Saturday, 15 May 2010

Prat-trick

After feeling shitty last weekend, it was a relief to get out and about this weekend. A phonecall from a friend who had twitched the Oriental Pratincole straight after a flight in from Oz inspired me to leave the county and make the trip to Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincs. Simple enough drive, under 2 hours.
Staff in the visitor centre put me onto a male Gargany, as usual looking like an odd bar of chocolate. I took in the reserve...and what a reserve it is. Reminded me of both Boyton Marshes in Suffolk and Titchwell. On hitting the reserve trail, I was surrounded by birds- Avocet, Lapwing, Redshank, Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail......and, distantly, an Oriental Pratincole. Happy but far from satisfied, I walked round to the east hide where the bird was apparantly showing down to 10 metres. On route, I watched a tiny wader land and despite poor views on the ground it was confirmed by an 'expert' as a Temmincks Stint. Feeling increasingly smug, I rounded the corner and true to form, the Pratincole was fly-chasing right in front of the small crowd. Now, the red underwing could be appreciated. I could actually make out the nostrils; although slit or semi circle I wasn't sure! Still stunned, I watched the bird for a while, wondering how a bird can appear so exotic yet so at home.
Wallking back produced more of the same, including better views of the Temmincks which was by now feeding near some Little Gulls, 2 I think, with blush pink breasts. A look in the 360 hide did not produce the expected X-Box, but instead I managed to locate a Wood Sandpiper, much to the delight of the frothing masses inside the hide. Heading car-ward, I was thinking it was about time I recognised someone, and lo and behold along came fellow bloggers James and Gary. Imagine you had good views lads. Cracking day, looking forward to my next visit here, whenever that may be.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Waxham pipe dump- glamour birding.

After Saturday's Bluethroat 'experience', a trip to the east coast would help ground me more firmly in reality, but of course with the chance of something a bit special.
The strong northerly winds may have made for some good sea watching, but without shelter this I decided would be futile. Bush bashing it was to be.
Happisburgh coast watch was absolutely dead, apart from the carpet bowls competition. Easy.......
Sea Palling was a little quiet, the winds clearly having an effect on the smaller birds which had probably taken to hunkering down in the scrub.
Waxham proved more fruitful. At the Shangri La cottage, a Sparrowhawk upset a Willow Warbler and the resident Chaffinches. A walk to the pipe dump produced little on route except for a singing Cettis, but the chicken field held 13 Whimbrel and a single Bar-Tailed Godwit. Couldn't help but notice that had been missed as per RBA........ Nice. 2 Stonechat were present and the local Skylark were now attempting to sing over the blowing gale. 4 Greenfinch flew south and 2 Linnet were startled in the dunes.
Girlfriend went ON HER OWN to Strumpshaw. I'm so proud. She saw the Little Gull from the Fen Hide, and some Terns are back. Good birding!

Lakenheath and Welney, 02/05/10

A visit to a friend's at Methwold provided the ideal opportunity to spend the morning at Lakenheath and the afternoon at Welney.
The RSPB reserve was alive with song, Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler were all seen in good numbers by the train track. My first Cuckoo of the year was heard, but not seen. Stock Dove and the squeal of Swifts added to the cacophony of sound. A single male Golden Oriole was present on site, but not seen by me. It has been too long since I have laid eyes on one.
At the Joist fen watchpoint, the sight of 30+ Hobbies greeted us, probably the most I have ever seen in one spot. What a sight, what a reserve. Orange Tip Butterflies accompanied me on my walk back to the carpark.
The afternoon was spent at Welney, my obvious target bird being the White-Spotted Bluethroat, now present for just over a week. £6.90 entrance fee; I would like to know how this can be justified, considering the cheaper entrance fee to NWT and RSPB reserves. However, from near the Lyle hide, Sedge and Reed Warblers teased the small crowd, but finally a flash of red as the bird dashed into the reeds. A patient wait and I was rewarded with amazing views, down to 5 metres. The bird sang and displayed, fanning its tail whenever another warbler got a little too close. Bit of a moment for me I'll admit, still not quite over it yet. What a bird. And what a setting- taking a minute to look up, Lapwings and Avocets were displaying, 2 or more Yellow Wagtails flew past and a Barn Owl hunted the dyke adjacent to the footpath. Again, what a reserve. What a county! Any thoughts of a steep entrance fee were now a distant concern.
From the carpark, Corn Bunting sang and the Barn Owl was now on a post, allowing close views from the car as I drove home.