Saturday, 27 April 2013

Paxton, Weeting and Therfield

I was expecting to have to go to Spurn today for the Rock Thrush as Colin needs it. However, being a scaly brown female rather than a nice red and blue male he decided it was not worth it-getting very picky on lifers these days. We decided therefor to do the usual April circuit starting at Little Paxton and visit other sites depending on the weather and what gets reported. Good job too as the Rock Thrush had gone overnight.
We arrived at Little Paxton just after nine and found it to be rather chilly, and with intermittent light rain-still it was better than last year.
The first Nightingale was heard in the area adjacent to the car park, but proved to be invisible, as was the next couple of birds. However we managed to see number four in a small hawthorn but it never showed well for the camera. What was odd was it suddenly flew out and parachuted to the ground where it started to sing again. Never seen one do that, but Colin saw bird number seven do it too.  Presumably they were finding food on or near the ground.
We heard a lot of Willow Warblers, two or three Lesser Whitethroats and a fair number of Chiffchaff and Whitethroats. Common Terns were in, but we arrived too late for three Arctics. Additionally at least two Reed Warblers were singing along the river adjacent to the pits at Diddington.

Our next stop was in Norfolk at Barton Bendish for the Woodchat Shrike. It was very elusive and difficult to locate as it spent most of the time deep in a hedge but on a couple of occasions came out and perched but a long way off. Colin managed to get down to the other end of the hedge and got reasonably close but it eventually flew off onto wires where although very distant at least gave good views in the scope.
We then went on to Weeting Heath where we encountered more rain and it got very chilly. We went to the west hide and soon picked up the Stone Curlew on the nest. It seemed to be a problem for the others in the hide but eventually they all got on it. Somehow despite being there for some time none of them spotted the bird walking around to the right until I saw it. Incredibly it made its way closer and gave stunning views before heading back to the nest where the birds changed over. What was even more amazing was the second bird (male) did exactly the same. In 25 years i have never seen the birds here this close.

With it being so cold we decided to head home, but on reaching Royston I thought it might be worth calling in at Foxcote Wood just in case the Pasque Flowers would still be in flower on the hillside. Turned out they were almost at their peak, in fact according to a regular it was the best show in 40 years.

The only disappointing bit of the day was getting home to find that Alan Reynolds had sent me stunning images of the Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler at Amwell.

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