Saturday, 24 May 2014

Not Productive- Annual Brecks

Friday May 23

Postponed from yesterday, due to a dire forecast - when we had sun all day - an early start for Weeting Heath NWT reserve. Greeted by a doleful Major, in mourning because a Stone Curlew nest had been predated overnight. Not on the main reserve, on the hill opposite. He then gave us an update. One nest, the one in front of West Hide, had already produced three hatchlings which had died after 5 days of heavy rain. Hypothermia maybe. She was sitting again, the nest is on the slope behind the right-hand clump of 'brash' (sticks) to the left of the hide.
A second pair had hatched two young and the male had led them all over the brow where they couldn't be seen. The Spotted Flycatcher was sitting on eggs and unlikely to be seen, Turtle Dove was opposite at the top of the Woodland Walk. Good mourning indeed.
Entering the hide, we soon found the sitting Stone Curlew, in the open unusually, not even near a clump of nettles. I set up my scope and, optimistically, tried some digiscoping. 

This will not win any prizes....
 A call from the other birder present alerted me to the other pair plus one chick appearing above the brow of the hill. Most frequently, a head, sometimes a torso, never any legs. Where was the second chick? Hopefully out of view, not missing.
Lakenheath was great last year, less so to-day. Viewing from the large open-fronted hide overlooking a pool, I enjoyed scoping the three Hobbies hawking over the far bank of trees amongst dozens of Swifts. Hunting must be good. I love watching them catch an insect, lift a talon to their beaks and eat. It's the only time they lose their awesome speed. None came close enough to photograph, I concentrated on the spectacle. Some had seen five Hobby together, Tony S had, near the Centre. I had three in my scope at once which made me happy. Tony is a fund of information about Cley Marsh as he leads there. Liz wasn't with him to-day, she was still suffering from a stomach bug the whole party had suffered from during  an Ethiopia birding trip
We had two prolonged views of flying Bittern, always exciting, a lone Kingfisher, a pair of Marsh Harriers and a Great Crested Grebe. Reed and Sedge Warblers and Bearded Tits called around us as did several Cuckoos. We were seldom without the triumphant call of the latter, two flying from left to right across the clearing, views of three others.
No Golden Oriole this year, only one in 2013. According to Tony, the birds' study group has been disbanded. Luck with passing migrants seems to be the only opportunity for a sighting.
Not fancying the walk to the far hide, due to the mass of heavy black cloud now overhead, we decided to drive elsewhere.
Pam had spotted this 6.5 cm Drinker Moth caterpillar on the verge of the path.

A WWT rep. at the Bird Fair had told us about two Great White Egrets at the Welney reserve. When we got there, along the most undulating and uneven lanes in Norfolk - which is saying something - we were told that they hadn't been seen for 5 days. Great. 
The main hide is very comfortable, the best there is, we sat and looked through the non-openable panoramic windows. Twenty Black-tailed Godwits in the near pool and, at least 15 Whooper Swans spread throughout the marsh were the highlights. They can't all be injured......

A pair of Little Ringed Plover and their two delightful chicks kept us amused. The young ones looked legless as they darted across the mud.
After a drink in the cafe, we drove home. Not as productive a day as we'd hoped for but we always enjoy our birding sessions.

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