Monday, 4 May 2015

Bank Holiday Weekend

Another wonderful week as the cough, cold and throat problem decided to come back, and to cap it all the trees are in flower so hay fever kicked in the same time. Still by the end of the week things were starting to improve so Colin and I decided to go to Norfolk on Saturday.
The drive up was uneventful and by nine o clock we had arrived at the barns at Chosely. Not unexpectedly, there were a few cars parked as Dotterels have been present in varying numbers for over a week now. They were frequenting the field north of the track running east, but were very distant and I never managed to get a decent image, though a movie clip was reasonable. We saw eight birds, mostly bright females with a couple of drab males. Not much else in the area apart from Yellowhammers and a Pied Wagtail. Bumped into Tony Hukin on the way back.
Titchwell was next. After a chat in the centre we went up past the Fen Hide where a Grasshopper Warbler was singing. This proved to be very elusive and the song was very faint and much further back from the trail than expected-it was supposed to be in a Sallow viewable from the blinds overlooking the pool. The Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge was a bit easier, and it was not hard to miss the Red Crested Pochards on the pool. Being a bit closer to the nest sites, the Marsh harriers put on a good show. So four decent year ticks in the first hour was a good start.
The walk up to the sea was rather quiet. The easterly wind was rather nasty, and kept the temperature down. A flyover Spoonbill was a nice bonus, dropping into one of the channels on Thornham Marsh, and another was on the fresh marsh. Not much else was though. Very few waders apart from a few Black Tailed Godwits, a couple of Redshank, a single Little Ringed Plover and lots of Avocets. A few Common Terns were among the gulls and the usual wildfowl were loafing around. About the only other good birds were a few Swift, fresh in.
The sea was absolutely dire, where we bumped into Tony again. The tide was out, the shore was full of gulls-no waders at all, and a sea watch produced one Sandwich Tern, and a possible Little tern a long way out. Getting rather fed up with the wind we made our way back to the Parrinder Hide where we failed to see any Med Gulls-Tony did see one briefly. One or two Black headed Gulls caused some discussion having retained last years juvenile/1w plumage.
The regular  Chinese Water Deer appeared on Thornahm on the way back, looking rather tatty as it was moulting. A Whinchat seen earlier in the day failed to show for us so we headed back to the car for lunch

 Holme had a few reported migrants so we went there next. More Lesser Whitethroats in the scrub by the NOA car park, but no Grasshoppers. A nice surprise in the first NWT hide were some Barnacle Geese. Presumed feral, but some winter birds do pass through. A Whinchat in the filed behind was a bonus.

 Had a flyover Yellow Wagtail, a rather distant female Wheatear and a couple of Marsh Harriers. A walk along the dunes up to the forestry failed to produce the hoped for Ring Ouzel, but we did see a Whimbrel where it was supposed to be. Seems to have been a lot of work in the dunes, with some clearance and a lot of new pools excavated-presumably for Natterjack Toads which we failed to see.
 While it was not a bad day as such, with a few nice birds, the weather and the lack of migrants meant we called it a day and headed off home calling in at Paxton for an hour. Seem to be a lot of Willow Warblers singing at the moment, more than I have heard elsewhere, and a pair of Garden Warblers showed quite well although briefly. Not a great deal else seen, with only a few hirundines and terns on the main Heron lake. We stopped at the usual Stake out by the Kingfisher Hide and waited for a bit. After about five minutes the Nightingale started singing, right by the track but quickly moved along the ground and into some dense Sallows where it proved hard to see. I over round to the path and picked it up, though even so it was hard. Called Colin over but it decided to shut up, and then dropped down to the ground to feed where we managed to get some pretty good views at last.

 Sunday was rather cool at times, with heavy rain early and late. Sarah and Ed came over so I stayed in. Eight Black Terns were in the Lea Valley first thing, at Amwell, Rye Meads and then moved off to Nazing where a few managed to connect.

This morning was nice and sunny to start with and was very warm. As the Hollycross trail is now open i went down to Amwell. About the only new birds for me here were a big flock of Swifts. One Little Ringed Plover and a few Redshank were present. Seemed to be several garden Warblers singing, along with a few Whitethroat. After a while I walked down to Hollycross eventually meeting up with William. Nice to see reasonable numbers of butterflies after a rather cold April. Orange Tips were frequent, as were Small Tortoiseshells, with a few Peacock, Large Small and Green Veined Whites. No damsel or dragonflies unfortunately, despite the warm temperatures. Spent some time with William hunting for bugs, beetles etc but we did not see muck. A stake out for a diving beetle was not successful but we did find a lot of Caddis Fly larvae moving around in the ditch.
A nice bonus, but presumably an escape from the adjacent garden were several fine clumps of Monkshood-will have to keep an eye on the seed heads when they develop.

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