Sunday, October 10, 2010

A warm weekend - Sunday

Having enjoyed the scenes at Frieston on Saturday (particularly being overflown by a huge flock of Black-tailed Godwits) we thought we'd aim for a different experience on the Sunday and headed to Holme and the NWT nature reserve there, to check for migrants brought in on the East winds. The later tide also meant we could arrive after dawn. It was a beautiful morning - much warmer than it should have been for the time of year and with a bright orange sunrise. We were surprised as we walked into the dunes on the beach to see more waders whirling around.

I took advantage of their proximity and the light to take some pictures that hopefully give a sense of both the experience and indeed the range of species present, including Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Oystercatchers, all in good numbers:

The odd bird (this a Black-tailed Godwit) flew close by:

And it wasn't all waders, a small flock of Brent Geese flew over-head, honking their way inland to feed:

with one left behind:

I also shot some videos of the waders moving around and flailing around which you can access via these links (I tried for hours to load them yesterday to no avail, hence the links):

Back on the dunes we encountered loads of more common migrants including a Northern Wheatear:
As well as outgoing migrants, there were the seasonal arrivals too, such as Redwing:

Other birds moving through include Redstarts:

And Goldcrests:

Having walked the boardwalk, the beach and the woods, we stopped at the house on the reserve for a cup of tea, and to watch more new arrivals, such as the Bramblings, here accompanied by a Chaffinch:

From Holme we decided to head back to Welney, the sun was out and I was hoping for better pictures than on Saturday.
After lunch and from the Buxton hide we enjoyed watching a pair of Golden Plover bathing and preening, and yes that's a Pectoral Sandpiper in the foreground:

Here's the Pectoral Sandpiper seen from the front (flanked by Lapwings), with it's distinctive upper parts markings:

On the roof of the main hide a Pied Wagtail was browsing for food:

At the Lyle hide a pair of just fledged Barn Swallows (they were still in the nest on Saturday):

I moved away from the birds and hung around for an adult to come in to feed them:

And of course, last but not least from the observatory wing alongside the main hide, the Wilson's Phalarope:

I hope it pops in to Northants soon :)
We had a great 'recovery' weekend and got home feeling much better, my cold receding and our sleep somewhat replenished.

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A warm weekend - Saturday

We'd planned a weekend in Norfolk to coincide with the Spring Tide, with a particular eye on Snettisham. On Friday evening we made really good progress from work up to Boston, Lincolnshire, but then it went astray. Apparently 7pm on a Friday counts as 'night' for the poor souls of Boston, so ripping up the town centre for re-tarmacking then is fine. It took us 2 hours from Northampton to about 1 mile from Boston city centre, then an hour and a half to do the next 2.2 miles to our hotel. Advice: never visit or travel near to Boston unless you really do have to...

Anyway a properly early start saw us at Freiston Shores RSPB at 7am ready to see what got pushed in.

We weren't disappointed by the birds. The weather was another matter. Forecasts of a late summer blip were disappointed by heavy cloud and onshore Easterly winds that left it feeling very cold (especially to those of us with man-flu).

A Little Grebe seemed unperturbed:

We watched lots of different groups of waders swirl in and settle then headed out onto the wall, whereupon another large group of waders were flushed-up (by a tractor):

They then settled onto the reserve:

As well as the Knot, Oysercatchers, Grey Plovers and Black-tailed Godwits, a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits relaxed during the high tide:

We enjoyed our visit to Frieston but wanted to get through Boston before the traffic picked-up again, so headed South around 08:30, toward Frampton Marsh.

Frampton Marsh is an up-and-coming reserve, however on this particular day it was bereft, as were we. At a loss I checked my BirdGuides bird sightings list, having subscribed on Friday to a free week trial. It showed a Wilson's Phalarope at Welney WWT which was only around 75 minutes away so we headed there next.

Good decision :)

First up a distant but very definitely Wilson's Phalarope:

They are frenetic little waders, with a needle bill and very pale. They breed in North America with just one or two being seen in the UK each Autumn. Oh and a tick too :)

As well as the Wilson's, another US wader, though this time one we've seen before (apparently they now breed in Scotland) was this Pectoral Sandpiper:

Having enjoyed a hearty lunch in the cafe, and a refreshing cup of tea, we wandered out again to the Observatory, spotting this Barnacle Goose amongst the Canada's:

It did look like it thought it belonged. After Welney we went to Sculthorpe Moor, a small but perfectly formed wet-woodland nature reserve, which is one of our favourite spots. We were looking for Kingfishers but didn't see any. However we did see lots of Coal, Willow and Marsh Tits on a walk aroud the reserve. A stoat frolicked in front of one hide, giving us our best ever views. Shooting started close-by however so we decided it was a good time to head to the Premier Inn at King's Lynn for an early dinner.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Cape May - Monday

Our last (half) day in Cape May promised to be a washout but in fact proved the forecasters wrong and stayed dry while we were there. We headed therefore back to the hotspot to see what was around. A small flock of Red-breasted Nuthatches was foraging in the trees:

A Northern Parula was browsing for food:

Very pretty birds even without full breeding plumage:

A Northern Cardinal male chipped at us almost continuously, obviously bored with all the disturbance of his territory:

On the elm tree by the visitor centre, a Magnolia Warbler:

And nearby Cape May Warbler:

and Black-throated Blue Warbler:

Together with the Black-capped Chickadees who kept returning to the feeders maintained by the centre:

From the visitors' centre, we popped over to the Hawk Watch to see the Dickcissel again, capturing this Peregrine Falcon flying over:

and then on to our last stop, The Meadows, which held many fewer birds but one of which was this juvenile Black Skimmer:

Which very obligingly took off to give us our first opportunity to see the species feeding:

We really enjoyed our visit to Cape May. The weather hadn't been ideal either for birds or humans but we still saw a lot and met a lot of really good friendly people. We will definitely be back. An early June visit feels like a good time, that way we should be able to see some of the breeding species we've yet to see, like Prothonotary Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak to name but a few...

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