Monday, 27 August 2012

Part 2 The good bit-Ouse washes

The weather looked good for Sunday and we spent the day in the cambridge Fens. Started off dull but warmed up as the day progressed.
Started off near St Neots where there had been a report of a Lesser Emperor a few days previously. The small reserve, adjacent to a new housing development looked ok, though it seemed more attractive to dog walkers. The small stream adjacent to the river Ouse held a few Banded Demoiselles and Common Darter. Walking back along the Ouse we found some migrant Hawkers but there was no sign of the Emperor.
Small flock of hirundines over the marina consisted of House and Sand Martins with a few Swallows.
A search of the Haddenham area for the elusive American Golden Plover proved fruitless, as we did not see any plovers. As it turned out, no one saw the bird all day.
Arrived at the RSPB Ouse Washes just before noon and headed for the Kingfisher Hide. A quick scan produced some Garganey among the Mallards and Gadwall. Some Wigeon were present too. having not seen any Garganey at all this year it seemed a bit strange when a thorough search produced a count of well over 30-birds seemed to be in every scope view.
Waders were a bit scarce-the floods earlier having had a big impact. In fact we only saw a couple of Black Tailed Godwits. Ruff numbers seemed a bit more respectable, and included a few juvenile birds. Some Dunlin were present and there were about 20 Greenshank-another species we had not yet seen.
The Grose Hide was popular largely because of the Glossy Ibis. It was sort of on view, feeding in a hollow in front of the hide. It spent a lot of time feeding on some Iris roots before being flushed and flying a bit closer where it gave excellent views.
For a while, when  juvenile Little Egret was nearby it had a habit of stretching one wing-not sure what that was about.

 While in Letchworth, I popped into David's Bookshop and among several second hand purchases was a copy of The Twitchers Diary, Richard Millingtons story of his epic 1980 year list. His Little Egret, then a major rarity took several visits to eventually connect (we saw around 40 from this hide alone), and his Glossy Ibis sighting was the resident Stodmarsh two, but otherwise a very rare vagrant. I missed those, and it was a long time before I ever saw one, yet we now expect small numbers all year round and some of us are expecting birds to breed soon.

Called in at Deadmans Hill on the way back. A Montagues Harrier had flown through early afternoon, Alan Reynolds had flushed some Quail and there were Winchat and Stonechat present. Met up with Tony Hulkin who had missed the Harrier and Quail earlier, but apart from the usual Kites and Buzzards did not see anything of note.

Returned to Deadmans Hill this morning, and Tony was there again. Rather windy. Walked round the field with him, locating 4-5 Winchat and 1-2 Stonechat. The birds wer feeding on top of the wheat stalks in the middle of the fields and remained elusive. Also had some Yellowhammer, Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler. Joined by a number of others, but by 1100 the rain arrived.

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