Sunday, 4 September 2016

Swampy Returns

The Minsmere trip last month for the Purple Swamphen was a bit frustrating when it appeared to have done the traditional Friday night bunk. We all hoped that it would still be in the reed beds somewhere in the area but it was not to be. I was only talking to Bill about it last weekend at Amwell last week never expecting that it would be re-found a long way to the north in Lincolnshire.
News broke while I was at work that what was proved to be the same bird had been found on the south shores of the Humber at Alkborough in Lincolnshire, not all that far from Blacktoft Sands. It seemed to be elusive (surprise) and mobile but the big question was whether it would stick around for us that had to work.
Colin arrived yesterday at 6am and we hit the road, arriving a little under three hours later. Parked up on the verge by the car park and headed so we though for the hide north of the sewage works. Luckily we were told that it was visible from the livery stables only a few minutes away. Big problem was a distinct lack of viewing positions and it was along way away-some 850m as I found out later. Met up with a couple of guys we used to see regularly back in the 90's who had come down from Cheshire. Cant remember the last time we saw them so it was great to see them again.
I found a position up on the wooded bank outside the livery gate which gave me a very small viewing window through the hedge, but a clear view of the pool in question. While waiting picked up a Greenshank, loads of Redshanks, at leat eight Spoonbills and a couple of juvenile Bearded Tits. Hirundines were constantly passing through the scope view, Sand Martins and Swallows adults and juveniles, with a few House Martins as well. The Swamphen showed several times while we were there, usually coming out of the reeds feeding for a bit and vanishing back after a minute or so. Despite the distance the views were surprisingly good.
I took several video clips through the scope with the iPhone in 4k format, but had to crop severely to reduce the file size and because it was just a small speck in the original files.

Not sure how these will turn out, they were processed in iMovie and uploaded to Youtube. Last time I tried to do it the files were rather compressed. Might be best to view in Youtube.

In the afternoon we called in at RSPB Framton Marsh for an hour or so. Rain had arrived so we spent most of the time in the two nearest hides. Its turning out to be a very good spot for waders, and recently had over 200 Curlew Sandpipers pass through. We didn't see that many, it was in fact very quiet but there were at least a dozen present. There were also a few Little Stints as expected, plus a few Godwits, Ringed Plovers and a Sanderling. While scanning the docks from one of the hides, which were full of Linnets I was pleasantly surprised to see a Whinchat drop down for a few seconds.
Like Alkborough hirundines were feeding over the water and reeds in large numbers. This time it was mainly House and Sand Martins. One juvenile Sedge Warbler was seen briefly but perhaps because of the rain it was rather quiet as far as small birds went.

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