Monday, 16 October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitcher and Black-necked Grebe at Oare Marshes

5th October 2017

News came through that the long-staying Red-necked Phalarope had now been replaced by a Wilson's Phalarope, so time for another visit to the amazing Oare Marshes. The phalarope and the even longer-staying Long-billed Dowitcher had been showing well next to the road but as we got out of the car a couple of Peregrines swooped low over the flood and scattered everything in all directions. So therefore time for a cup of tea and wait for the dust to settle.

Passerines were represented by a small flock of rather flighty Linnets which seemed intent on feeding low in the grass out of sight, but this female Reed Bunting and male Stonechat were a little more amenable.




The joy of Oare Marshes is that that there is always a great supporting cast when you are waiting for that rarity to show. Whether it be a Lapwing trying its best to balance, Dunlin flying about or the huge confiding Black-tailed Godwits, there is also lots to keep you occupied.










Golden Plover numbers are building up nicely and birds were flying in continually as high tide approached, and there are always a few Ruff around to provide variety.














The large flock of Avocets tend to keep to the back of the flood but are clearly visible when they get spooked and fly around in a tight flock against a dark blue sky, but a handful of individuals feed in the shallows close to the road.






The first of today's targets to appear was the Long-billed Dowitcher. I always thought that these were fairly large birds, but it is not until you get them close to a Black-tailed Godwit that you realise just how small they are.














It was then the turn of the Wilson's Phalarope to fly into the pool nearest the road and be on show for a couple of hours, although sometimes being a little too far away and sometimes so close it disappeared behind the reeds. However, over a period of time it was possible to get some reasonable shots, especially when the sun came out.




















But the star of the show today was undoubtedly the Black-necked Grebe. The bird had been reported showing well close to the near bank of Oare Creek but as we approached a boat was leaving the creek and had pushed the bird to the far bank. We explored the creek towards Oare just to test the two bird theory to no avail, but when we returned to the sluice the grebe was now mid-stream and swimming purposefully towards our bank. Amazingly, it came within 10 yards but was quite difficult to photograph as it was swimming very fast underwater along the bank and quite hard to keep up with. How good is that?








Well, another fantastic day at the amazing Oare Marshes which never disappoints and I look forward to another visit during the winter months.




Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Kingfishers at Lackford Lakes

2nd October 2017

It is that time of year when most of the summer migrants have left and few of the winter visitors have arrived, so off to Lackford Lakes to see the Kingfishers. In front of Bernard's Hide a lone Little Egret was fishing in the shallows on the far bank and at Paul's Hide the first Wigeon of the winter had arrived and were feeding close in.










But back to the business at hand - Kingfishers. Luckily there were several sightings, but the "Kingfishers" appeared to be just a single juvenile female that was doing a circuit of the lakes and appearing periodically at both Bernard's and Paul's Hides.










It posed quite obligingly in front of Bernard's Hide, but fishing here was difficult due to the algae covering the water. However, this was not a problem in front of Paul's Hide and the highlight of the day was when she hovered over the water staring intently at the fish below, and then plummeted down for the catch.

How good is that?