Sunday, July 05, 2009

First steps

My apologies for the prolonged absence. Helen has her arm out of the cast now, though it's still broken - we actually stopped on the way home to buy a splint - the doctor who saw her didn't even check the injury when discharging her...

I took the opportunity of sending my 100-400x lens in for repair and cleaning, with a 7-10 day estimate of repair, at the end of which time they phoned me to say they couldn't access the optical unit so it needs another one, so another 150 quid and another 7-10 days...

At least with both Helen's arms 'free' we can start walking again and with only the super-telephoto lens to rely on decided on a quick 24 hour trip to Minsmere, probably my favourite overall single spot for birding in the UK. As usual our strategy was drive close, early night, early alarm and get a lot done and seen before the flocks of humans arrive. We always visit the Island Mere hide first as you get to walk through the woods when the deer are about and it's frankly usually a magical experience. However this time for a change we decided to pop into the North Hide and then head clockwise around the scrapes. The walkway out to the beach hide abounded with warblers. Some Sedge Warblers, with their 'ecstatic' song:

Reed Warblers were also still singing but in a more subdued voice:

Even though there were plenty of fledged juveniles around too:

We got our best views yet in the UK of Cetti's Warbler along the causeway:

And the odd Whitethroat was singing prominently

A brief glimpse of four Bearded Reedlings was enjoyed, as was this brief encounter with a female Cuckoo, though distant and not a very good picture you can just make the bird out in the tree:

She appeared to be feeding rather than looking for target nests. Out on the scrape there were many more Sandwich Terns that we've seen in previous years, about the same quantity of Common Terns but fewer Little Terns. A Roseate Tern had been reported but we dipped out on that one. We did however get a chance to do some gull learning. We've had a good hard look at the guide book and believe this first one to be a Baltic species (Larus fuscus) Lesser Black-backed Gull, due to the yellow legs and the lack of contrast between the main upper-wing plumage and the tail, a Western European Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus graellsii) would have pink/grey legs:

Whereas we think this is a Yellow-legged Gull, again because of the yellow legs but this time the contrast between the upper-wing plumage and tail is significant:

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