Wednesday 30 March 2022

Green -winged and Blue-winged Teals

Having spent the morning putting the finishing touches to Dad's new front gates and fence, we headed for Wilstone Reservoir which is part of a complex of reservoirs known as Tring Reservoirs. We were in search of a drake Green-winged Teal. After climbing the forty-two steps we headed round to the hide and quickly located the Teal in front of one of the islands. It was distant for photos but we enjoyed super scope views.

Green-winged Teal

View from the hide

A Blue-winged Teal had been reported at Marlow and we were now only 20 miles from the site.  We used the car park along Pound Lane, but we could have parked along Lower Pound Lane. We followed the track past the kissing gate for around 800m and found the Lower Grounds Pools. The Teal was feeding along the edge of the reeds on the right-hand pool. It was the only bird present on that pool.

There is some debate as to the credentials of this bird, but it's on my year list unless it's proven not to be.

Friday 25 March 2022

Belted Kingfisher. Samlesbury, Lancashire

On the 8th of November last year, a birder/fisherman was spending the day fishing on the River Ribble in Lancashire when a Belted Kingfisher came flying down the river towards him! You can read his account of the sighting here. There were a few sceptical remarks about the sighting but after no further confirmed sightings for sixteen days the bird was finally found in a tree bordering the River Ribble north-east of Brockholes LWT. To have any chance of seeing the bird you needed to navigate a steep muddy vertical slope and there were also warnings about keeping an eye on rising water levels. 

The last sightings at Brockhill were on the 30th of November, and it wasn't until the 20th of December that the bird was again found. This time along the River Darwen at Samlesbury. The bird could be very elusive, with numerous birders dipping it and having to make several trips before eventually connecting with it. 

We had resisted the temptation of making the trip for nearly five months with many contributing factors stopping us, but today we cracked and made the trip. 

We left at 2am and despite a detour off the M6, we arrived around 6am. We climbed the bridleway, walked through the metal gate, and headed around the edge of the field to the viewing area. We were the only birders present at this time. I had just set the scope up when we heard the distinctive call of the Belted Kingfisher. A quick scan and Brian found it perched in a tree bordering the river. We enjoyed fantastic views of the bird as it began fishing and returning to riverside branches. We also heard it calling several times. 

We left and headed back to the car, but before leaving we scanned the river from Roach Bridge and found pairs of Dipper and Grey Wagtail.

River Darwen from Roach Bridge

We drove the eighteen miles towards Banks Marsh, hoping to connect with a Snow Goose, not really having or knowing the exact location we needed. We took a chance and parked at Old Hollow Farm and walked up the bank to view the marshes. Within seconds I had spotted the Snow Goose. We were thinking we might get a very distant view of a white dot among the many thousands of Pink-footed Geese but we were viewing the bird at relatively close range. We also enjoyed views of a Todd's Canada Goose after meeting and getting directions from the original finder of both birds further along the grass bank.

Snow Goose

At the metal gates before the car park, we watched Tree Sparrows collecting nesting material and heading for nearby nest boxes. Brian walked the grass bank eastwards looking for Twite and spotted a Merlin perched on a post. As we joined him to view the Merlin the twite flock was found and they took flight when the Merlin came hurtling through them. The flock headed back towards the entrance gates and we followed them.


Thursday 24 March 2022

Little Owl, Wanstead

The improvements in weather conditions recently tempted us to go looking for Little owls at Wanstead Flats today. We only had an hour to search for them, so we began in an area where we had seen them on previous visits. As we entered the small copse I managed to spot a single bird perched in the fork of a tree high up.

Having spotted the Little Owl so quickly allowed us time to go searching for Wheatear, on the walk around the Skylark fenced-off area we bumped into Marco, who took us to the area he had seen Wheatear in a short time before. A quick scan of the area and the wheatear was soon found. 


Tuesday 22 March 2022

White-tailed Plover, Frampton Marsh

We arrived at Frampton Marsh around 7.30am and shortly after leaving the car park we met another birder who informed us he had seen the White-tailed Plover on North Scrape and it was showing well from East Hide. As this was our main target for the day we headed straight round to East Hide. Upon entering the hide the plover was indeed showing well, busily feeding among the mud and reeds. It was much closer than I was expecting it to be. 

We had seen this same bird at Blacktoft Sands in Yorkshire back in November last year, but at a much greater distance than today. After leaving the hide we scanned the South Scrape and managed to find three Little Stints and two Little Ringed Plovers, both additions to the year list.

We walked the sea wall back towards the main track and found a single Whimbrel out on the saltmarsh and Spotted Redshank and a drake Garganey on the pools of Marsh Farm grasslands.

A very enjoyable few hours, with stunning views of the White-tailed Plover and we managed six new additions to the year list.