reserve was warranted. As we returned to the car news broke of a Bonelli's Warbler having be found. Having joined a group of birders it was soon heard singing from a Sycamore tree, but the bird proved much more difficult to actually see. It flew from the tree and was eventually re-found in the scrub behind the second car park and would allow much better views. The calls identified the bird as a Western Bonelli's Warbler. The locals were saying it was a first for the county! An added bonus here was the presence of several Green Hairstreak Butterflies, my first sighting of this species.

Green Hairstreak

From here we reverted back to our original plan and headed for Choseley in search of Dotterel. Having pulled of the road shortly before the drying barns we began scanning the field to the West and quickly found several Dotterel feeding relatively close by. A more thorough search produced a count of twenty four birds!


A brief stop at Titchwell was rewarded with views of two Wood Sandpipers on the Thornham side of the main path. A scan of the Freshwater Marsh added two Temminck Stint and a single Little Stint along with Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper.
The walk back towards the reserve centre added another year tick when a Whinchat was seen perched up on a wire fence.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Lady Amherst's Pheasant & Oriental Turtle Dove!

Friday 29th April,  Sunday 1st May

I arrived at Lidlington in Bedfordshire around 6am and after spending six hours looking through a fence, all I came away with was 2 very distant calls and absolutely no sighting of the Lady Amherst's Pheasant! That evening it was again reported and accompanied by a photograph.
Having resisted the temptation all day Saturday to return, I gave in on Sunday and arrived on site at 5.30am. Walking through the cemetery I could already hear the Lady A calling, The calls seemed to be coming from the back of the wooded area as I approached the wooden steps heading up the slope, but no amount of scanning could locate any sight of the bird! The bird called consistently for the next two hours and seemed to be moving down the ridge. Having walked down to the lower ride area the calls seemed to get louder and closer. I walked down to try to get a better view of the ridge in case it came wandering along the top and as soon as I did the bird appeared on the track on the lower ride. a mad dash back up the hill and luckily the bird was still in sight.

It ran left out of view and then back right onto the track before running right and heading into what looked like thicker cover. There must have been a channel through the scrub because it suddenly appeared on top of the ridge. In total, I saw the bird for no more than two minutes but it was a memorable two minutes!

Monday 2nd May

Brian having arrived back from Scotland didn't fancy the Lidlington trip (who could blame him?) and had instead headed to Otford and bagged himself the Oriental Turtle Dove within minutes of arriving.
So this morning dad and I made the forty mile trip to Otford in Kent, arriving at 6.30 to find plenty of birders already present on the corner of the road (The Butts) scanning the trees of the favoured garden. The bird was already showing, but after a brief view, it flew onto the ground and out of sight. The wait began and continued for the next two hours. One false alarm saw us heading for the other end of the road before everyone returned to the original spot. Soon afterwards the bird was re-found, this time perched up in the tall trees allowing some very nice views.

Oriental Turtle Dove (subspecies meena)

 Birders waiting for the bird to show

Two lifers in two days, a disappointing Friday had turned into a very good Bank Holiday weekend!