Monday 31 May 2010

Cambridgeshire – Ouse Washes – 22nd May 2010

This is a pretty unfamiliar site for me, we'd been here a few years back in deepest winter, but it was quite late in the afternoon and the fading light had restricted our exploration.

Seeing it now was totally different, Swallows all around, Sedge and Reed Warblers singing from the river bank and on the Wash itself Little Egrets, Heron, left over Wigeon & Whooper Swan!, Mute Swan, Lapwing & Redshank.

Of note also were the number of Dragonflies emerging. We saw Hairy Dragonfly, Four -spotted Chaser and Scarce Chaser.

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 204 Month bird count: 86

Photo: Little Egret (Egretta garzetta); Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

Monday 24 May 2010

Suffolk – Lakenheath Fen – 22nd May 2010

This time of year you can keep it simple and go where you know certain species are going to be, this often results in exceptional views of birds that otherwise you might only get distantly or fleeting. Last week we did this for Nightingale at Fingringhoe and this week is was to be Hockwold. This site is famed for Golden Oriole, but actually more certain for views of Cuckoo, Hobby and Grasshopper Warbler. We’d seen plenty of Hobbies a couple of weeks back but only heard Cuckoo. This weekend, with the Warblers now nesting the Cuckoos were much more likely to be about in the open, we were not disappointed, getting good views of three birds. The bonus though was a Grasshopper Warbler, a reeling bird just off the path giving great views. On the visit we also saw tens of Reed & Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier & Common Tern.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 203 Month bird count: 82
Photo: Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – 19th May 2010

Thought I’d keep you abreast of the spring effect in the park. It is safe to say now that all the winter visitors (Redwing, Fieldfare etc), have been gone for about six weeks. The residents have been breading, Magpies most prolifically, there must be getting on for ten pairs, which is not good news for the passerines. Surprise breeders are a pair of Grey Wagtails. With respect to migrant, well I’ve seen Swift, Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Lesser Whitethroat, however all but the Swift & Chiffchaff appear to have moved on. Maybe this is due to all the Magpies being around. On some nearby water, both Moorhen and Mallard have breed, plus I saw a Terrapin sunning its self. The butterflies have been a great surprise, within 4 weeks I have seen Peacock, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Small & Large Whites, Small Tortishell and Comma.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 200 Month bird count: 75 Photo: European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Monday 17 May 2010

Essex – Fingringhoe – 15th May 2010

This Essex Wildlife Trust reserve is bordered by the river Colne on one side, open salt marsh on another and has rural Essex to the west, is often over looked and to be honest not the easiest place to find, but it does have one of the best visitors centres in East Anglia.
This time of year it is a prime place to see Nightingales, we encountered six singing birds and had great views of three of them. Adding to the woodland birds we also saw Blackcap, Bullfinch, Whitethroat & Chiffchaff. On the estuary there were gatherings of Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck & Canada Goose, from the reed beds Sedge Warbler.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 200 Month bird count: 74
Photo: Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

Friday 14 May 2010

Suffolk – Lakenheath Fen – 1st May 2010

On our return from the Norfolk coast we decide to drop in to this RSPB reserve and take the long walk right around, rather than our normal “spot the Golden Oriole!” (Ah see that branch… that’s where it was!). We had great views of four Hobbies high above the trees. Heard several calling Cuckoos. Saw Reed & Sedge Warblers, along with quite a lot of wildfowl on the water including nesting Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen & Coot. The Oriole’s… not a chance :-) Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 199 Month bird count: 67
Photo: Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Norfolk – Snettisham – 1st May 2010

We did this visit at the same time last year and found it perfect for seeing the spring arrivals settling into their territories and pairing up.

As you wander off the coastal path into the reeds and small tree areas there is an abundance of passerines calling and moving around. Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler & Reed Warbler together with resident Linnet, Stonechat & Reed Bunting.

Moving along and locating wetter areas it is not long before you pick up the reeling call of the Grasshopper Warbler, then it's a sort of stake out between you and the sound in order to get a glimpse.

The site is not all about breeding birds though, in late April and early May there is always quite a large passage through and on this day Whinchat were there in numbers along with Wheatear.

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 198 Month bird count: 64

Photo: Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Norfolk – Titchwell – 11th April 2010

I’m now way behind reporting trips this year, so after this retrospective report from RSPB Titchwell I’ll try and get myself at least into the right month! This was a great day, plenty to see and great to get the feel of an English spring and all the changes in behaviour it brings. Ducks chasing each other across the reed beds, waders in summer plumage, warblers singing in the trees and a large flock of winter ducks moving through to their breeding grounds up north. Species included; Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Scoter, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Shoveler and Egyptian Goose.
Life bird count: 394 Year bird count: 190 Month bird count: 71
Photo: Shoveler (Anas clypeata)