Saturday, 30 May 2009

Great Knot Dip.

We set off early this morning in order to catch up with the suspected Great Knot that was found at Breydon Water last night. Unfortunately it wasn't early enough; the bird was seen at 4:45am and flew off at 5am. This was my first big 'dip' but we made up for it by visting Britains's largest Little Tern colony containing nearly 400 birds! We also saw a Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel and two Stone Curlew on the way back. Steve also introduced me to the world of Butterflies to alleviate the boredom of waiting for the Knot to reappear. I can see me getting more and more interested in them...

The species photographed are: Wasp Beetle, Wall Brown, Hairy Hawker and Green-Veined White. The Wall Brown and Hairy Hawker dragonfly are apparently both fairly scarce.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Bird Hunt!

Despite the terrible weather forecast I decided to go on a bit of a bird hunt today. My targets were Golden Oriole and Montagu's Harrier. I got to Hockwold Fen (Lakenheath) just after 7am and someone helpfully directed me to a Oriole nest site. Once I got onto the nest I could just about see a tail poking out and after waiting a few minutes the tail turned into an Oriole as the female left the nest. She came and went several times and gave us brief but good views. We also heard the male calling frequently but just could get on to him. Just as I was about to leave the Bittern that had been "booming" away behind me appeared out of the reeds and flew 20m or so. As I was walking back to the car I caught a glimpse of two MALE Orioles chasing eachother through the trees. They really didn't look like they belonged in amongst a rainy grey backdrop of windswept Poplars!

Next stop was Norfolk and the Monty's. I'd been "tipped off" about a location that reportedly held several breeding pairs. As soon as I arrived at the site I caught a glimpse of a harrier quartering a field. Naturally I slammed the brakes on and got the bins on was a brilliant female Monty's! Unfortunately it was a little distant and incredibly dull and blustery, so taking pictures was tricky to say the least:

I decided to have a walk up to the top of Burnham Overy Staithe but the weather got progressively worse and I started to wish I hadn't! I was rewarded with nice views of two Little Terns on the way back though. My first of the year...
(Frustratingly just out of focus!)
Life list = 237

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Black-Winged Pratincole

As a sort of post exam treat I decided to twitch the Black-Winged Pratincole down at Stodmarsh NNR in Kent. Luckily Dan decided he could afford to take a few hours off revision to come and stop me getting another mega on him! I started the journey from Leics with an overnight pit stop in Beds and got to the reserve at about 7am. Dan had to come from Southampton and arrived shortly after.

As soon as I got out of the car I heard a Turtle Dove purring which was a nice addition to the year list. The sun was out and the reserve was absolutely buzzing with life and we soon heard the unmistakable booming of a Bittern. This was the first time Dan and I had ever heard it so we were really excited and as the morning progressed we heard several others along with loads of Cuckoos

The bird wasn't showing when we first got to the hide so we were in for a pretty tense wait. After about an hour though, a fellow bedsbirder managed to catch sight of the Pratincole's head poking out from behind a clump of mud. We managed to get the tick and tehn five minutes later the bird gave brilliant views out in the open. I think we both agree that its THE best looking bird we've seen! Despite it giving great views through the scope, it was just too far away for our SLRs so we tried a bit of dodgy digiscoping with my compact. Dan eventually managed to get the above record shot. We aslo saw our first Hobbies of the year. A great morning's birding...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Wood Warbler at Uni

Whilst pretending to write my essay and revise I did my half hourley check of Birdguides and saw that a Wood Warbler had been spotted in Victoria Park, Leics. This is the park right next to uni so I had to go and check it out. Got on to it more or less straight away in some willows next to the "lake" (or what some may call a stagnant, trolley filled pond). It was calling fairly regularly against a backdrop of sirens, rap music and traffic!

Anyway, a lovely bird to see in somewhere you definitely wouldn't expect to see it.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Big Twitch

After getting back from twitching the Lark I settled down on the sofa to recover. A few hours later and I got a call from Mark asking if I was up for twitching the Collared Flycatcher down on Portland in Dorset. This was a mega and a great looking bird, so obviously I couldn't say no! Jenny kindly drove us down there (along with two dogs and a baby!) and four short hours later we arrived. It didn't take long to get on to the bird and it gave good views on an apple tree in someones garden. In the rush to see the bird, I jumped out the car without my camera so didn't manage any pics. We were very lucky though as the bird disappeared soon after we got there and wasn't seen again untill 20:40! This was the first day in years that Mark had got two lifers in one day and the first time I've ever had two megas in the same day. In 24hrs we'd been to two bird observatories on two different stretches of coastline and driven over 600 miles. I was totally shattered by the end of it but I can tell that it'll be the first of many epic twitches.

We left the Bill as dusk fell and headed for Macdonalds with yet another mega under our belts!
(Thanks to Mark and Jenny for putting in so many tiring hours behind the wheel and to Blyth for being so well behaved!)