Saturday, 27 June 2015

Night, night.

Last night I headed out into the wilds of South Northumberland to try and see Nightjar.  I arrived at the sight around 9:30pm and after putting on lots of Midge repellent I had a slow walk into the forest.  Then at 10:20pm, with quite a bit brightness still in the sky, the first Nightjars started flying around.  At one point I had two flying around over my head wing-clapping.  There was also a supporting cast of Woodcock and Tawny Owl as well as the sound of Snipe, Curlew and Golden Plover calling from the moors.  On the walk back to the car I saw another two Nightjar, making probably five or six individuals seen.   Then on the way home I came across a badger strolling down the road.  He wasn't really bothered that I was sitting in the car with him lit up in my main beam while he had a sniff around.  He then just strolled off into the long grass at the side of the road and disappeared into the darkness.  What a superb night!!!!

Monday, 1 June 2015

East Anglian Springwatch

I have just returned from a family holiday in East Anglia.  We stayed in a small village near Thetford called East Harling, I chose this location because it's central and all the main birding sites in Norfolk and Suffolk are easily reached.
Even though it was a family holiday I still managed to do quite a bit of birding.  Thanks to my fantastic wife and very patient 8 year old daughter!
On 24th May we went to Choseley drying barns where we got Dottrel and Corn Bunting.

We spent the 25th May at Minsmere, the highlights were Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Bearded Tit, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Avocet and Red-Necked Phalarope.  Before heading back to the cottage we had a walk around Dunwich Heath where we had at least four singing male Dartford Warblers. 

On 26th May we started at Lakenheath Fen where despite listening to the Little Bittern calling for over an hour it just wouldn't show itself.  At one point I looked up and the sky was full of Hobby's, there were at least 30 all hawking insects.  Other birds seen were Bearded Tit, Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Cuckoo and Common Crane.

Because the light wasn't very good when we were at Dunwich I wasn't able to get any photos of Dartford Warbler, so on the 28th May we headed back to Dunwich.  A circular walk around the heath produced 9 Dartford Warblers including one that posed for a photo.  Other birds seen on the walk were Red Kite, Hobby, Stonechat and Green Woodpecker.  A Nightingale was also heard singing.

Next we had a walk across Westleton Heath where I had a brief view of a Nightingale as it flew from one bush to another, with at least another 2 heard singing.  We then headed down to Minsmere where we watched a Bittern have an aerial battle with a Marsh Harrier from the Bittern hide. 

Unfortunately Spineless Simon had gone missing presumed eaten, but I did get a shot of his replacement, 'Frisky Phil'.

On the way back to the cottage we called in at Middle Harling Heath to have a look to see what was there and despite hearing Woodlark all I could find were Skylarks.

The weather forecast for the 29th May was for a band of rain to pass through during the middle of the day, so we started with a walk around Middle Harling Heath before the rain started.  This time we had better luck than the previous day finding a nice Woodlark feeding with the Skylarks.  Unfortunately as I crept up on the Woodlark for a photo, one of the Skylarks chased it off, so no photos.  In the afternoon after the rain had stopped we tried a few sights where I had seen Turtle Dove in the past but with no luck, though at Great Ryburgh we did see a Little Owl and 4 Egyptian Geese.

On our way home on the 30th May we tried a couple more locations for Turtle Dove but unfortunately we just coudn't find any.  So after a bacon sandwich at Titchwell we started the long journey home.