Sunday, July 27, 2014

Black-winged Pratincole

A week ago I was at Minsmere RSPB looking at my lifer Collared Pratincole. Today I was at the Ouse Washes RSPB in Cambridgeshire looking at its much rarer cousin: BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE! This species  is classified by Rare Bird Alert as a 'mega' which seems fitting as it should be in Romania, Ukraine, South-west Russia and north of Kazakhstan. 

It was a 2 1/2 mile walk from the visitor centre to the site. Luckily the bird was showing well but distant. After a while the bird took flight showing the dark underwing and lack of a white trailing edge. It disappeared for a while, joining swallows off in the distance only to return hidden in a flock of Starlings. 

Other species of note: Ruff (57), Black-tailed Godwit (6), Lapwing (100+), Green Sandpiper (2), Wood Sandpiper (1), Dunlin (5), Redshank (6), Little Ringed Plover (1), Snipe (5), Greenshank (2), Little Egret (19), Red Kite (1), Marsh Harrier (1), Kestrel (3) and Yellow Wagtail.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Black-winged Stilt

It has been 27 years since Black-winged Stilts have successfully bred in the UK - Norfolk 1987. The only other record is Nottinghamshire in 1945. This year there have been two nests; one at Cliffe Pools in Kent and the other at Medmerry RSPB Reserve in West Sussex. Click for more information

My first visit to Medmerry (20th June2014) was unsuccessful in that I didn't see the stilts. The news was that the parents had walked the young off the nesting site a few hours before I got there. I spent two hours looking but ended up throwing in the towel as the birds were obviously hunkered down. 

Today, however, I was successful and patience paid off as though the birds were distant, I did get some reasonable scope views. Initially I could only see one skulking adult but eventually the whole family group (2 adults and 3 young). On three occasions all flying around the reserve together.

Other species of interest: Yellowhammer, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Little Tern, Little Egret (18). 32 species recorded.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole (Black-tailed Godwit background)
A flyby Kingfisher over the house this morning sent me on my way. 06:00 am departure put me at Minsmere RSPB Reserve just before 09:00 am. My target bird was an annual rarity; Collared Pratincole. This species was a lifer for me; so convincing myself to go for it was no problem. Thanks Rare Bird Alert ! On arrival I caught up with the 'gen' and went directly to the East Hide where it had been seen last. 

Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit
 The hide was pretty packed but I managed to squeeze in and began to scan. The bird had been seen but was hidden behind some vegetation.  Whilst waiting for this rarity to make an appearance, I panned around to see what else was present.

Little Tern
There was a great selection of waders to scan through: Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and Redshank. There was a raft of nearly 50 Little Gull. Little Tern, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern + during the vigil - 3 fly-over Bittern!

Little Gulls + Black-headed Gulls
Luckily a Magpie decided to make its way around the lagoon and pushed the target bird out into view: Collared Pratincole in the scope! During the next 40 minutes or so the pratincole made a few flights around the lagoon; showing off its field marks and confirming identity.

Collared Pratincole (center)

Collared Pratincole
 En-route back to my car I picked up a few more species including Bearded Tit and Green Sandpiper. Total species recorded: 60

Sand Martin colony