Monday, 27 September 2010

Pitsford, Eyebrook and Summer Leys

On Saturday the 25th we set out to go and have a look at Pitsford Reservoir to see if we could find any migrants, after paying for a permit we set out for the Nature Reserve and were promptly buzzed by a Spitfire and 3 trainer aircraft flying over our heads, in formation.

Our first wader was a single Dunlin amongst the Wigeon and Lapwing which abounded around the shores of the reservoir. Walking from the first hide to the Bird Club Hide we disturbed a sizeable flock of Tree Sparrows which proceeded to flit from shrub to shrub, stopping to groom themselves or feed on the fruits and seeds available.

There were quite large numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Great Crested Grebe and Black-headed Gulls, with smaller numbers of Gadwall, Shoveler, Little Grebe and Cormorants and a couple of Black-tailed Godwit.
We went to Eyebrook next but apart from wonderful views of Lapwing flying overhead, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and ducks galore there was no sign of anything special.
From there we went to the South Shore of Rutland Water to have lunch before making our way south again to Summer Leys.

There the highlights were a smart Greenshank on the scrape and Common Buzzards and Red Kites returning to their roosts.

Last weekend in Norfolk...

We joined the Bedford RSPB Group on a trip to the North Norfolk coast - starting at Cley. When we arrived it was overcast and raining lightly - so we decided hot chocolate & cake would buoy our spirits and see us through until we enjoyed a late lunch! A Marsh Harrier hunting over the marshes close to the visitor centre was our first raptor of the day, quickly followed by a Hobby flying over whilst refreshments were consumed. Along the East Bank we were treated to good views of Black-tailed Goodwit feeding on the marsh with Greylag and a large group of Egyptian Geese plus a single Ruff in the margins.

A seawatch produced Arctic Skua, Gannets, Merganser, Common and Sandwich Terns, Cormorants and an elusive seal.

There had been reports of a flock of Lapland Bunting in the area but we felt lucky to have found just one, which was skulking in the vegetation at the top of the dunes. When it was in full view it was a beautiful little bird but it did not stay still for long.

The North Hide produced the usual suspects - Teal, Cormorants, Gadwall along with a Little Stint close by. Another spell of seawatching before we walked back down the road to the visitor centre produced a trio of Common Scoter fairly close to the shore.

We then went west along the coast to Thornham Harbour where we found Spoonbill, Oystercatchers, various Gulls and waders feeding on the exposed mud of the estuary.

These were all seen as we walked to Holme NOA where a Barred Warbler had been seen earlier in the afternoon.

Unfortunately for us it was a 'no show' but Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Dunnock did their best to entertain us while we waited. The return walk produced Kingfisher and Pied Wagtail.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Fantastic Freiston!

On Saturday morning four of us set off for Lincolnshire not realising what lie ahead. We reached Frampton Marsh at lunchtime and found an interesting list of recent sightings on the Visitor Centre board but not a huge amount of life on the freshwater marshes. The best sighting was of a hunting Peregrine which swooped in low over the marsh, flying almost directly towards us as we watched from the 360 Hide. We travelled on to Freiston Shore to stay at the local B&B.
On Sunday morning, we watched in delight as large flocks of waders flew in to wait out the high tide on the freshwater pool. Possibly 1500 Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatchers by the hundred and numerous Dunlin, Redshank, Knot and a few Greenshank and Turnstone arrived at the pool and filled the air with their 'chattering' calls.
Large group of Black-tailed Godwit with Dunlin, Redshank and Knot

That was all before breakfast! We met up after breakfast with other members of Beds Bird Club to explore the Reserve. With all eyes on the birds we scanned the assembly on the pool finding Ringed Plover, Wigeon, Canada & Greylag Geese in addition to the birds already mentioned. A view across the water meadows revealed several Curlew, Yellow Wagtail, a flock of Starling and Barn Swallows hunting. A walk along to the bank gave us a view over the Wash. There were some juvenile Gannets flying close to the shore but not much else. As we sat there the waders on the pool started to lift off and fly over our heads which was an amazing sight but the water was still too high for them, especially the smaller birds, to settle on the shore.
The Group Leader went off to check on a small pool and scrape at the western end of the reserve, to see if there were any interesting birds there. As a result we all had good views of Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stint. In addition to these we had Tree Sparrow, Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff and Greenfinch along the path back to the carpark.
Little Stint

We then moved on to Frampton Marsh and after lunch walked to the hides overlooking the freshwater marshes and pools. From the 360 hide we saw Shelduck, Shoveler, and Pintail in addition to the Wigeon. Also a smart Wheatear and Grey Heron. On the path we found a Small Copper sunning itself and from the Reed Hide we saw a lone Green Sandpiper, some very smart Gadwall and Egyptian Geese to add to our list.
Finally on a walk round to the last hide we came across a Whinchat keeping company with a Wheatear and a Goldfinch and spotted a Kingfisher patrolling the channel below the bank.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Marble at Broom

We just had to go and have a look at the Marbled Duck at Broom today. Despite the on/off appearance it was showing well at the far end of the pool by the entrance when we arrived. It swam about quite frenetically for most of the time but slowed down long enough to get some reasonable shots of it.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Holme, sweet Holme!

On Saturday we, including Gen, travelled to Holme Dunes to see what was about. As NWT members we didn't get into the Reserve until 10am but walked over to the dunes to see what the shore had to offer. There were an abundance of waders on the shore - Curlew, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sum. plum. Grey Plover, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Sanderling, Redshank, Common Tern and a few Little Egret. A group of House Martins were flying back and forth along the dunes. We were joined by Ray Roche who had seen Gen and came over to have a chat. Out at sea there were Common Scoter, Arctic Skua and Gannets.

Once the Reserve was opened we parked and walked back to join a group of birders who were watching a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and a Barred Warbler.

The Shrike was an easy spot but the Barred Warbler was more elusive. Inthe meantime two, more obliging, Wheatear posed on the top of one of the shrubs in the centre of the dunes. Patience won out and we eventually got a reasonable view of the Barred Warbler but not long enough to get any record shots.

We made our way to Redwell Marsh where a Red-necked Phalarope had taken up residence on Friday - a dainty little bird who was very easily spotted but not too easily photographed!

For once we had spent the whole day at Holme but with three really good birds and great seawatching. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Green Sandpiper and Polish Swan

A trip to Wilstone Reservoir produced this good shot on Sunday. We also had good views of Kingfishers, Spotfly, Greenshank, Grey Wagtail, Red Kite and Peregrine. We moved on to College Lake and after tea and cake in the new visitor centre, the highlight was another Kingfisher.  

After leaving College Lake we made our way to Newport Pagnall where Gen led the way to Gayhurst lakes and views of the Polish Swans, a young Great Crested Grebe family and a couple of Common Sandpipers.