Sunday, 16 June 2013

Lakenheath Revisited with Stuart

9th June 2013

After a memorable visit last time to photograph the Red-footed Falcon, I thought I would go back with Stuart to try and get some shots of the Marsh Harriers and Hobbys. The weather forecast was overcast in the morning with sunny spells from mid-day onwards so, as you might expect, it was cloudy all day.

As we set off up the track by the railway a Dunnock was giving a rather half-hearted song deep inside a bush, but then shuffled to one edge just 12 feet away from me, seemingly quite unconcerned. On the other side of the track a Reed Bunting was singing his heart out in the reed bed. Well, I suppose it is that time of year.

At the same time a male Marsh Harrier wafted lazily across the marsh on the other side of the railway, obviously heading of across the fields to get some dinner for its chicks.

We eventually arrived at the viewpoint overlooking Joist Fen and were treated to sightings of several Marsh Harriers including a pair performing food passes, and right in front of us by the pool was a pair of Bearded Tits collecting food for their young in the nearby nest. But the most bizarre sighting must be the three Bitterns flying around in circles high in the sky. Goodness knows what that was about. There was also a lot activity on the warbler front with many Reed and Sedge Warblers and even a loud but well-hidden Cetti's Warbler. I did manage to see it once but not enough time for a photo. The only obliging bird was a Sedge Warbler which was collecting food along the edge of the reeds.

But there were also some unexpected sightings. As if to illustrate what a topsy-turvy year it has been, a flock of 30 Common Terns flew up the river. Were they going home early?

There are two pairs of Common Cranes at Lakenheath and I don't know whether they have been successful in breeding this year. However, one pair are often seen flying across Joist Fen, albeit normally fairly distant. However, I did manage to get this shot on what was a fairly murky day.

But the star of the day was a bird that I had never previously managed to photograph - a Cuckoo. This was a female that was working its way along the bank next to the path, presumably searching for nests in which to lay its single much larger egg. This was an unexpected bonus for the day, but that is the joy of bird photography.

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