Monday 25 March 2024

Stone Curlews and Garganey in the Brecks

Today we had a free morning to go birding, so we headed north to Cavenham Heath in Suffolk. The first Stone Curlew was spotted as soon as we scanned the heathland. We eventually managed to find five individuals. Five Wheatears were also present as well as several Stonechats. A flock of Linnets contained a single Lesser Redpoll and Skylarks were displaying overhead. Red Kite, Buzzard, and Kestrel were the only raptors seen.

Start of one of the trails

We headed further north to Lakenheath, where we scanned Hockwold Washes and eventually found two drakes and a female Garganey. We walked along the top footpath and scanned the area adjacent to East Wood for any sign of Water Pipits. None were found but we did find another three Garganey asleep among the tall grass at the back of the washland. Surprisingly it was another two drakes and a female! At first, we thought it might have been the three from Hockwold Washes, but another birder came along and confirmed those three were still present and that he had been viewing them a minute ago. We returned to the viewing area and found a bird tour group still viewing the three on Hockwold. 

Six Garganey is our highest count at one site

Hockwold Washes

Garganey (2 drakes and a female)

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Ring Ouzel, KGV Reservoir

Brian and Dad had different commitments today, so a trip to the KGV Reservoir had to wait until late afternoon. A walk up the slope to the causeway soon produced several Wheatear. At least four males and a single female were found. I scanned the north basin and found the Slavonian Grebe that has been present since the 8th of December. As we scanned the reservoir two Sand Martin flew across the River Lea for another addition to the year list.

The main reason for the trip to the reservoir was for a reported Ring Ouzel, it was reported as on the path on the east side. Unfortunately, Thames Water had decided to cut the grass banks today and there had been no sign since. We met Simon W and John as they headed back towards the car park, as they were approaching the sailing club hut Simon refound the Ring Ouzel. A quick shout from Simon and we quickly joined him. The Ring Ouzel was busily feeding on the grass verges and along the fenceline of the reservoir.

This is my fourth Ring Ouzel seen at the reservoir, but my first since 2016.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Jack Snipe: Amwell NR, Hertfordshire

A planned trip to renew our reservoir permits had to be cancelled and rearranged because of problems with their printer.  So we filled the spare few hours with a trip to Amwell NR. As I stepped out of the car I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year, several more were heard on the walk to the viewpoint. A scan from the viewpoint didn't produce any new spring arrivals, so we headed along the footpath to James Hide. A Jack Snipe had been seen from the hide on the previous two days and we scanned the area hoping it was still present. A Common Snipe was feeding by a small pool in the middle of the cut reed track and after several scans with the scope I managed to locate the Jack Snipe. It was asleep among the reeds and well hidden.  

James Hide

View from James Hide

First view of Jack Snipe!

Still well hidden and asleep, but in the photo!

Eventually, it woke up

Saturday 9 March 2024

Lesser Yellowlegs, Frampton Marsh

An early morning visit to Frampton Marsh today. We pulled into the car park and spotted the Lesser Yellowlegs immediately. It was feeding along the muddy edges close to the car park fence. A large herd of Whooper Swans was resting on the water in the northwest corner. We were still in the car park when they flew directly overhead toward their favoured feeding areas in the nearby fields. There were large numbers of Pintail, Wigeon, and Teal on the water known as the reservoir.

We wandered along the track, and while checking out a small wader on the Marsh Farm Grassland, Brian found the Green-winged Teal nearby. Golden Plovers and lapwings were present in large numbers, along with lesser counts of Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, and Oystercatchers.

Scanning the North Scrapes from the sea wall, we failed to find any Little Gulls from the previous day, but several Med Gulls were present, along with good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits. Before heading for home, we had managed to see a total of 76 species. 

Frampton Marsh visitor centre and cafe

Feeding area of the Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Green-winged Teal

Whooper Swans

Saturday 2 March 2024

Great Grey Shrike: Weeting Norfolk

We had made plans to visit Weeting on the 28th Febuary, however these plans had to be changed at the last minute. Today was our first chance since then to visit, the weather forecast was not looking good, in fact it was looking pretty grim, with heavy rain showers predicted. We put the rain gear on, but were greeted with sunshine upon arrival! 

We parked by ride 47 and followed the track to the clearfell. It took several scans of the area before eventually finding the shrike. I had brief views of it in flight, then enjoyed much better views when it  perched at the top of a tall tree stump. It was quite active, visiting many of the trees and bushes within the clearfell.

Up until this point we had escaped without any rain but as we headed back up the track the gathering clouds turned from grey to black and duly delivered the predicted heavy rain.

The track from ride 47 to the clearfell