Tuesday 28 May 2013

A glorious weekend and 2 British ticks

We planned to go to the caravan at Chichester this weekend as we had tickets for 'The Pyjama Game'. Before that, on Friday, I went with David to see the red-rumped swallow at Beddington. I've never seen one in UK so it was an easy tick.
Red-rumped swallow
I haven't been trying very hard recently to build up my British list, preferring to spend my time abroad seeing and photographing new birds. Don't worry, my blog about Nepal is nearly ready!!

On Saturday, news came through of another nice bird, a European roller at Broxheath Common, which was only 36 miles from where I was. A quick trip there after breakfast found me looking at a lovely roller that was showing well, if a little distant. I had gone with a few others from the car park around 3 sides of a square instead of straight there and I had left my tripod in the car! This is the best at that distance with no tripod.
European roller

I didn't stay very long as I wanted to get back in time for the theatre. We were having dinner at the theatre before the show. 'The Pyjama Game' was most enjoyable.

David had told me he was going for the terek sandpiper at Rye. As the others don't usually get up until late, I decided to leave early the following morning, Sunday. Despite being almost the first one at Rye, there was no sign of the sandpiper after two and a half hours. Apart from the multitude of nesting black-headed gulls, Mediterranean gulls, common and sandwich terns, etc. there were two temminck's stints on a pool nearby. Three cuckoos were calling.
Temminck's stint

Little ringed plover


After our return to Sutton I picked David up to go to Lakenheath Fen, he for the Savi's warbler and I for the red-footed falcon. David got lucky but I dipped the falcon!

Nevertheless, the trip was worth it if only for the first thing we saw, a gorgeous male cuckoo hunting caterpillars in the enclosure near to us. It was the closest I had been to a cuckoo and it allowed good views.
Cuckoo - male

We moved on, scanning the reedbeds for the falcon but seeing only a few hobbies and myriad common swifts. I stopped to take pictures of the swifts and we then moved on slowly towards where the Savi's warbler had taken up residence. It is a bird that likes to sing at dusk so we were in no hurry. A gadwall had an aerial tiff with a hobby overhead.
Gadwall and hobby (below)
Common whitethroat

I lingered, ever hopeful of seeing the falcon while David went on. I got a text that the warbler was singing so I joined the throng of perhaps 45-50 people staking it out. The wind kept it down but, as the evening wore on, we glimpsed it first and then it showed several times, albeit not for too long. Even so, it gave far better views than the one I saw fleetingly at Lee Valley a few years ago. I was able to take a photo and film it briefly.

Savi's warbler
David stayed for more views and I went back for the falcon, taking pictures of several hobbies that were now joining the swifts hawking over the main reedbeds.
Hobby snacking on the wing!

Common swift
Finally, the cuckoo was still there when we made our way back to the carpark.

Monday 6 May 2013

Common birds at Warnham in the sun. Lovely!

As the bank holiday was to be sunny, Lynne and I went to Warham Local Nature Reserve for a walk and so Lynne could try out her new camera. We did the circuit of the lake, the woods, the reedbed and we spent a good deal of time at the Woodpecker hide where the staff had obviously put out a feast of birdseed for the holiday! This attracted not only the common garden type birds but also one or two others.

Around the lake we saw herons at the nest with young high in a tree (quite far for photos), coots, mallard, pheasant and a mute swan that was chasing everything that moved!

Heron with 2 young
Heron takes flight

Don't cross this mute swan!

Coot clapping wings.
Mallard not quite sleeping.

Pheasant cock
All the common birds came to the feeding station. Was it bad of me to hope that the sparrowhawk would come down and take one of the chaffinches? It didn't happen.

Blackbird with juicy grub

Chaffinch - female behind



Great spotted woodpecker

Great tit


Long-tailed tit

Magpie on the prowl.
Wood pigeon. Don't you just love them!
 There were also a few characters who do not normally go to feeding stations, such as:

Reed bunting - female.

Reed bunting - male
 The most surprising bird to appear was a Mandarin duck drake in a tree! Later he too came down to feed.
Mandarin duck - male

Mandarin duck - male

Sunday 5 May 2013

Elmley in a late start to Spring

Elmley, on the Isle of Sheppey, can be a marvellous place. Usually the drive from the road to the car park takes me 1-2 hours depending on what is there. Yesterday afternoon, it didn't take me so long, as I didn't see much on the way in. I walked down to the first hide. Almost immediately I saw, distantly, the Bonaparte's gull which promptly moved further away after a few short hops into the air.

A mute swan was nesting near the track.

Mute swan - female.

There were plenty of ducks, waders and marsh birds. The avocets were busy mating!
The marsh harriers terrorised the whole marsh!! Some turnstones walked around the edge.
A female wigeon passed by with a large wound on the side of her head. Wonder what happened to her?
Widgeon - Female - with head injury!
There were quite a few pochards, especially lone females.

Pochard - female
Two common terns circled the Wellmarsh Hide. My first terns for this year. A male pheasant passed very near the path.

A gorgeous male pheasant
I started back to the carpark. I was the last to leave. I had nearly reached the exit when an oystercatcher came very close.


Shortly after that I passed a pair of red-legged partridges literally on the side of the road. I stopped and reversed but they had already gone further away. Anyway, this shot is handheld in poor light just before sunset.

Red-legged partridge