Monday, 18 May 2015

Ups and downs

Last Monday 11th, I had spent a couple of hours from 9am at the lake. It was sunny and settled and not a lot seemed to be happening, so at about 10:45am, I said farewell to regular Alan S and set off elsewhere in search of Nightingales.  At 11:45am, whilst at least half an hour away from the patch, I received a text from Alan to say that a Spoonbill had just landed!  I quickly made my way back, but had got the unwanted text en route - 'Spoonbill has flown off west'.  So I arrived back and the bird hadn't returned.  It had spent all of 8 minutes on the spit before being spooked by the terns and flying off and I had missed it by about 20 minutes - the joys of patch listing!!! I wonder whether it might be the adult bird from last year that was present on two separate days in May and one in July (assuming it was the same bird).  I spent the next couple of hours in a fruitless wait for a no return.

The following day a summer plumaged Dunlin arrived and was around for a couple of days and a Common Sand on the 12th became two on the 13th.  There has also been a pair of Oystercatchers that fly in and out quite a bit, though Alan discovered that there might actually be two pairs, as he saw four birds together later in the week.

An unseasonal pair of Shoveler turned up on the 13th, possibly failed breeders, and on the 14th a further male joined them.  The 14th was a wet day and a late visit after work found 8 adult Little Egrets standing in the west end of the heronry.  The first nest hatched three juveniles this week, so another breeding success for this species.

Yesterday, the 17th, I was pleased to receive a text from Alan to say that he had discovered an adult Little Gull on the pit.  I was travelling back from Aylesbury with my daughter and could not get straight over there and conscious of how quickly these birds can depart wanted to get there as quickly as I could.  Once back at home the dreaded text arrived - 'can't see the bird', so I thought I had missed another good bird, but luckily, shortly later it was back, so I headed straight down and within a few minutes was watching a glorious full summer adult Little GullIt was swimming at the end of the spit, so I grabbed some quick record shots before enjoying watching it further:

This is a surprisingly scarce bird here and is only my second record since one in April 2004, though there have been other birds that I've missed, so I was very pleased to catch up with this one.  I had also missed another one last month that had arrived and gone straight through shortly after I had left the site for work.  At one point, I watched it fly off from the pit, showing those beautiful dark underwings, and fly off down the river.  I assumed that it had gone, but ten minutes later it returned.  In fact, according to other observers, it did this several times during its stay and was maybe using the river to feed.  It was last seen just before 7pm gaining height over the island and flying off S/E.

So onto today, the 18th, another wet morning.  I arrived at about 8:50am after dropping the children at school when the rain was fairly light.  Two Common Sands were new in and two LRPs and a pair of Oystercatchers made up the wader count.  At c9:45am, I suddenly noticed an adult Kittiwake flying in towards the end of the spit - it had presumably come in off the river.  It touched down on the water just beyond the spit where I took some truly awful record shots (these birds always seem to arrive in dull and wet conditions when my digiscoping fails to focus on anything!).

It drifted beyond the spit and then after only about three minutes on site it took to the air and flew off west, maybe back to the river.  This is my second Kittiwake this Spring following a bird in April and another one in March last year, so three birds in just over a year is pretty good going for what is supposedly a rare bird on patch.  The rain then set in and lasted until late morning, but little else of note was seen other than a single Linnet that flew in and landed on the spit - not common here.

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