Saturday, 15 June 2013

Avocet Exocets

On Friday we stood with the location we gave 3 months' notice we wished to visit. Showers were forecast, but in the morning the rain held off. The perfectly still and sunny early morning clouded over and the westerly wind strengthened before lunch.

Common terns & Avocets
 Marsh Harrier
From the first hide a pair of Pochard showed very well, whilst further off were Tufted Ducks & Friday Unmentionables. Again, the latter 2 species showed signs of going into eclipse. Whilst we were in the hide various Reed warblers were singing constantly, with Reed Buntings, Wrens and a Song Thrush were singing less often. A few times a Water Rail made some unusual squeals right under the hide, and a Cetti's Warbler sang at least times but was very distant. The highlight here was a male Marsh Harrier which was quartering the left-hand reedbed. After watching it for a few minutes it flew right across the front of the hide, providing everyone with excellent views of its smart plumage. 
Marsh Harrier
 Red-Crested Pochard
The walk round the perimeter added Willow Warbler, and an unexpected drake Red-Crested Pochard sitting near a pair of Swans. A Whitethroat was singing lustily at the northern end of Target Lake, but the tide was at its highest, so there were no mudflats for any potential waders. Chowder Ness was pretty inundated too. 
Reed Bunting
 Reed Warbler
The walk to the next hide was pretty uneventful with just a Whitethroat singing behind the shelter of the bank. The female Avocet was still sat on her eggs on the raft, but while we were watching her partner came to relieve her. The Avocets and Common Terns seemed to be undergoing a running battle, as each jostled for space on what is a pretty small raft. A large abandoned (goose?) egg still lay where we saw it last week. The only new bird seen on the water was a Great crested Grebe, but the Pochard were screened by the reeds. A Reed Warbler came to hunt insects in the bush near the hide, and another came up on the reeds and was seen to take a large caterpillar.
 Ditto - eyeing up a Caterpillar
 Snatching a Snack
Once we left the hide a Chiffchaff could be heard, but we couldn't track down its precise location. We walked across the meadow area, where we heard and saw a Willow Tit, and a large family of Long-tailed Tits. The White Bryony was just begin its stranglehold on the vegetation, and some purple spikes of Marsh Orchid were seen. In fact we found a meadow in which a large area of Orchids were just beginning to come into flower. It was still too early to find the Bee Orchids which sometimes come up in this area.  
Coot Family

In the afternoon Betty was the first to leave one hide, when she face to face with the explosive song of a Cetti's Warbler, it then proceeded to bob about on a few branches before flying off and singing again from further away.  No one else managed to see it & most of us were still in the hide.
There wasn't much of interest to see from the final hide, just what looked like Sedge Warblers diving into cover with food, and then emerging briefly with what looked like faecal sacs.

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