Early Start Bags a Local Rarity. Bev's 27th April 2013.

 Am I glad I made an early start to Bev's (Derek White Eggs) today. I was hoping for maybe Black Tern or that the Whinchat was still around. The weather started good but there was plenty of cloud moving in, and it didn't feel too warm either. As I got out of the car I took a quick glance across the lake as I do before getting kitted out. Lots of Swallows and Martins low down so a good sign rain was on the way, what looked like a Little Egret from a distance, resting up in the marshy area, time to get sorted and start my walk around. Well it didn't take long to notice that on nearing the lake, that little egret had thick black legs and now at a different angle wasn't that little....Spoonbill, I've got a bloody Spoonbill, so I said to myself again as I clicked off a record shot of it sleeping, I've got a bloody Spoonbill! 
 I carefully made my way around the side and slowly made an approach with cover in front and behind me. It didn't even wake up or move, obviously too early for it. I then let Steve Blain and Bev know it was here, and it wasn't long before Steve had arrived and was viewing the bird from the gate, Bev returned my message and came down to connect which was good. For nearly 2 hours I stood in one spot gaining some shots and getting very cold, wet feet. I carefully backed off and met up with Steve, Mark and Jim among others before heading around the site to check on the other areas. 

 As I returned some time later the Spoonbill had become more awake and was feeding along the southern side. I made a slow approach and kept up against the hedge line, then the rains came and the birders disappeared, leaving just me getting soaked to the skin. The Spoonbill headed off along the waters edge feeding so I took the opportunity to move to where it had originally been in the hope it would return, it eventually did and I grabbed a few shots before it moved in between the nearby grasses to rest up again. What a morning, and with another Swift seen and a Hobby to the list I squelched my way back to the car and home to warm up.

Belly Flopping Squirrel takes a drink! The Lodge. April 2013.

 After a fantastic morning at Bev's my Dad and I stopped off at The Lodge for a couple of hours. We headed straight for the hide in the hope of a Crossbill or two coming to drink. It was its usual fairly quiet state and a few species were seen notably a couple of Lesser Redpolls still present, a Squirrel that flattened itself out as it took a drink. It looked more like a Flying Squirrel and flown in and belly flopped the ground, whether the stone was cold and cooling or maybe it thought it might fall in! who can say but it looked amusing at the time. Then I spotted a group of around 8 Crossbill fly across towards the hide, but unfortunately they decided to visit the rear pool and keep out of sight and camera range. A couple of the males were a striking red in colour, really standing out and as they flew off I counted at least 10 birds. I finished the birding day with a Willow Warbler which I had heard further afield but now it had come to feed in the brambles around the pool.

"The Good, The Bad and the Stonking". Bev's April 2013.

My Dad and I took a early morning walk around Bev's, the weather did not start too bright but there seemed plenty of birds around. There were a few small groups of Swallows and Martins moving over and in one small group I noticed a single Swift feeding among them, definitely for the "GOOD" having these birds return to our skies. New additions for the year list were soon added with a few Sedge Warblers singing their heads off around the site, and a group of 3 Dunlin circled the main lake twice before heading to the fisheries. The Kingfishers were still in residence along with the Oycs, but no sign of any Arctic Terns or the Redshanks. My Dad counted around 10 Common Terns actively displaying with caught fish.

Well BAD for smaller birds but I think the Sparrowhawk gets a raw deal and blamed too much, this lovely male bird sat up in a hedge for some time allowing a careful and slow approach to have his picture taken. He only moved off when a very close fly by from a Song Thrush gave him cause to chase, I think it actually made him jump as it flew in front of him, no doubt he was focusing further afield. 
The real BAD was spotted when we walked adjacent to the river Ivel. As my Dad and I moved to the riverbank I noticed something swimming towards us, and upon seeing us it veered towards the opposite bank...a Mink. Bev had mentioned them before but I had not seen one till now, and not good news for wildlife wherever they are. It hid up amongst the riverside vegetation and then moved under water to the bank we were standing on but out of sight due to the overhang where it made its way along the river away from us, very sneaky.

Moving around the site, my Dad and I picked out more Sedge Warblers and then added Common Whitethroat during this phase, but best of all was when I spied a bird fly onto some bramble some distance away. I thought maybe a Stonechat, which would of been new for the site, it gave that sort of impression until  I got a better view through the bins...a cracking Male Whinchat...STONKING. Another new site addition and what a bird, it was actively feeding and singing too. Although elusive at first it gave itself up for a few snapshots. What a fantastic morning with more new site add ons and my Dad picking out a pair of Little Ringed Plover on the main lake as we headed back to the car, maybe the "Old man" brought me some luck!..perhaps I'll let him tag along again sometime. 

A Cold Morning brings out the gloves again..and I get a 'White Arse!!'. Bev's April 2013.

