Monday, 2 May 2016

Bank Holiday

Three days off and the weather is a lot better than expected, and I had two good days birding.

Saturday morning was spent at Amwell. The Hollycross dragonfly trail has opened and I was intending to have a walk around. With decent sunshine (when the cool breeze let off) there was a chance of a Large Red Damsel or maybe an early dragonfly. Not to mention butterflies. As it was I never left the viewpoint in the three hours I was there.
William was there with Julie who I hadn't seen for a very long time. A few Swifts were at the south end of the lake, along with a mixed hirundine flock. Three Redshanks and the Oystercatcher pair were present as was  Little Ringed Plover but that flew off towards Tumbling Bay. A bonus was the lingering Dunlin-two were present the previous night. William and Julie went of to search for warblers and I stayed along with Bill and Ade.
As expected we saw a few raptors, mainly Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, with one Red Kite and rather briefly, two Hobbies. The terns seem settled on the gravel banks-luckily the sluice has been fixed and the water levels are looking reasonable now, hence the Dunlin.
We saw a few butterflies, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White and I picked up a Green Veined White when I left. Despite it appearing rather quiet, I managed to see or hear 61 species-had I gone for a walk I could have added another 5-10.

Sunday looked very good from a weather point of view, but Colin and I decided not to go too far and settled on a trip to Paxton.
We stopped off at the Newnham Ashwell manure heap, finding a minimum of three Yellow Wagtails and at least four singing Corn Buntings. We then stopped at the manure heaps on the Ashwell Eyeworth road. The first Wagtail was Grey, the second White, then several Yellow Wagtails appeared followed by a pair of Pied Wagtails. Again there were a few Corn Buntings present.
When we got to Paxton, it was rather busy and parking was limited. Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were heard from the car park-neither played ball and eluded our cameras. The first Nightingale did at least show briefly but was too far away and the rest remained invisible in the dense  bushes. Only two Common Terns were seen, and there were no hirundines-perhaps the chilly breeze played a part. The walk round the top of Heron Lake did not produce much apart from a Comma and a rather odd very dark dusky Blue Tit. On the way back I noticed a rather nice, complete solar halo. Colin managed a photo with his 15mm lens, but I could only get a partial on my phone. It attracted interest from a number of others as well.
On the way to Fowler, we called in to the manure heaps again, meeting Aubrey and his mate. Dave unfortunately is out of action again (but in Cyprus so it can't be  too bad). At least two Wheatear were seen on the heap some way off the road along a track, along with several more Yellow Wagtails.
Fowler was rather disappointing in that we failed to see the Turtle Doves. It was a pleasant walk though, with Brimstones and Orange Tips everywhere. As its been many years since I last visited, there have been some changes in particular the large mere in front of the raised hide, but its essentially the same as it was on my first visit 30 years ago.
We ended the day at Therfield Heath and Fox covert. The singing Firecrest that has been here for a while could be heard as soon as we got out of the car. Colin managed to get a few shots, but I didn't. I left him and went onto the heath to check out the Pasque Flowers. It was rather windy and most of them were showing signs of going over-some already had seed heads forming. However I managed a few images with the 135mm Zeiss.
Photos will have to be added later as blogger doesn't seem to want to lead them at the moment.


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