Sunday, 31 May 2009

Suffolk Trip - Day 1

On Thursday I set off for Suffolk for three days of birding staying not far from Minsmere leaving early to avoid jams at the A14/M6 junction.

It didn't take me too long for me to make my first mistake when I left the A14 to visit Wicken Fen to try for the Squacco Heron.Unfortunately I arrived there too early (7.30AM), the centre was closed and no one was around. I followed the site map to what I thought was the right area but after an hours search I had not seen it so I left.When I tried to get on the A14 again I was faced with a police road block and was sent off down some country lane.It took me ages to get back on the A14.A great decision then to go for the Heron!!!!!!!

I then drove to Dunwich Heath where I intended to spend the rest of the day with the main aim to try and get some decent shots of the Dartford Warblers.Did no good in the morning but when the sun came out after lunch I managed to see at least 6 in various places.

After that I went to one of my favourite spots on the heath the sloping scrub area between the car park and the first Minsmere Marsh which seems to attract loads of birds.I saw both Whitethroats,WillowWarblers,Stonechats,Yellowhammers,Chiffchaffs,Cetti'Warblers,Nightingales and there was a Common Rosefinch there but I didn't see it.

A few pics attached.Click on them for a larger version.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Marsh Lane Sunday and Monday mornings.

Popped across to Marsh Lane on both Sunday and Monday mornings not wishing to get trapped in the holiday traffic by going further afield.

Sunday the weather was great and it was a pleasure to stroll round.Best spots other than the usual suspects were a Water Rail,two Dunlins and four Cuckoos allthough I only spotted one.

Monday morning was better regarding decent birds because a Black Tailed Godwit dropped in.It flew off twice into the distance but must have had a change of mind and returned on both occasions.The two Dunlins were still there.

Click on pics for a larger view.

A Visit to the Arden Falconry at Hanbury.

After the visit to the Wyre Forest I did a detour and called in at the Jenney Ring craft centre at Hanbury where the Arden Falconry is based.It's well worth a visit at anytime as their Owls,Falcons and Hawks etc. are on display all the time but at least twice a day they take some of them out for a fly round.

On Saturday afternoon first out was a Saker Falcon which as soon as it was released it disappeared in the direction of the Malvern hills but after what seemed an age it returned.Next out was a Harris Hawk and later on a European Eagle Owl (this was not allowed to fly around which was a good job as it was massive and would have scared me to death).

Well worth a visit.

Wyre Forest Trip on Saturday Morning.

Having got advice from some fellow birders how to get there I went across to the Wyre Forest with the main target a Wood Warbler which I had never seen let alone got a shot of.

Found the Dry Mill Lane small car park pretty easily,parked up and set off along the old rail track with not a clue where to go but luck was with me as I veered off to the left on a path just past the bridge and soon found a Wood Warbler (good job they have a distinctive call).Yipeeee!!!!! a life tick.Getting a shot was much harder because my little friend hopped around a lot and it was pretty gloomy in the wood. 

Thing went downhill after that because,although I found the right spots to go to,my search for a Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart failed badly.A couple of local birders I met had done no better.Never mind a life tick can't be bad.   

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Marsh Lane again.

It was not raining this morning so I took advantage of the dry weather and went to Marsh Lane again.

Besides the usual suspects I saw a Dunlin on the Railway Pool and a Cuckoo was calling from near the railway line.From the Old Road near the main gate the Garden Warbler was giving one of his concerts from his usual tree,the Lesser Whitethroat showed pretty well but for short periods and a Common Whitethroat showed very well in the bushes.

Click on the pics to get a larger view.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Marsh Lane Visit.

Fed up with staying in lately because of this poor weather I headed off to Marsh Lane after lunch despite the weather still being very poor.My plan was to stay on the Old Road near the car (so I could jump in it quickly if there was a sudden downpour) and search for the Lesser Whitethroat in the spot I heard one on my last visit.

Luck was with me because I found one within a few seconds of locking the main gate.Also the sun came out and my little friend actually came out in the open for a few seconds allowing me to rattle off a few shots.

I then  decided to have a quick look round the reserve dodging the showers.Unfortunately I got distracted by a Sedge Warbler allowing the mother of all showers to creep up on me and soak me to the skin.

Click on the pics for a larger version.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Marsh Lane again.

Friday morning this fairweather birder decided to do what real birders do and go out when the weather is poor to see if anything good had dropped in.Well early on Friday the weather was poor it was very dull and raining so I went down to Marsh Lane hoping something as good as yesterday's Little Tern was there.

Well how did I do? Pretty crap as it turned out.Well as far as any new really good birds dropping in so I'll have to go back to fairweather birding.At least then with brighter conditions you've got a chance of getting some decent shots.

The visit was not a disaster though as a couple of Water Rails showed very well in the marsh from the Oak hide.My first Water rails for several months.The Garden Warbler was giving a concert from it's usual tree near the road gate.The White Wagtail was again on the islands to the left of the Oak Hide and a Cuckoo was calling out from the trees at the edge of the Railway Pool.

Click on the pics for a larger version.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Morning trip to Marsh Lane.

Although it was very gloomy this morning it was dry and not windy so I headed to Marsh Lane after breakfast.It was still dull when I got there so not good for getting decent shots.

The Garden Warbler was on it's branch near the main entrance gate singing it's heart out as usual.I went along the old road to try and find the Lesser Whitethroat again but had no luck and didn't even hear it singing out.

In the reserve I had a Cuckoo fly over the carpark pool but only managed a crappograph.A couple of Reed Warblers gave me a tough time from the causeway screen as they skitted about in the reeds often coming close enough to touch but could I get a decent shot?No way they were far too quick for me.

I think I got some distant shots of a White Wagtail from the Oak hide but I'm not certain it was one I find them hard to ID from Pied Wagtails.What do you think?

By far the best spot of the morning was a Little Tern from the Oak hide mid morning.I believe that there has only been four previously recorded here.Unfortuneately the gloomy conditions and the distance away the bird was resulted in record purposes only shots.

Click on pics for a larger version.   

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Wind Problems.

I did not learn the lesson of yesterday when an afternoon visit to Marsh Lane was ruined by the very strong wind which caused all the birds to keep a low profile or in other words nothing was showing.So what did I do this morning I foolishly went to Brandon Marsh knowing the wind was as strong as yesterday.What a burk!!!!!!

There was plenty of movement and lots of singing but was anything showing?Of course not.The only joy I had with the camera was with a lone Sedge Warbler who tried his best to battle with the wind but it was a loosing battle and a Willow Warbler who bravely sang out on the top of a Hawthorn as the wind whipped the branch violently.How he hung on was a mystery.

I tried again to get a half decent shot of one of the many Swifts that were zooming about but all I ended up with some pretty decent shots of a blue sky.