Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bee-eaters on IOW

Saturday 2nd August 2014
A trip over to the Isle of White with Dave and Paul.
I picked Dave up at Watford Junction at 07:00 and then we met up with Paul at Maple Lodge. The roads were a bit quieter than I expected and we made good time on our journey down to Portsmouth to catch the 09:30 ferry. After a smooth but birdless crossing of the Solent we arrived at Fishbourne and headed straight for Niton and the NT Wydcombe House. On arrival at the joint National Trust/RSPB watch point we parked up and were soon viewing 2 Bee-eater. They were on telephone wires and not great views. They then re-located to a dead tree and began hunting. We were watching these exotic looking birds as they hunted and then perched in their favourite dead tree. We noticed that there were 3 birds and then Dave picked out another, so 4 Bee-eater in total. The highest number reported from this site prior to yesterday was 3 and for the last few days only 2 birds had been seen. I tweeted RBN with the news of 4 birds and Dave phoned the pager. It then started to rain so we went off to Tesco Express for refreshments. The rain had stopped so we went back for a second helping of Bee-eater. This time we struck lucky as a single Bee-eater was perched up in a dead tree fairly close to the entrance. We enjoyed some good views before it flew off and disappeared from sight. We hung around for a bit longer but no further sign of the birds sow headed back to Fishbourne for the 2 o'clock ferry.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A two Prat Day

Saturday 26th July 2014.
A days birding in East Anglia with Paul. We were both keen to see the Black-winged Pratincole that had been reported at Ouse Washes, however, as reports were a bit sketchy (to us anyway) we decided to head off to Minsmere and wait for news. Paul had seen the Collared Pratincole at Minsmere the previous week but was happy to go again. A decent enough drive to Minsmere considering the busiest weekend of traffic for the year. Lots of people already on site when we arrived so we wasted little time in heading for the East Hide. On route we paused briefly to look at the Sand Martin bank and it was nice to see numerous juveniles peering out of the nestholes. Bearded Tits were "pinging" from the reedbeds but we carried on to the hide. The hide was really busy but we found a couple of spaces on the upper deck. We immediately connected with the Collared Pratincole roosting on the scrape. An abundance of other waders were to be seen here and although we didn't go through them with a fine toothcomb we did manage; Lapwing, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Little-ringed Plover. Common and Sandwich Tern, c50 Little Gull. The hide was getting really busy so we decided to head roughly in the direction of Ouse Washes but with a stop at Cavenham Pits. On our walk back to the car park we had nice views of Bearded Tit. On arrival at Cavenham we first went to the heath where we enjoyed some good views of Stone Curlew although heat haze was a bit of a pain. We were about to head for the pits to look for the Black-winged Stilts but news broke that the Black-winged Pratincole had been seen at Ouse Washes. So we hurried back to the car and headed off to Ouse Washes. Paul was behind the wheel (again!) so this made for a bumpy ride, especially on some of the Brecks/Cambs roads. On arrival we parked up and made the loooooong walk to where the Black-winged Pratincole had been seen. On route several birders walking back said it was showing well. After what seemed an eternity we joined 3 other birders and straight away connected with the Black-winged Pratincole as it roosted on a scrape not too far away, however, the first views were not great as it was in amongst a few Black-headed Gulls. Then a Lapwing turned up and unsettled it slightly so it moved a few yards and offering better views. Then a while later everything on the scrape got up, perhaps spooked by a Marsh Harrier that was in the area? This was in fact quite handy because the Black-winged Pratincole flew around offering really nice flight views, sometimes flying right over our heads. We admired the bird in flight for quite some time and then decided to head for home. 2 Pratincoles in one day! First two pics Collared Pratincole at Minsmere then last few Black-winged Pratincole at Ouse Washes.

Woodoaks Farm and Stockers Lake 18th July 2014

Woodoaks Farm nr Rickmansworth and Stockers Lake July 18th 2014.
At Woodoaks Farm; Red Kite and juv Little Owl.
Stockers; Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue Damselfly.

Aldbury Nowers to Pitstone Hill 17th July 2014

Pitstone Hill via Aldbury Nowers July 17th 2014.
I parked near Aldbury Nowers and followed the Ridgeway to Pitstone Hill. At Aldbury Nowers lots of Marbled White's and Peacock Butterflies. Along the Ridgeway; Jay, Red Kite, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit. After a bit of a hike I reached Pitstone Hill and managed photo's of Chalkhill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary. Bird wise a couple of Red Kites, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Corn Bunting.

Carlton Marshes and Abberton Res 13 July 2014

A trip first to Carlton Marshes and then later Abberton Reservoir, with Paul, Samuel and Ephraim.
At Carlton Marshes 5 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, Med Gull. Also of note here numerous Norfolk Hawker.
Abberton Reservoir; Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Yellow Wagtail.

Stockers Lake and Farm 9th July 2014

Time to catch up with some of my blogging.
9th July 2014.
A walk around Stockers Lake and Farm.
This short account all from memory so probably missed out quite a bit as it was a while ago.
At Stockers Farm; lots of Swallows including lots of juveniles, Ring-necked Parakeet, Kestrel, House Sparrows with young. Lock keepers cottage, House Martin. Around Stockers and Bury; Red-eared Terrapin, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Tern including juveniles, Black-headed Gulls including juveniles, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Great-crested Grebe with young. Some pics of usual standard below.