Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Green Sandpipers at Lemsford Springs

4th August 2018

I normally visit Lemsford Springs in the winter when the vegetation has died down or has been cut and some of the watercress removed from the gravel stream, but today the temperature was unbearably hot at 33 degs C and I needed a nice cool hide to sit in for a couple of hours, so Lemsford it was.

The vegetation had been cut in front of the hides, but was still growing in the stream which meant that the uninterrupted views of the gravel bottom were a little more restricted than usual. The first hide was uncharacteristically quiet with not a single Green Sandpiper in sight, let alone a Grey Wagtail or Kingfisher.

I therefore relocated to the Infocus hide and from there could see three Green Sandipers up the channel that leads to Lemsford Mill. I sat in wait hoping that they would fly downstream to their favourite spots, but to no avail. Then a further two birds flew upstream and landed right in front of the hide.

At first they were both in deep shade, but gradually moved into the sun allowing a few shots in the clear fast-running water

They then moved further back against one of the banks which provided a backdrop of what first appeared to be Blood-drop Emlets Mimulus luteus, but is actually the Hybrid Monkey Flower Mimulus x robertsii (M.guttatus x M.luteus). Pure Monkey Flowers Mimulus guttatus have plain yellow flowers.

But the highlight of the day was when the two birds posed for a group photo.


Friday, 10 August 2018

An Early Visit to Fingringhoe Wick

31st July 2018

I wouldn't normally go for waders at Fingringhoe Wick at this time of year as they are only just starting their return journey and therefore numbers are still relatively low. However, the reason for going today was in the hope that some, such as the Grey and Golden Plovers, would still be in summer plumage. In fact that did prove to be the case, but unfortunately they all kept their distance and photos were out of the question. I therefore had to be content with the flock of Black-tailed Godwits, many of which were indeed in summer plumage.

However, by way of compensation, there were several Greenshank around one of which came close enough for a few shots

Also on the scrape there was a sizeable roost and I counted no fewer than 65 birds, a record count for me at this site.

Fairly quiet in Robbie's Hide with just a few fly-by Greenshank and Redshank to keep me occupied, so time for a quick visit to Abberton before the homeward journey.

Fairly quiet as you would expect at this time of year and a surprising absence of the resident Yellow Wagtails which nest in the adjacent fields and use the Layer Breton causeway banks to feed. However, there was a juvenile Grey Heron feeding in the shallows to provide some close-up shots.

This young bird still had a lot o learn as it lunged into the water with gusto but never caught a fish, at least certainly not when I was there.

Its white cousin, the Great White Egret was resting in a nearby willow overhanging the water which provide some nice opportunites, although some action would have been welcome.

But the star of the show today was the fairly tame Common Sandpiper which would not only let you get close, but would also run towards you. There were 2-3 birds present, but the others were quite flighty and wouldn't let you get within 30 yards.

Why can't all birds be this cooperative?

Monday, 6 August 2018

Red-necked Phalarope at Oare Marshes

28th July 2018

Time for another visit to Oare Marshes now that the water levels should be going down, and hearing on the way down that a Red-necked Phalarope had been found was a bonus. Conditions were absolutely perfect and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits were already present.

Avocets were also well represented as usual but with a lot of activity, often involving what appeared to be paired birds.

It is fairly well-known that Avocets are very protective to their young, and are not at all concerned about the size of the adversary.

There were a few Little Ringed Plovers which mainly kept tantalizingly out of camera range, but also some early Golden Plovers on hand which were a bit more obliging.

Ruff were also starting to migrate, although none of the gawdy moulting males that I managed to photograph at Titchwell last week.

The Bonaparte's Gull, now at Oare Marshes for its sixth year was always present at high tide, but starting to lose its black cap. I wonder where it goes during the summer?

The first signs of autumn migration were the presence of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers, but sadly the minute Little Stints kept well out of range for any decent photos. However the Curlew Sandpipers were more obliging feeding on the mud right next to the road.

But undoubtedly today the star of the show was the Red-necked Phalarope, which was very variable in its appearances. For much of the time it was associating with the large roosting Black-tailed Godwit flock on the far side of the flood, often feeding inside the flock and only briefly popping out to give a distant view, and then it would come into the water right in front of the road.


But at other times, whether by accident or otherwise, it seemed happy feeding in close association with the much larger Black-tailed Godwits

Well, what can I say. Another fantastic day at Oare Marshes and I am sure I will be back in a couple of weeks time.