Saturday, May 27, 2017

Oaklands Wetlands

There had been reports of a couple of Pink-eared ducks at Oaklands Wetlands, so I popped down there yesterday to see if I could get some photos. 

One of the first birds I saw was a Black-tailed Nativehen. These birds are an irruptive species, normally seen in large flocks, and are usually very wary.  As long as I stayed still, this one was happy to fossick around only a few metres from me.

I found the Pink-eared ducks on a small reed fringed pool, and again, they were quite happy as long as I kept my distance.

There were also plenty of more common species, including Purple Swamphen, Little Grebe, Maned Duck, Coot,  Pacific Black Duck and Little Pied Cormorant.

Friday, May 26, 2017

UK Birding - Norfolk

My final birding was a couple of days in Norfolk. The weather was awful, so I headed for the RSPB reserve at Titchwell as I knew it had plenty of hides for shelter.  The feeding station outside the visitor centre was pretty busy, and amongst the usual finches and tits were a Jay, a very bright Pheasant and Blackbird

From the hides there were Avocets with chicks, Black-tailed Godwits, Shelduck and Common Teal.

There had been some Dotterels seen on the farmland behind the reserve, but all I could find were a pair of Grey Partridge.

On my way back to London, I called in to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Weeting Heath.  It was sad to see how the habitat had deteriorated, and the only birds of any interest were on the feeders and in the pond.  The list included Goldfinch, Great Tit, Yellowhammer, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Robin. Barn Swallows were looking for nest sites in the visitor centre there

Last stop was the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen.  Last time I was here there were no visitor facilities at all, and 14 pairs of the rare Golden Oriole breeding here.  This time lots of new pools, hides and a big visitor centre, but the Orioles have gone.  Somehow I think the priorities here are a bit out of kilter.  There were a few Hobbies on the reserve as well as a Marsh Harrier and lots of Great Crested Grebes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UK Birding - Somerset Levels and Hunstanton Cliffs

Whilst en-route from Plymouth to Northampton, I passed through the Somerset Levels, another favourite birding spot. Most of the time was spent at the new RSPB Reserve at Ham Wall, under the watchful gaze of Glastonbury Tor.

There were plenty of birds on the reserve, but most of them were pretty distant.  I did manage pics of Grey Heron, Common Pochard and Tufted Duck.

After another visit with the grandkids I was headed to Norfolk.  As I was going to Hunstanton for dinner I called in at the cliffs there to try and photograph the Northern Fulmars.  The cliffs are now fenced of by no less than three fences, and the view is much poorer than I remember, but after numerous attempts, practising on Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, I finally got a few shots of the Fulmar.

On the way back to my accommodation, I saw a family of Greylag Geese, some Red-legged Partridge and Collared Dove.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UK Birding - Devon and Cornwall

While I was staying with Mum in Plymouth I did some birding in Devon and Cornwall.  Mum is only a few minutes from the edge of Dartmoor, so that is a regular pre-breakfast spot.  A favourite spot of mine is Shaugh Bridge. This is a regular location for Dipper and Grey Wagtail.  No Dippers this time, but I did see some Mandarin Ducks here.

Higher on the moor there are always lots of Yellowhammers, Stonechats and Robins.

I also spotted this very newly born Dartmoor Pony foal with is mother.

In the oak woodland, the summer migrants, (Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler), were back, but proved impossible to photograph.  Easier were the Coal Tit and Nuthatch.

I checked Aylesbeare Common for Dartford Warbler, and almost stepped on this Adder sunning itself on the path (Apologies for the quality - my camera had switched settings).  I did eventually see some Dartford Warblers foraging low in the gorse.

Common in the hedgerows, Dunnock is also known as Hedge Sparrow.  Herring Gulls are everywhere, and are becoming a nuisance in some cities.

A day in Cornwall produced some good birding, with Whimbrel, Little Egrets, always flighty Shelduck, Pied Wagtails, Rock Pipit, Common Whitethroat and Northern Gannets amongst the birds seen and photographed.