Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bird Race and May Update

This was going to be a brief post about a couple of birds seen since my last post about our 24 hour bird race mid month, but it appears that post never updated and was lost. So i will start with a brief (ish) summary of that first.

On the 13th May 'Team Loon' (Gary, James, Lis and myself) woke early leaving Norwich by 1am. As this was a formal competition with other team, we dispenced with our normal 'within Norfolk' rule and headed for the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire. As it was dark it was alabout what we could hear. It was amazing the number of birds calling at such and early hour, but amongst the commoner species we heard both target species for the site Corncrake and Spotted Crake. 19 species mainly heard as we headed back to Norfolk and Santon Downham.

Lots of woodland bird were soon added and a few heard birds upgraded to seen. The Mandarin didnt fail us showing well with duckling in tow. Lesser Redpoll and Cuckoo were goid bird too see but no sign of the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Nearby Tree Pipit and Woodlark saved us some time so we headed off to Lynford. Checking Lynford Water then the arboretum. 2 Spotted Flycatcher were nice to see a bird often missed and just as we were leaving a singing Firecrest took the tally to 71 and it was only just past 8am.

We headed south into Suffolk adding extra birds on route before we wasted a bit to long looking fir and failing to see Golden Pheasent. Great Livermere was our next stop. We initally struggled to find the lake but added Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge while 'lost', finding the lake we added a few gull species and Gary found us a Lesser Whitethoat but not the hoped for Black-necked Grebe. Not to far away was Elvedon and a White Stork which took a while to locate but eventually went on the list. Still in Suffolk but looking across the boarder at Lakenheath Fen we added Glossy Ibis, 2 Black-winged Stilt, Common Tern and Hobby before again moving on.

We were already maybe a hour befind our ideal schedule, but a Yellow Wagtail on route was bird 100. Arriving at Welney my collegues were fleeced for enterence fees and then we proceeded to see very little missing most of the hoped for birds as the site was so dry. We did add summering Bewick and Whooper Swan and Red-crested Pochard. We headed north towards the coast, Flitcham another 'banker site' failed to deliver with only Med Gull and Red Kite added. Hunstanton cliffs gave us a bonus 5 wader species as well as the targeted Fulmar. A detour to Holme for a spurious Pied Flycatcher only wasted time. The now annual Dotterel were in the heat haze at Choseley and we finslly arrived at Titchwell at 4pm.

Behind on time and species, Titchwell started well with a Norfolk lifer for me in the carpark a singing Wood Warbler. Brent Goose was species 120 seen on route to the beach. Sandwich Tern and Velvet Scoter the pick of a brief sea watch. We had too pick up the pace. A flyby stop at Holkham added Great White Egret and great views of a Bittern in flight, but no Spoonbill or lingering geese. The day was petering out we made the bold decicion too head for Minsmere as locally sites would only hold the odd extra species.

It was 7.20pm we arrived at Dunwich Heath we soon added Sand Martin 130 before adding Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. From the cliffs we added Barnacle Goose and Kittewake, before hearing a Water Rail. Arriving at Minsmere the light was starting to fade. Short-eared Owl was a bonus before we heard Bearded Tit and added a few species from the east hide. Caspian Gull was 140. I managed to pick out a distant Stone Curlew in very poor light. In the dark at island mere we added calling Little and Tawny Owl but no Savi's Warbler. Back at Dunwich we heard a Nightjar and then a Nightingale at Westleton Heath. A brief listen for Quail on the way too the finish line in Halesworth failed to add a final bird so we finished on 145 species. A cup of tea at the HQ of The World Land Trust was wecolme, here we meet the 2 offical teams. Being a affiliated 'virtual team' it was an honour to be invited back for the presentation and to share a glass of bubby with the winning team. We also go to see the very special trophy a Ne-ne egg signed by Sir Peter Scott.

A brief update for rest of May, while boat fishing off Bacton on 16th I got great very close views of Gannet a more distant view of probable Sooty Shearwater. Sunday 21st a Honey Buzzard was seen while driving back from Great Yarmouth. 28th I visited the patch near Mundesley in the hope of a fly though Bee Eater, Osprey or Honey Buzzard with all seen along the coast. But the best bird was only a Stock Dove. What will June hold.

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