Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sacred Sunday

Having decided I didn't have time this morning to nip up to Rainham Marshes to try and see the Baillon's Crake that has pitched up there recently, I decided to go for it's less rare cousin the Spotted Crake at a shade closer Stanwick Lakes.
 These birds can be very elusive, and on arrival two guys were already on site. They said they had not seen it, so we spent the next hour carefully scanning across the cut reedbed in the hope it would pop out.
 After this time another guy turned up and said he would try around the corner as looking from another angle would give us more chance. I joined him and we carried on the vigil. Shortly afterwards there was movement in the reeds - not the Crake, but one, and then two Muntjac Deer showed themselves. I hoped they had not scared the Crake further into the reeds, but I need not have worried as suddenly there it was right at the edge of the water pecking away quite happily. Here it remained for five or so minutes giving everyone the chance to admire it before slipping back into the reeds. This is only the third one I've ever seen so I was more than pleased.
 A short time later it repeated the performance so I thought I would go and check out the Sacred Ibis that has been frequenting the site for a month or so.
 Prior to this, this bird had been touring the country and we caught up with it in Norfolk back in June on one of our RSPB trips. It is unringed so is possibly part of the feral population from Southern France.
Sacred Ibis (click on the picture)
 A very enjoyable morning with two very good birds seen. Who knows I may get the chance to go for the Baillon's Crake next week.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Water Harrier

With a few hours to spare Monday afternoon I nipped up to the Ouse Washes RSPB reserve as there were a few good birds around including the long staying Purple Heron and a White rumped Sandpiper.
 I didn't expect to see the Heron and indeed I didn't, nor the Glossy Ibis that has been loitering for a couple of weeks now or indeed the White rumped Sandpiper.
 Despite this there were other good birds to be seen; a juvenile Spoonbill amongst the numerous Little Egrets, at least two Curlew Sandpipers, ten Spotted Redshanks, ten to fifteen Greenshanks, many Ruff, Dunlin and Snipe and also a very entertaining Kingfisher in a bush in front of the hide.
 The White rumped Sandpiper was on site as it was seen shortly after I left. The reason I didn't see it I suspect was the flock of small waders it was amongst was constantly beeing spooked by a couple of Marsh Harriers that kept flying over the washes.
 On one such fly through we were suddenly aware that the Harrier was hovering low over the shallow  water.
The reason for this was suddenly clear as a bird kept surfacing directly underneath and hastily diving.
The Harrier obviously knew what it was doing as suddenly it just dropped down and locked on to the helpless victim - a juvenile Coot.

 It was strange to see a Harrier seemingly sitting on the water. In reality it was standing on top of the Coot. (click on the picture for a better look)
Initially all the Ducks flew off but gradually they moved in closer as their curiosity got the better of them.
For around ten minutes the Harrier sat on top of the Coot until it was satisfied it's victim had been drowned. Occaisionally it would raise it's wings and the wind would catch it and float it across the water. I feared it would end up in deeper water and then be in trouble itself

Eventually though it summoned up it's strength and hauled it's meal up out of the water and out onto a drier area.

Suddenly all the ducks scattered as they realised who the strange waterbird was.

On my way out of the reserve I bumped into Alan Davies and Ruth Miller who had just come from Titchwell, where Alan had discovered a Baird's Sandpiper. I have no doubt he would have been the one to have refound the White rumped.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Village Whinchats

This really has been an exceptional autumn for passage Redstarts and Whinchats in Bucks.
Although I haven't managed to find any of the former, Whinchats seem to be popping up everywhere before my eyes. Since finding my first at Ravenstone Sewage Works on 19th July, I have since seen up to as many as seven or eight  individuals there, with three together on one occaision.

 Better still though I have now managed a further four birds in the area local to my home village of Hardmead. The early morning dog walk can be very rewarding at this time of year!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Willen Herons

On my latest visit to Willen Lake I was very pleased to see that the Parks Trust have finally cut down the reeds in front of the hide.
I know the excuse is that they can't do it during the breeding season but surely they can be kept in check before the nesting season starts and then a bit of careful cutting back during it it.
I guess it's all or nothing with these guys.
After all why bother putting a hide there in the first place if no-one can see out of it.

Anyway rant over, the place is looking pretty good at the moment.
There were no waders in front of the hide but over on the spit a flock of twenty or so Lapwings played host to a fine Black-tailed Godwit.
Ducks are starting to build up with a few Gadwall and Shoveler joining the regular Mallards and Tufties.
 Although lacking waders the area in front of the hide seems to be a good hunting area for Little Egrets -4 birds on site - and Herons.

Little Egret
Grey Heron
Little Egret