Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 29 Jun

A morning at the reservoir produced two Common Sandpipers on the northern causeway, the first returning birds and a sign of Autumn late June! A Kingfisher flew across the reservoir and was lost to view near the Sailing Club and a Little Egret was perched up on the water's edge.
I spent the most of the rest of my time on site concentrating on the southern end of the reservoir where on the water a couple of drake Tufted Ducks. Nine Stock Doves were feeding on one of the newly mown fields and around Cotton Bridge a Marsh Tit was seen alongside a fairly large family party of Blackcaps. At least one Treecreeper was heard and a Kingfisher put on a bit of a show.
I then returned to the car and drove round to the Water Treatment Works where a Grey Wagtail and a Little Egret were feeding in the outflow stream, my third Kingfisher of the day zoomed along the stream and rounded off a nice trip out on patch on the bird front. It was also a pretty good morning for insects with Banded Demoiselle and Broad-bodied Chaser seen at the outflow stream, whilst elsewhere on site both Azure Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly. Butterflies were also present in good numbers with my first Ringlet of the year and a few Small Skippers alongside good numbers of Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Small Tortoiseshells.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sutton Bingham - Sun 22 Jun

My first proper visit to Sutton Bingham for about a month and a few things of interest, surprisingly given the fact it's mid-June. The southern end of the reservoir played host to a female Mandarin with one juvenile bird, so looks like they bred successfully at the reservoir this year. A drake Tufted Duck was also present and Great Crested Grebes seem to have had a good season with at least twenty young birds present. A Kingfisher also whizzed by as I was scanning the area from the southern causeway.
From the northern causeway it was pretty quiet, though a Hobby was soaring overhead before gathering pace and flying south. Also flying through a single Little Egret, again going south.
Lots of butterflies on the wing today, with my Marbled Whites of year alongside lots of Meadow Browns and a few Small Tortoiseshells. I also saw a single Small Skipper.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Fingringhoe Sand Quarry - Wed 18 Jun

This afternoon I stayed close to the cottage and popped along to the sand quarry. It was pretty quiet though there were a few bumblebees around, I could identify the White-tailed Bumblebee easily enough but the other species was a little more tricky and I think they were Red-shanked Bumblebees...but I'll happily stand corrected! Just round the corner from the sand quarry was the barn where I had seen the Little Owl a couple of days earlier, so I stopped off and within a few minutes two Little Owls put in an appearance.
Also from this site I saw a distant Marsh Harrier, a nice way to end the day.

Flatford - Wed 18 Jun

A trip in to Suffolk this morning and a visit to Flatford, the location of the mill in John Constable's painting "The Hay Wain". It was a lovely spot and unknown to me there was a small RSPB reserve, really just a wildlife garden, but very pretty if only home to commoner birds.
Whilst sat enjoying a coffee a Kingfisher flew down the river and a Lesser Whitethroat could be heard singing. I also noted a couple of Banded Demoiselles and a Broad-bodied Chaser. So not a lot to see on the bird front but a very interesting spot and a enjoyable morning out.

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Tue 17 Jun

Back out after breakfast and another visit to Fingringhoe Wick, this time I concentrated on the eastern edge of the reserve and this paid dividends as I had some amazing views of purring Turtle Doves, at least two birds were singing and another two were seen in flight. Brilliant stuff! Unfortunately the pose for the camera (digi-binned today!) was limited to its tail end!
Walking round to overlook the estuary produced an Essex Skipper, a new butterfly for me, whilst on the estuary waders included Redshank, Curlew and a few Grey Plover. As I returned to the car a Cuckoo was singing, a Garden Warbler put in a brief appearance, and the small pond near the visitor centre held a Little Grebe feeding a youngster.

Abberton Reservoir - Tue 17 Jun

Our cottage was not far from the large Abberton Reservoir, and this morning I decided to pay the site a visit before breakfast. There are two causeways that cross the reservoir and I started on the eastern causeway where scoping across the water I could see several Common Terns feeding over the water. There were also good numbers of Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mute Swans. A Little Ringed Plover was sat on a shingle area and hardly moved during my stay, so I presume it was on eggs.
A Corn Bunting was a nice surprise as it perched on a barbed wire fence and a couple of Linnets flew over.
I then moved down to the western causeway, known locally as Layer Breton causeway. From here I could hear a purring Turtle Dove, but couldn't see it. I did see a very smart male Yellow Wagtail though feeding on the causeway and four Egyptian Geese were resting on one of the small islands.
A return visit at the end of the day produced two Green Sandpipers from Layer Breton causeway

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Sun 15 Jun

Sure enough a day later I found myself back at Finringhoe Wick reserve. It was a lovely hot afternoon but my timing was off again as I arrived on site with a little under an hour before the reserve shut for the day! So it was a quick walk around the centre of the reserve today where I was treated to some wonderful views of a singing Lesser Whitethroat and heard another singing Nightingale.
The approach road had produced another Little Owl, this time hanging out around a barn, and a fly-over male Marsh Harrier.

Fingringhoe Wick EWT - Sat 14 Jun

In Essex for a week, tagging a few days holiday on to the trip up for a friends wedding and today I popped the mile or so down the road to the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve of Fingringhoe Wick, startling a pair of Red-legged Partridges from the side of the road as I drove along. I arrived at 6.30am and the gate to the reserve was closed, however, there was parking off the road so leaving the car I took a stroll around for about an hour. I was greeted by the singing of at least four Nightingales, though typically they were well hidden in the undergrowth. There were also several Cuckoos on the reserve with probably five different birds either seen or heard. I didn't really get much of a chance to explore the reserve fully as I needed to head back to our cottage for breakfast, but it looked promising so I knew I'd be returning at some stage over the next week.
I took a slightly route back to our cottage and passed through a sand quarry, a few birds about such as Skylarks and Stock Doves and a large colony of Sand Martins, highlight though was a Little Owl...unbelievably the first owl I have seen this year!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Morden Bog NR - Sun 1 Jun

Despite still suffering with a head cold and blocked sinuses I had no option but to drive down to Morden Bog this morning to see the mega rarity discovered yesterday! Arriving on site just before 7.00am I joined the few hundred birders already present and spent an hour enjoying some great views of a Short-toed Eagle! The bird spent the entire duration of my stay perched in a pine tree in the near distance, and fortunately the gathered masses were all pretty sensible and everyone was content viewing the bird from a distance to avoid flushing it. As usual I tried my best to get some top-quality images of this major rarity, and despite the distance I think you can tell that this is indeed a bird:
The Short-toed Eagle attracted quite a bit of avian interest too, with a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Green Woodpecker, a Mistle Thrush and a pair of Carrion Crows all giving it a bit of stick! Other birds seen whilst on site included several singing Tree Pipits, a nice male Stonechat and a fly-over Siskin. A bit of a surprise came in the form of an adult Mediterranean Gull which flew over with a small number of Black-headed Gulls. All in all a brilliant start to the day despite the fact I felt awful!