Sunday, 5 April 2009

Minsmere and the Brecks

Yesterday Colin and I spent the day in Suffolk, starting off at Minsmere for several hours and re-visiting some of the Breckland sites we had been to last month.
Minsmere really started off well, with a Bittern booming as soon as we got out of the car-at least two appeared to be calling from the vast reed  beds. Things got better moments later in the woods as I was distracted by a high pitched song and found a superb Firecrest. Associating with it were a pair of Marsh tit and several Treecreepers.
On the way down to the sluice, we stopped off at the west hide to scan for gull,s, waders etc. A first winter Glaucous Gull had been present for a long time, and had been seen earlier in the morning, but we could not find it. I did locate what I think was a very good candidate fro a Caspian Gull, and that seemed to be the consensus in the hide.
A long walk up the public footpath along the southern levels produced a large flock of feral Barnacle Geese, as well as our first Willow warbler and Greenshank of the year,a and a very nice Spotted Redshank moulting into breeding plumage. The Spoonbill we were looking for was eventually found from the sluice bushes but was very distant.
Our next stop was rather brief, at Cavenham Heath where a Great Grey Shrike was lingering. It did not take long to show on a distant fence. 
Into Thetford Forest itself, we first heard a calling Golden Pheasant, and got  a few rather brief views of Goshawk. I saw my first butterflies here today-several Brimstone, a Green Veined White and a Peacock.  A calling Buzzard in a stand of pines proved rather puzzling when it flew off-a rather pale bird, very lightly marked underneath and with a rufous tail. The suspicion is of a Red Tailed Hawk escapee/feral bird.
Despite the conditions, we failed again to hear or see any Woodlark, and we also failed to see any Hawfinch at our final destination of Lyndford Arboretum. With the trees coming into bud, we will have to wait until the end of the year to search here again.

Today, my regular visit to Amwell failed to live up to the expectations generated by the lovely spring weather.
There were up to five Buzzard in the air, five Redshank and a pair of Ringed Plover. Plenty of Chiffchaff singing, along with a one Blackcap and two or three Willow Warbler.
Another new butterfly for the year were two Commas.

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