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.