Monday, 2 May 2011

From Pratincoles to Cranes ....Weekend Birding at its Best

Collared Pratincole.

An early start Saturday morning saw me  heading off to Lincolnshire and Norfolk for the weekend , i started of at Rosper road pools for the Collared Pratincole , i arrived at 2pm and had missed it by 25 minutes , but was informed that it often goes and returns later in the evening ,  i decided to put the time in as i had come so far , i was entertained by several House Martins and i also heard Lesser Whitethroat which was new for the year , i had been waiting for approx 3 and half hours and was deciding how much longer i should give it when another birder announced he had got it from the front of my car .

 It was quite brilliant and showed down to ten feet at times , cream throat patch and reddish underwings were the first things to hit you , short forked tail white rump and trailing edge on secondaries were easily seen , black edging around the throat patch and red base to the bill were harder to see , it was constantly flying around picking insects of the pools , whilst watching this  bird a Grasshopper Warbler started reeling in the distant bushes , i have seen four Collared Pratincoles now but this was by far the best views i have had of one .

From here i had just enough time to head of to Tetny Lock for the migrating Dotterels that had been there for the last couple of days , on arrival i picked out first 1 then 2 Yellow Wagtails which were welcome year ticks  , i reached the ploughed field and it was not long before i managed to find all 7 Dotterel 4 females in stunning plumage and 3 males , they were to distant for photos but gave great scope views , with the excitement of seeing these superb birds i headed of to a B&B near Brandon and on the way i  connected with a superb Barn Owl .

Stone Curlew.

I arrived at the first site of the day Weeting Heath just after 8.30 am and it was not long after a short scan over the road i picked up my first Stone Curlew , i also saw it in flight which was a nice bonus , i added a second bird from one of the hides and also saw a Stoat running across the  reserve , smart . i then headed of  to Lakenheath , i have not been here for a number of years and have to say the RSPB have done a wonderful job to the reserve , i was probably a couple of weeks to early for Golden Orioles at this site but never the less i had some quality birds , 2 adult Common Cranes gave amazing flights views on a couple of occasions and were also heard calling .

Common Cranes.

Other birds of note here were 3 Hobby , lots of Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats , 4 Common Terns and at least 8 Marsh Harriers giving amazing views whilst displaying plus one male bird carrying nesting material was good to see. 

My next planned destination was Halesworth and my target bird here was a superb adult Woodchat Shrike and after a short wait i was  enjoying superb views of this bird as it perched on some railway sleepers and every so often taking flight only to return to its perch.

Woodchat Shrike .

Could this weekend get any better ? well it could and it did news of an adult summer plumaged White Winged Black Tern at Minsmere which was on my way home could not be resisted , within 25 minutes i was on the site 10 minutes later i was onto the bird , quite simply brilliant to see , i have seen lots abroad but never a full summer bird in this country , wow is all i can say...

White Winged Tern.

I was treated to many flight views of this bird and although it more or less kept the same distance away it was unmistakable  , i also had superb views of  Bar Tailed Godwits in summer plumage .

Bar Tailed Godwit .

Other birds of note here were 2 singing Nightingales , Common Sandpiper , Greenshank , 2 Grey Plover and several Avocets.


The day was almost up when i was greeted to the news of 4 Black Winged Stilts in Essex , surely not was my first reaction but when the news was confirmed i could not believe my luck , i made a short diversion on the way home to Wat Tyler Country Park and believe it not the hide was harder to find then the birds !!

In Flight

One of the Four

And in flight again.

This was  the most i have seen together in the UK , i just love the long pink / red legs , they were quite flighty but did spend some time feeding along the small islands eventually they all took to flight and dropped out of view in another part of the reserve .