 Typically after saying "No gloves needed" last visit to Bev's, I had to put them back on for this visit, there was a cold feel to the early morning start and greyer than it had been. Still I hoped that there would be some new year additions as a lot of stuff had been reported through. I was greeted immediately by Swallows in and out of the outer buildings, a good start. And on nearing the lake the sight of a couple of Terns lifted the spirits. 
 The Tern sat up on the post although distant at this time showed a dark tip to the bill so I assigned that to a Common tern, new for the year but I was hoping for a Arctic, there had been sightings nearby so I was glad to see 2 Arctics further across the lake, a lovely sight to see these birds return and worthy of having their snapshot taken once again.

 Whilst watching the Terns I heard a distinctive call that I had been waiting since the start of the year to hear...The Kingfisher was back and joyfully the male was then seen carrying a fish to the female with which to woo her, excellent a 4 month wait and the pair were now here and courting. To add to the excitement, deep breath...calm down..., a Yellow Wagtail flew up from the grass and overhead, a NEW site tick and if not enough good numbers of Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martins passing overhead adding to the year list. What a morning this was turning out to be. 

 But the morning only finished better.... now for my 'White Arse', no not me personally before you click off in  disgust... the apply named Wheatear ( known across counties as White Arse due to the flashy white rump)
The bird had flown from the grasses in front of me and landed on the fence post nearby..I was now frozen to the spot, heavy breathing ensued as I slowly moved the camera into position for a record shot!..this was the 2nd new site tick of the day. The bird posed beautifully for me and then flew atop a large bush near the northern lake. I followed as it had been using the gravel tracks to move along, so I positioned myself nearby hoping it would once again come back down, it was then that my attention was drawn to a call from nearby... a continuous reeling coming from some bramble bushes, oh my god surely I now had a 3rd site tick..a Grasshopper Warbler, then I saw a LBJ (Little Brown Job) fly from the bushes and out of sight towards the main lake.. then the doubts and thoughts set in, could it be a Gropper, no doubt about the call but now I want a picture, so hopefully it will still be around next visit. What a morning it turned out to be.

"Finally No Gloves Needed". Bev's. 10th April 2013.

 With a change in the weather it looked like spring was finally here, the temperature had a warm feel and I even saw a heat haze! Dare I say winter is behind us, according to the weather forecasters it is going to be a heat wave for May and June!!! That remains to be seen, they cant get the next days forecast correct let alone 2 months ahead! What a safe job they work in, doesn't matter how many mistakes you make they're still there the week after. 
 Anyhow back to birding, and with April 10 days old I was able to get to Bev's. I filled a whole page in my notebook with species, and the behaviour of everything had a purpose, the Coots were already on nests and Reed Buntings were disputing territory all over the place. The pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were still in residence on the island, surrounded by large numbers of Black Headed Gulls on the water. The Oystercatchers were still here but no sign of the Redshank.
 There were 6+ Little Grebes present on the lake, but only a single Great Crested Grebe, which I approached closely whilst it was submerged in one of the lake corners. Such an elegant bird, but one I expected to of seen paired up, hopefully next visit. Walking around I noticed that quite a few Song Thrushes were present still, always flushing a couple from the lakeside vegetation, along with Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe seen again.

 And with the brighter and warmer weather came the insects, with plenty of small flies around the lake edges and a total of 3 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies seen, the day was completed with a great finale when at the end of the walk whilst talking to Bev, a single Swallow flew past us and over the lake, Winter must be finished.

Last Day of March at Bev's.

 The last day of March and I headed out to Bev's on a cold but dry sunny morning. What with the recent weather I hadn't been able to get around the lake, mind you there was no movement of birds due to the extreme conditions. So this morning I was hoping to add a couple of common species to the list. On arrival, just as I closed the car door, a Blackbird swooped past me and into the hedge! closely followed by a male Sparrowhawk, just missing out. It perched briefly in a hedge close by and then took to the air searching for the next opponent.

 The temperature had been dropping overnight recently and there was a hard frost, half of the main lake was still frozen over and the water levels had not decreased at all. The 2 Oystercatchers were still present and very vocal, I cant see where they'd be able to nest though and a worry for waders to come.

 As usual at some point or other a small group of Snipe took to the air as I approached, but one very close looked smaller and so I clicked a few images as it flew off. On review I had what I thought, a Jack Snipe. The smaller size and shorter bill length showing well in the silhouetted shots, I took a shot of a Common Snipe for comparison with the bill length (2nd image below).

 On the last stretch of the lake I heard a wader call and looked around to see a Redshank fly across the water to the island in the centre, another new year addition and a sign of new birds moving through, if only the weather will improve a lot more should be evident as April starts. The site year list now moving ahead to 55 species.