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.

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