Wednesday 19 May 2010

Elusive red-rumped swallows. I hate 'em!

Two trips to Arlington Reservoir in East Sussex trying to see the red-rumped swallows led to nothing. The first time on Monday  I arrived too late in the day. The second time I got there at 0700 when the mist was down and it took an hour or so for the sun to burn it off. There was no red-rumped swallow but there were some ordinary (barn) swallows. This one was skimming the surface.


Some linnets also came by. This one was wary. I manged a single shot before it was off like a shot!


There was compensation for not seeing the red-rumped swallows in the form of a very obliging Temmincks stint. I followed it for a while. It was remarkably tame and did not scare easily. Lovely bird.

Temminck's stint

Thursday 13 May 2010

Wood sandpipers are handsome birds. Crossness Nature Reserve, London.

On Sunday I went to Crossness Nature Reserve in South East London where some wood sandpipers had been seen. At first it was difficult to know where they were. I am a member but I couldn't get into the reserve itself as my code for the gate didn't seem to work.

Then I met someone who showed me where they should be. We both scanned the flooded paddock but could see no wood sandpipers. The pager reported them at 0800 and it was now 0845! What?? I reported that there was no sign. A lady walking her dog also scanned the field with me but there was nothing to be seen. Then, a flock of 8 small waders flew overhead and away into the distance. They'd been there all the time!

I waited around taking pictures of a distant wheatear and black redstart. Then the wood sandpipers came back and, of course, went into the most remote and inaccessible corner of the field. We watched them through scopes for a while and people then dispersed. I decided to ask the owner of a nearby field if I could go into the far corner for a better view. He was friendly and said I could go wherever I wanted. I managed to approach without disturbing the birds and got to within 25m.

Wood sandpiper.

That was the high point of the day. I went home to join Lynne for lunch in a pub (Lynne was doing a charity walk) and then headed off to Arlington reservoir hoping to see red-rumped swallows. No such luck! They'd gawn!

A chiffchaff like any other (almost)

When is an ordinary chiffchaff not an ordinary chiffchaff? Well, when it's an Iberian chiffchaff, of course. Blowed if I could see much difference but there it was and I took it's picture. It's hard to get too excited about a chiffchaff but it is a new lifer and a year tick too. It was rather wet when I went so I borrowed Lynne's umbrella with the flashing LEDs to cheer up the birds. The poor chiffchaff looks quite bedraggled. It's a good job it was so obliging and came out to sing instead of hiding from the rain.

Iberian chiffchaff, Kent

After that, I went on to Dungeness RSPB and was lucky to see the purple heron briefly as it flew.