Sunday, 4 November 2012

Desert Wheatear

Went over to Abberton with Colin yesterday for the long staying Desert Wheatear. I have not visited since they started work on raising the water levels and the causeways so it would be interesting to see how the work was going. The old visitors centre was a nice one, surrounded by mature scrub and trees so was always worth a visit. The new one is a few hundred yards south on the high peninsula and seems rather barren at the moment.
The Desert Wheatear was not hard to locate as it seems to think the car park is it's feeding territory, and was using every bollard, sign and tree sapling to perch on while hunting for food. Like many vagrant chats that i have seen, it seemed to enjoy feeding under the cars and was very confiding. More than one photographer had to put their big lenses away and use a shorter close focusing one.

 The biggest problem with photography was getting a decent background-the above images include Golf and Astra headlights in the background. I also have lots of car wheels, bumpers and number plates.
 We eventually left and went to Cudmore Grove. I have not been here for many years-its one of the places that Alan Reynolds enjoys visiting and often recommends it. The previous day a Shore Lark had been seen, as well as some White Fronted Geese, but both had gone. However a long search of the flood meadows was successful for a Jack Snipe hidden among it's Common brethren. Huge  numbers of Redshank, Black tailed Godwits Teal and Wigeon were also present. Among the dark bellied Brents was an unusual one reported as a light bellied. However it looked a bid odd to me and I dont think it was one.
Walked out to the point and located the Snow Bunting. More waders including lots of Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone. There was nothing at all on the sea.

 Before heading home we decided to try and locate the elusive Great Grey Shrike in the Birch area, supposedly seen on wires. We drove around for a bit, not seeing it or any other birders and following a pager message headed back to Abberton. Parked outside the pump house and met another birder. Moments later the Black Redstart appeared on the roof, unfortunately a bit too far away to get a good image. The local Kestrel proved to be a bit of a problem too.
 The birder had  just come from the shrike and gave us directions to where he had seen it. Unfortunately we could not find it, and meeting up with others it was clear that no one else was having much luck. A pigeon shoot earlier, and the wind presumably meant it was staying in cover so we left-it was reported about ninety minutes later in the area we had searched.

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