Wednesday 26 July 2023

A day out in Essex

I said I'd make more effort to get out and about so with a free day today I headed up to Abberton reservoir for first light. I found yesterdays Wood Sandpiper with a Green and four Common Sandpipers. A Kingfisher perched in a distant Willow, the same trees that held breeding Grey Heron, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and a single nest of Spoonbill that held four almost fully grown chicks and kept both parents busy feeding them whilst I was there.

Common Sandpiper

Grey Heron

Spoonbill nest top left, Cattle Egret nest bottom right

Spoonbill nest also in the picture nesting Cattle and Little Egret along with Grey Herons.

The Slavonian Grebe showed well from the causeway too and was great to see in it's summer plumage.

Following a tip off I headed to the car park at Fingrinhoe Wick where I watched two Osprey first sat on posts out on the salt marsh then both in flight ironically headed in the direction of Abberton.

On the journey home down the A12 I took the short diversion to Hanningfield where I found plenty of Red-crested Pochard and the newly arrived Ruddy Shelduck. On the wader front just 13 Black-tailed Godwits and some Lapwing but it was good to see breeding Pochard on site.



The Ruddy Shelduck amongst the Red-crested Pochard

Year list now 208

Finally got a picture of the vixen visiting my garden

Thursday 20 July 2023

Black-winged Kite at Horsey in Norfolk

There I am bemoaning my lack of time and opportunity just two days ago after the first twitchable Black-winged Kite was reported on Monday evening and then low and behold I find some time and see the magnificent bird at Horsey but as is the usual diary format of my blog let me tell the story.

Monday I took my father in law to a hospital appointment to have his pacemaker checked, he then returned home and had dinner with us and didn't leave until quite late in the day so off I went to bed without checking my phone to see that a Black-winged Kite had been reported at Horsey in Norfolk. "seen well between 19.30 and 20.45pm" but the news hadn't landed until 21.56pm. I woke to find the news and rang the Jims to let them know but again had a hospital appointment with my father in law at 11am and a doctors appointment with him at 2.30pm so getting away on Tuesday was going to be difficult or impossible. I then watched as news came out that the bird had been re-found roosting at Horsey and many birders were enjoying early morning views. I guess these guys had a little more information about it roosting to be as determined to be on site for first light and even in the right place to view it as the news service hadn't released this information.

The news then went very quiet with the last sighting at 10.41am as the bird flew high north over Trimingham some twenty miles away with everybody assuming that's the bird moving north and away, but bring on Wednesday morning at 9.59am and extraordinary news that the bird had returned to Horsey. I called the Jims and arranged to pick them up but I had the small matter of a doctors appointment for myself at 10.40am. With the appointment done I picked up the Jims and news was now coming in saying no further sign. The weather forecast was poor with heavy persistant rain expected but we still pushed on arriving at around 2pm. The bird hadn't been and the road down to Horsey windmill was full of parked cars and people were plotted up on every spare pull in scouting the area for the bird. We parked up at Horsey Windmill as requested on the news services and set up scopes on the mound by the cafe enjoying a cheesy scone and coffee as we waited. The weather forecast was correct as we took cover from the rain and the chance of seeing the bird seemed to have disappeared. Cold, wet, tired and disappointed we left for home around 7pm only to hear news as neared home that the bird had returned to the roost it had chosen on Monday evening.

Straight away I told the Jims I would be returning Thursday morning first light and whilst Dad dropped out Jim was up for it and we set off at 3am this morning. We arrived at Horsey Windmill shortly after 5am and walked down the track to the roost location which took a good twenty minutes or so. On arrival we found around forty or so birders had beaten us to the spot and it was difficult to find a place to stand but we eventually settled in and waited for the mist to lift which it did to reveal the bird sat on top of a distant bush. Chaos ensued as people panicked to get a view which was still difficult as light was poor and the bird was sat with its grey back set against a grey sky but slowly everybody settled down with most very happy to help others get a view and indeed helping those new arrivals to get on it. 

After an hour or so with much wing stretching and preening the bird took off and flew high away to the north before turning and heading back towards the windmill where it sat on a telegraph pole to enjoy a snack before flying west and then being lost to view and not seen again until being spotted in Felixstowe Suffolk this evening as I type this diary blog post. Next stop Essex?

A great day catching up with a few familiar faces and with the added notable birds of Great-White Egret, 9 Cranes, and 3 Hobbies. I'd like to think this is the start of me finding more time for myself again but I fear that may be a little hopeful. 

Year list now 206

Life list now 439

Tuesday 18 July 2023

No Black-winged Kite for me

I haven't blogged since May and that's because I've had nothing to blog about.

My caring/domestic/family duties continue to dominant my life with birding very low down on my list of priorities. It isn't a lack of desire as I still very much long for the benefit being out birding brings in terms of both my own wellbeing both mentally and physically and of course of the challenge to add a few new birds. I missed the Grey-headed Lapwing earlier this year as it was just too far and would have taken too much of my time and yesterday I missed the Black-winged kite as I was busy running my father-in-law to a couple of hospital appointments. This one hurt as it was just a couple of hours drive away but I just couldn't get there.

I did get the camera out yesterday to dust the cobwebs off but only sitting in the garden.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Kite is refound and I do get an opportunity on a day I have no commitments and maybe just maybe I'll get a days birding soon.