Tuesday, 28 April 2015

That's more like it!

April 26th - I had lain in bed the previous morning listening to the gentle rain falling and knew this was good weather to be on patch, but knew also that I couldn't get there.  It was disappointing, but such is life.  However, someone had been there and had only had 4 Arctic Terns, which would have been nice to see, but was not the end of the world to miss.

The following day, the 26th, I was free to visit, so was up and out by 6am.  The weather still looked good and it was staying dry, which is not always great for seeing birds, but is nicer to be out in!  The first birds I noticed were a couple of Common Sands resting on the newly towed out tern rafts.  This was followed by a couple of year ticks, firstly, at least 3 Garden Warblers along the south bank (the first had been seen a few days previously) and then a nice 'rattling' Lesser Whitethroat along the railway.  These are not easy to see on patch with just the odd Spring and Autumn record, so I stayed until I got a nice view of it.  As I continued along the south bank I heard Reed Warbler and then Sedge Warbler in the south east corner plus loads of Blackcaps.  Up the east bank, I flushed a Common Sand from the edge - was this number 3?  I was keeping an eye on the lake, but other than the burgeoning flock of Common Terns which will hopefully have a good breeding season, I wasn't seeing anything else.  Another Common Sand was on the north bank - bird number 4 or a repeat sighting?

I made my way back to the bench on the west side where Ben H was sitting with his two dogs - I had passed him earlier and he hadn't seen anything of note either.  It was now a little after 8am.  As I stood talking to him, I scanned the tern flock in the south east corner and immediately saw a small tern - 'Little Tern!', I exclaimed.  I put the scope up for a better view and then unbelievably saw an adult Kittiwake sitting on the water in the same area.  Two good birds within a minute - incredible!  I went to the viewpoint, which is marginally closer to the birds, in the hope of grabbing some record shots.  I had no hope with a flying Little Tern, but fortunately after ten minutes or so, it made its way to the spit and settled there for a while.  In the dim morning light, focussing is a problem for my digiscoping, but I managed one reasonable record:

I really struggled with the Kittiwake, as it was fairly distant and constantly on the move drifting, so here is a classic record shot!:

Jackie N and Jim R joined me after a while and saw both birds.  Jackie left and Jim continued round the lake to see if he could get any closer.  As he was walking, I watched the Kittiwake lift off and fly low out of the SE corner where it very likely flew into Berkshire as the river and boundary is only about 50 yards from here.  The bird had been present for about an hour.  The Little Tern was to stay all day and was seen flying off at 8:20pm that evening, so an extended stay.

Some much better shots of the tern are here:

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3

And a marginally better Kittiwake shot:

Photo 1

Also on the spit, a Green Sandpiper was with 2 Common Sands and I had just seen 2 Common Sands on the far side of the spit, so definitely 4 birds.

I was now running out of time as I had to get home, but decided to check Pump Lane paddocks.  On first glance there appeared to be little here.  I saw a Blackbird by the far hedge, which is about 400yds away and pretending it might be a Ring Ouzel, I decided to scope it - Blackbird!  However, a small scan right and I suddenly picked up a small pale brown bird flying back to the fenceline showing a nice red tail - bingo!  I had seen a female Redstart in the same hedge a couple of years ago in late April, so a nice repetition.  I watched it for about 10 minutes and then headed home with five nice year ticks under the belt.

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