Saturday, 19 April 2014

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

The initial plan for today was to go out with Colin, and Kent was suggested earlier in the week, but with the winds being from the wrong direction it had gone a bit quiet. However I had another idea and arranged to meet him in Bishops Stortford near Twyford Mill where a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers had been showing quite well. Once upon a time they were pretty common, and I often saw them more frequently than the other woodpeckers in the Stevenage area but over the last 15 years they have declined dramatically over much of southern England and there are few reliable locations these days.
I got there just before 0930 and we walked the short distance to the river where we saw a couple of birders by the dead tree. Unfortunately we had just missed the male bird so had to wait a while. Several calling Nuthatches were a bit of a distraction and also confusion, but eventually the male reappeared briefly before heading down to it's favourite drumming post high in an oak. We were treated to some nice views for some time before it flew into it's partly constructed nest hole and proceeded to excavate, interspersed with the occasional call. It then flew out and started feeding on the tree for some time and eventually flew off to the drum post. Its been a long time since I have had good views of  Lesser Spotted, and they have rarely been this good.

After about an hour we walked down river to Thorley Wash. Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo have been reported here but we were unable to locate either. It was a nice walk though with a brief flyby Kingfisher and the whole area looked good from a botanical view.
I left Colin and had a 'delightful' drive through Harlow and arrived at Rye Meads at noon. After a brief coffee and bite to eat, listening to Whitethroat and what sounded very much like a Garden Warbler I headed straight for the Tern hide where the Garganey were showing from the access ramp. Both birds were rather obscured and although fairly easy to pick up there was not much to see.
Several Cetti's were rather vocal, and I also heard my first Lesser Whitethroat. One Shelduck and a couple of Lesser Black Backs were on the northern lagoon while the tern rafts on the southern were occupied by Black Headed Gulls.
Walked up to the Warbler Hide as Grasshopper Warblers had been heard earlier but they had shut up and there was little to see.
The Garganey were still showing poorly from the ramp as I returned, but I discovered that better views could be had from
the gate on the south side of the pool. The drake had a habit of staying partly hidden but the female flew out and on her return showed well for a brief period.
The Draper Hide was rather quiet. Work is still continuing on the Kingfisher bank and new hide so there is presumably still some disruption. Supposed to be a pair of Little Ring Plovers here.
Had a nice surprise when Royston Dave appeared. Had a quick chat about the Baikal Teal {still on the Ouse Washes unfortunately} and he gave me directions to the Ring Ousel at Therfield-as it is very long walk from any suitable pariking I wont be going for it.

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