A couple of hours out proves fruitful. April 2014.

 My first Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Common Whitethroat of the year. The Whitethroat was singing away right next to the car but did not show until it moved along the hedge therefore I was unable to grab any pictures. The Yellow Wagtail put in a few appearances but tended to stay just that bit too far away, the heat rising off the muck heap did not help either with a lot of hazy images being binned. I located the Wheatear further away on a mud heap, but it decided to move onto the muck heap I had just been at!
It wasn't long after I re-positioned myself that it started to move around feeding, and as some of the images show, there were plenty of insects around!
Here is a gallery of images from a lovely couple of hours out.





















MEGA. BAIKAL TEAL. FEN DRAYTON.

MEGA. BAIKAL TEAL.
 During the last weekend of March, news of a Baikal Teal at Fen Drayton appeared. At the time I was working nights and so that made it difficult to get up there. But with news of it still being present late Sunday I decided to go straight from my last nigh-shift to Fen Drayton. I got home and with my wife Sarah awaiting my arrival, a quick scramble to get my camera gear ready and we were off. The weather was quite grey when we arrived, a low layer of cloud stopping the sun coming out, but it was dry at least, which is more than can be said of the tracks! In a couple of places it was waterlogged and muddy as hell. Still we pushed on and entered the hide, being the first ones there.
 With my camera resting on the bean bag I set about scanning the lake. It wasn't long before I had picked it out, off the spit of land some distance away, but unmistakable, what a beauty even in the grey light. As birders slowly started to arrive, the bird moved up onto the bank of the spit just out of sight as it laid on the grass. Every now and again it would move it's head enabling new arrivals to glimpse this rare beauty.
 After some time it decided to move off the spit and then kept loyal to the stretch of water parallel to this point of land where it had been resting up. It never really ventured any closer, as it zig-zagged back and forth catching insects on the waters surface. It was loosely associating with the Wigeon as they also fed in the same manner, and if they were not present then it kept to itself. I had previously connected with the Baikal Teal at Minsmere some years ago, but his was a new one for Sarah. After a few hours and the likelihood of it approaching not seeming a safe bet and more birders turning up we departed. Once home I contacted my Dad and informed him of our outing, knowing that he also had not seen this species, and after a short discussion it was going to be another early departure for me the next morning. 



 Day 2.
After some much needed sleep I again set off for Fen Drayton this time with my Dad. I also arrived prepared with wellies this time! 
On arrival at the hide a birder was already present, and news greeted us that he had not found it. That dreaded feeling then goes through you, well my Dad anyway, I had seen it. The birder present had travelled up from south of the '25 and he had said he was about to leave before we arrived as with no sign and having to go to work didn't think this was going to be a successful trip. But as we scanned around, joined by another birder visiting for his first time here, a flock of Wigeon took to the air from the nearby grass bank, just about out of sight due to the tall reeds surrounding the hide, and then the shout from myself and the last birder in....Baikal ! 
 Thankfully it was still present and had obviously been mixed in with the Wigeon, I knew it could hide up well, as from the previous day. A happy vibe was now present and probably glowing from outside like a bowl of Ready Brek on a cold winters day. It flew a couple of circuits with the Wigeon before alighting the water in pretty much the same area as it had first been seen by Sarah and I the day before. It then proceeded to ......sleep!
 After some time and all of the Wigeon leaving the Baikal on its own asleep, it started to feed up and down the same stretch of water off the spit of land. Actively chasing down flies on the water and picking them from the air, keeping company with just the Wigeon it never ventured any closer. 




Another successful trip and the weather was a lot brighter making this bird look even more stunning. Whether this will be accepted, who knows at the moment, but why shouldn't it be, fully winged, no rings present, no up-ending only feeding on insects,keeping company with Wigeon or itself, and not asking for bread. Talk of it being the Lancs bird that has moved down and attained full adult plumage, who knows, but how pucker does it's CV have to be to be pucker?
 It was nice to take in some of the new arrivals whilst, albeit quick marching, to the hide and walking back to the car on both days. There were Chiffchaffs singing everywhere, Blackcaps in good numbers and also showy Cetti's, but I either didn't have the camera to hand or they did not pose long enough for a shot, mind you I haven't seen Cetti's pose out in the open as much as I did on the second trip. And as my Dad and I packed our gear into the car boot, I heard a loud rustling noise from behind the viewing screen, so I approached alone and as I viewed through the screen I saw a fox trotting off with something in its mouth, unbelievably it was a Great Crested Grebe it was carrying off! I presume the grebe was nest building/prospecting too close to the bank and it was had, the fox wasn't wet so it didn't go in after it. I thought I might of seen a Sand Martin or Swallow but alas not one, but a great couple of mornings out.









Sightings. March 2014.

Not having been out since up to the Lodge, I have only noted wildlife from the garden or work unfortunately. One night in the garden I counted about a dozen Common Newts in the pond, a couple were mating. Buzzards have been a plenty overhead and the odd group of Fieldfare have flown over calling. I had a Red Kite from the back garden, not sure if that is a first or not, but I am still awaiting a definite sighting of a Martin or Swallow, I am sure I caught a sighting of a Swallow but it did not re-appear from behind the houses, so it was a glimpse at best. At work on nights I have noticed a few moths starting to fly at night, and a Twin Spotted Quaker was rescued from a path and placed on a wall. Last night I found a Early Thorn, which are a lovely moth, more reminiscent of a butterfly settled on the wall. Off to the garden now to look for a Swallow.
Early Thorn

The Lodge RSPB. March 2014.

 With the weather certainly improving and the forecast of a bright morning, I headed up to The Lodge reserve in Sandy. My main quarry was Crossbill's, with the report of some Parrot Croosbill there I thought I'd give it a go. The weather was lovely and on approach to the Hill Fort I heard Crossbill, so it looked promising. The Ravens were very active and their loud raucous calls emanating from the wood. 
At times the Ravens were hidden away among the tree tops, or posing against the sun, nevertheless still providing a great silhouette. I managed to find a small gap between the branches to grab some images of one perched up surveying the area.

Then it became bolder and sat atop a pine and started to give it some! During this time I had a single male Crossbill fly over and out of sight, but the raucous Raven was company enough.

 As the temperature rose the raptors started to climb, and a handful of Common Buzzards circled over. But still no Crossbills. A nice bonus were 2 Brimstone butterflies that passed.


Approaching the 3 hour mark I started to think about heading home, not before I grabbed a few images of Sparrowhawk, I hadn't noticed the female before she departed without a photograph, but the male circled overhead before moving on, displaying to the nearby female. I saw another Sparrowhawk on the way back to the car park, grabbing another couple of flight shots. Even if the Crossbill's didn't show it was an enjoyable morning.