Thursday, 28 August 2014

Chats, Flys and Ears

A few snippets from last week - a single Green Sand flew on to the spit on the morning of the 22nd and a nice flock of 8 Yellow Wagtails flew off north from Pump Lane paddocks later the same day - I've never seen them at this site before.  The following morning, before a long weekend away over the bank holiday, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw an Osprey flying steadily southwards, this was at 8:45am.  Not quite on patch, but it may well have been a few minutes later if anyone was there to look.  This is my 4th Osprey from the house since 2010, all in the period August 19th-23rd and all flying south or SSW, so it does make me wonder whether it is the same bird.

One of the riverside meadows has a large expanse of metre tall dying vegetation in it.  I have been hoping that this might attract Whinchats and have been checking it regularly.  It was therefore a bit galling to find that 2 Whinchats were seen over the weekend whilst I was away.  What's more, a Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the hedge of the same meadow and is a bird that I keep missing on patch - it is barely annual on site now.

So after my return, I paid a visit on the morning of the 27th.  I was hopeful of some interesting tern, wader or gull movement, as the wind was SE, however, there was little of note on the lake, though it was apparent that the Common Tern colony had largely departed, with just an adult and 3 juveniles present.  I made my way to the weedy meadow, which has slightly restricted viewing from the railway crossing, but could find nothing within it (not surprisingly!), so I continued along the southern bank to view the east side of the spit - nothing there either.  There were a few warblers about, with a Reed Warbler in one of the reed beds, a couple of Willow Warblers and into double figures of Chiffchaffs.  On my way back, I stopped to watch the hirundines over the lake.  There were maybe 100 birds milling about, predominantly House Martins, but with many Swallows and some Sand Martins too.  My attention was drawn to the hedge behind me, as a couple of Blackbirds were making a bit of a racket in the hawthorns and as I watched, a Spotted Flycatcher was silhouetted against the sun at the top of the bush.  I moved slightly to get some sort of view of its plumage and then it vanished - still, this was a much wanted patch tick, so I was pretty happy.  I decided to go back to the railway crossing to see if it was working its way there and was glad that I did, because although there was no further sign of the Spot Fly, a small dark dumpy bird appeared on top of the weeds in the meadow not too far from me.  Half expecting it to be a Dunnock due to its colouration, I was delighted to find that it was in fact a juvenile Stonechat.  It had no real distinguishing plumage features, being fairly dark and mottled all over, but did show a nice chestnut orange tertial patch.  This is only my second patch Stonechat - not an easy bird to get.  I attempted a record shot in a fairly stiff SE breeze, but it was fairly flighty and soon moved out of sight - my one record focussed on the weeds and not the bird, though you can make out a pale tertial patch if you look hard enough!

A quick look at Pump Lane paddocks found a single Wheatear

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