Saturday, 28 March 2009

Old Haunts

As my sister was down from Inverness, I took her to Amwell this morning, as she used to live nearby. The weather was not ideal-northerly, cold and showers but she had a good time seeing a lot of species that are very uncommon for her these days-things like Wood Pigeon, Mute Swan and Magpie for example.
We saw a few Sand Martin go through battling the wind, with my first Swallow of the year shortly after. Plenty of Water rail squealing, and Cetti's Warblers calling from the reed beds. The Cormorants are nesting, as are the Grey Heron-did not see Little Egret unfortunately, and with several Chiffchaff's singing, and displaying Lapwing and Redshank, it almost felt like spring. 
We missed the big one though-twenty Waxwing had flown through while we were in one of the hides, and the site's first Little Ring Plover of the year had been seen as well.  

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Travelling again

After the hiatus last month, I finally got a chance to get out again.
The plan was to get over to Colin, and visit sites in Breckland/Thetford forest for some of the wintering and early spring birds that can be seen in early March.
First stop was RSPB Lakenheath where the wintering Great Grey Shrike had been showing from near the car park. Early signs were good and it had been seen an hour before we arrived. We spent an hour in the cold wind checking the young birch wood and scrub, plus adjacent areas to no avail. A party of Lesser Redpolls was nice to see.
Lyndford Arboretum is a good spot for Hawfinch in winter and three had been seen early morning, but by the time we got there they had gone from the paddocks where they roost. A search of the arboretum failed to find them. Apart from flocks of Siskin it was pretty quiet. Ther has been a lot of work done over the last year to improve the quality of the trees and shrubs (which had been in a pretty poor state for some time) and it was nice to wander round for a bit and just enjoy the woodland.
Next stop was Grimes Graves, a large open space in Thetford Forest which ought to be good for displaying raptors, and Goshawk had been seen earlier in the week. Though it was sunny, the wind was getting stronger and all we had for our efforts were a couple of Buzzards and Kestrels, and Skylarks everywhere. Finally, Olley's Farm just west of Theford itself has a recent track record of reliable Goshak sightings, but by early afternoon, the wind and increasing cloud meant that few raptors ventured up-one Buzzard and one Sparrowhawk. The Woodlarks were silent, but we were treated to a small party of Crossbills, two of which lingered long enough to get a few images.
Just as we got back to the car, and moments before the rain arrived we were finally treated to a spectacular bird of prey-a totally unexpected Red Kite.