Monday, 27 May 2013

Bitterns, Falcons......and Rosemary

10th May 2013

Cousin Rosemary had never been to Lakenheath before so we set off with a forecast of a dry day with sunny spells and a moderate breeze. In the event it was dark and cloudy with a wind that increased to Force 5, and we had to endure a number of heavy showers. However, Rosemary and I are made of strong stuff so we continued on to the main viewing watch-point overlooking Joist Fen.

We were treated to a fly-past by two Common Cranes, a number of booming Bitterns and Marsh Harriers exchanging food in mid-air but, surprisingly, not a single Hobby, one of the Lakenheath specialities. It was now 2pm so we decided to have a slow walk back along the river to see if we could hear the first Golden Oriole of the year, as they were expected any day now. We had only walked a few yards when a Bittern arose from the adjacent reed bed and flew high towards Joist Fen. If only the light had been a bit better.

We continued on our way and paused for a quick listen by the poplar plantation between Joist and New Fens, but no orioles calling. However, by now a small gaggle of telescopes and cameras with large lenses were all trained on New Fen. As we approached I enquired what they were looking at, to which came the response "Hobbys". I lifted my bins and after a quick scan found 3-4 Hobbys hunting for insects close to the trees on the far side. Hobbys are slaty-grey on the back, but one was much darker, slightly smaller and had a silvery appearance across the primaries. I tactfully pointed out to them that one of the Hobbys was in fact the male Red-footed Falcon that had been around the area for at least a week.

So despite the weather it turned out to be a good day with a couple of record shots of Red-footed Falcon for me, and Rosemary's first Red-footed Falcon, Bittern, Hobby and Common Cranes.

If the falcon hangs around I suspect I will be back for some better shots.

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