Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Dotterel, Fair Snape Fell, Bowland, Lancashire 25 April 2011

Having been at work Sunday, when the birds were broadcast, I had to wait 'til the next morning to be able to get the chance to view them. Me good mate Ian Walker had been up that day with his wife Michelle and viewed the birds and was prepared to go up again early on Bank Holiday Monday morning to photograph them, before we went to Turf Moor to watch the Clarets.
Gettin up Parlick Pike with me gear made me realise how unfit I was! Once on top it was a nice walk over to Fair Snape Fell where we soon caught up with 5 Dotterels (3 males, 2 females).
Whilst up there, we were joined by Lancashire birders Brian Rafferty and me good mate Mike Watson.

Many thanks to Brian Rafferty for allowing permission in using this image.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

In search of Nightingales in Cambridgeshire, 17th April 2011

One bird that has always eluded me, is a nightingale. I've spent hours at Salthouse in Norfolk and also at Paxton Pits in Cambridgeshire in search of this superb passerine. I suggested to Ian Walker that we needed a trip to Paxton to finally catch up with this bird.
We set off at midnight, and by 0400am we were on scene. A quick snooze followed, and by 0600am we were in search down the tracks.
We soon heard nightingales singing in bushes next to the paths, but again, the density stopped us from seeing them, just as they had done previously wherever I'd been!
Local birder Gary then heard one further down the track, and called us over. Before we got to him though, it had disappeared over the tops and back down.
Again, the nightingale could be heard, and when we walked round the back of the area the bird could be seen in the tree. Finally I'd seen a nightingale, and I managed a couple of images.

Having caught up with our target bird, we then drove down to Ouse Washes RSPB reserve in Cambridgeshire for the Blue Winged Teal that had been there a few days. On arrival, birders were leaving and when asked if the bird was here, all stated that it was close and easy to see. Great.
Once inside the hide, the bird couldn't be seen at all. Great White Egret, Little Egret, Shoveler, Teal were all seen but no Blue Winged Teal. I could hear conversation through the door on my right and when I went through the unlocked door, two birders said that the bird had been showing well, but had disappeared down the channel on the other side of the canal, and was heading right with a Shoveler.
It was obvious that if it had carried on going right, we wouldn't see it.
After a period of absence, the Teal eventually swam back into view, but it wasn't close, and must have been 40 meters away. Add to that, facing into blinding sun, no images were worth saving.
Good views were had of a resident Green Woodpecker and also flight views of a Yellow Wagtail.
Time was on our side, and after arriving in the car park, we asked another birder if he had any information on the Bluethroat at Welney WWT in Norfolk. He'd seen it earlier that morning, so with that, we headed off to Norfolk to see if we could both see it.

Welney was heaving with folk, but we had arrived and with that, set off in search of the elusive Bluethroat. On our way to the area it had last been seen, Sedge Warblers were seen singing in the reeds, and near to the area was a Whitethroat singing its heart out.
The area was thick with reeds, and getting a photo, never mind seeing the bird looked ominous.
We stood for a while, and I wondered whether we would get a better view from the nearby hide. The dilemma was whether to stay put, or head to the hide. Ian said he'd check the hide for room, and wave from there if there was enough room in there, whilst I stayed in my spot. Ian was approximately 25 meters away, when I saw a bird fly through the reeds. I quickly saw that it was indeed the Bluethroat. I managed to attract Ian's attention, and he came back. The bird was too far away to photograph, but then flew towards us both into a bush, where it sang from for a couple of minutes, before flying off again, further and into dense undergrowth. Whilst it sang singing, I managed a few images, which were unfortunately spoiled by a rogue reed.

We had had a superb day out with fantastic birds, and with that, made our way back to Lancashire.