Went up to Marston Vale CP to look for the Siberian Chiffchaff's there. I waited for the rain to ease then got there as it stopped, heading straight for the sewage treatment site. There were quite a few vocal Chiffchaffs present but eventually I found the Sibe's. One was a real grey bird with vibrant green wings and clean underparts, it was associating with a Chiffchaff fairly closely and so gave good comparisons. The other Sibe was more browner with less green markings. I was hand holding a smaller lens outfit due to a bad back hence the quality, the greyer bird was the one that Steve Blain had found originally, but had proved to be some what elusive since, so I was glad to of recorded the bird at least.
Once I had worked my last night shift I headed home and grabbed my camera gear then headed onto Aspley Heath once more, this time hoping the Dartford Warbler would show better. In fact it proved more bloody elusive than the previous visit, it showed on a couple occasions and flew in front of me briefly and then that was that!
As before my attention then veered off to the local residents, a flock of 12 Crossbills were present around the heath edges. On the first visit I forgot to mention that I flushed a Woodcock from the heath.
Once again a barking Muntjac could be heard close by, and this time I saw it twice, before retreating into the gorse out of the way of Sunday dog walkers and Horse riders. This might of been another reason why the Dartford kept its head down, as the activity began to pick up and the horses became flustered as they moved past me in cammo gear, obviously not quite making out what I was!, then followed the loud talking(shouting) from the riders, seemingly bemused that a photographer was there, as if I had been suddenly dropped to earth!!
I decided enough was enough and the Dartford was not going to show anymore, a group of 12 Meadow pipits moving around the Heath was the final addition to the mornings outing and then I was homeward bound, tired.
This is an old image of the Dartford Warbler at Sandy RSPB, back in 2005 I think, shame I didn't get views like this at Aspley Heath.
My Dad and I travelled to Aspley Heath to connect with the Dartford Warblers there. The day started dry and bright but unfortunately the sun only lasted half an hour before the grey clouds blanketed the sky, with the temperature dropping too. There was a pair of Green Woodpeckers that were really active and unusually staying quite close.
My Dad and I thought we both had quick glimpses of one of the Dartfords, but couldn't be sure, and I thought I heard a brief call. But after 2 and a half hours we decided to head back home, and as sod's law would have it, all of a sudden one of the warblers sat up on the gorse further away calling briefly before darting back into cover.
We then headed back for another go at it, I was able to view it on a few occasions but not good enough for a photo, it stayed very low where the gorse met the grasses, it gave itself up a couple of times for my Dad to connect then we decided to once again head home. If it hangs around then I may try another time.
Took a walk around Derek White Eggs this morning, I was hoping that the Whooper Swans were still present from the previous day but unfortunately there was no sign. It was very quiet with all activity on the main lake, quite a few lapwings and and a single Little Egret alongside a couple of hundred Greylag geese. The only songbirds seen were a few Goldfinch,Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail and Starling.
The weather forecast was cloudy and dull, but the next few days looked like more rain moving in so Sarah and I decided to make do with a grey but dry day and head to the Ouse Washes RSPB. Our target was a female Northern Harrier that was present. The journey was disrupted to say the least due to complete stand still on the A14, which we just about avoided being stuck in, so we made our way around the back roads getting there just before midday. The Northern Harrier had been reported that morning so we were eager to get to the hides. I knew that the views would be distant at best but hoped for better views than I had of the Northern Harrier in Norfolk the other year.
It wasn't long before we had a distant view of the Northern', it quartered the grass fields to the far side of the washes. But you immediately noticed the orange underparts to the bird, it really stood out. It kept to the rear of the washes and would regularly disappear behind a small wooded area. There was a ringtail Hen Harrier showing as well as a few Marsh Harriers. The hide had a nice flypast from a small group of Whooper swans whilst awaiting the Northern to reappear.
When the female Hen Harrier appeared it seemed the Northern Harrier would not be too far away. These next shots are distant cropped in shots but show the interaction between the Northern and Hen Harrier.
They spent a lot of time in a grass field, where they would appear to play hunt together.
You can see the Hen Harrier below (left) carrying what we all thought was a rat but turned out to be a clump of dark weedy grass.
The Northern Harrier then would fly in and steal the clump of grass as the Hen Harrier would then land close by.
It was great to watch the play interaction between the two birds. Even when they left to quarter the nearby marshes, they would return to the field and restart the playing.
At one time it brought an interested Marsh Harrier in, thinking they had prey it pounced towards the Northern harrier before departing after finding there was no food.
On just the one occasion whilst the Northern was chasing the Hen Harrier, did it venture closer for a couple of seconds, it was at this time I cursed myself for leaving my bean bag in the car, but I managed to grab a couple of shots whilst resting the lens on the hide window. Compared to the Norfolk bird, this time I had good views of this lovely Harrier, and a new species for Sarah too. The weather and light was drawing in and it felt colder, the Harrier didn't look like coming closer and as it disappeared behind the wood again I headed off home, hoping the traffic had cleared.