Wednesday, 22 June 2011

BBQ and Longest Day

Sunday June 19
Jen's caravan at Dunwich has a delightful setting, amongst a thicket of hawthorn and bramble, with an unimpeded view out to sea, Southwold to the north and Minsmere to the south.
After the initial chat, drink and brownie, we drove to what used to be called the overflow car park at Minsmere. It's now labelled Whin Hill Lookout and cars are prevented from driving in. Yet another barrier to disabled birders.
We walked  to the splendid view of  Island Mere pool and marshes with its extensive reedbed. Almost immediately, a Bittern flew across the reeds, a Green Woodpecker landed nearby, Cetti's called and a hurtling Hobby chasing prey was beyond Marj's failing eyesight. It was rather chilly in the wind so it was a short yet productive stay.

Tuesday June 21
Where should we take Sue birding to-day? We decided on North Hide at Cley again, the second time in under a week, at least there were some birds there.
Even further on shingle to-day, much more of the area leading to the grassy path section had been roped off with orange cord, which was almost invisible until you were on top of it.  Why? Only one nest, that of an Avocet, on the previously roped off area. Perhaps the sitting bird was being disturbed.
The hide was empty, as was the scrape compared with last week. A lone 1st summer Little Gull was joined by another and then a lovely adult, both flying in from the sea.
The Black-tailed Godwits were all asleep on an island so I couldn't use my newly acquired knowledge re separating Continental sub sp from Icelandic. It's depth of colour and bill length. I couldn't see either!
A steady passage of Sand Martins and sand eel dangling Terns kept us amused.
The trudge back was too far for my left knee which hadn't liked planting more leeks and the French Beans yesterday. I stayed in the car whilst Pam and Sue walked to Daukes,  adding two Green Sandpipers  to the day list.
After a short discussion, my suggestion of a trip to find the Horsey Red-footed Falcon was voted the next move. On our way, the pager announced that a Red-foot was showing from Hickling, Bittern Hide, a much better option.
At the Centre, we were told that the bird was perched in a dead tree on the other side of the wood near the Centre.
We drove towards Whiteslea Lodge and parked in a gateway from which we could view the reedbed and the edge of the wood. Almost immediately, the 1st summer male Red-foot sped out of the wood, flew straight over the car, fed nearby and returned - presumably - to its dead tree perch. I didn't think to photograph until it was too late and, the shots I took are appalling. I did catch it transferring food from talon to beak but it's not sharp. One day.....

Couldn't resist this magnificent pair of horns.
After a ten minute wait to see if it would re-appear, we drove to the Lodge and walked to Bittern Hide - Pam dropped us off at the entrance.
A Swallow in the reed thatch caught my eye, it was struggling and I thought perhaps its foot was caught in the wire netting covering the reed. My photo revealed that it was actually doing a demolition job. Looks mighty uncomfortable nesting material.

Not a handlebar moustache
Excellent views on several occasions of two Hobbies hunting dragonflies over the reeds in front of the hide. More unsuccessful photography of extremely fast and agile hunters.
The Grey Heron is rather more stately....

It turned out to be a successful day after an inauspicious start. The falcon was a UK lifer for Sue.

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