Sunday, 31 May 2015

Cuckoos and Cranes at Lakenheath Fen

22nd May 2015

Almost the end of the third week in May so where to go? The coast will be fairly quiet by now so better to go inland somewhere around the Brecks area. It was therefore decided to go to Lakenheath Fen with the target species being Bearded Tit, Bittern and Crane. I decided that The Wash was worth a miss so walked up the southern trail eventually arriving at the New Fen viewpoint.

The whole area was very quiet with no Hobbys or Marsh Harriers, although a Bittern kept reminding us of his presence by booming which was quite loud because of the wind direction. A Kingfisher was fishing from selected vantage points around the pool, although was always a little too distant for a decent shot, but did manage to provide a reasonable composition on a Phragmites stem.

Continuing west along the track the entertainment was provided by numerous Whitethroats, all staking out their territory from a suitable vantage point, although one individual seemed to more happy in the security of a sallow.

Hobbys were also on the wing but because of the warm weather which had driven the insects high into the sky, were too high for any decent shots. However,one bird did conveniently land in the top of a poplar in West Wood, but with the compulsory branch in front of it.

At Joist Fen one of the pairs of Cranes were on show. They were reported to have two young but only one was visible at any one time so let's hope they are both still present and correct and avoid the foxes until they are old enough to fly.

But the star of the show today was one of the many Cuckoos that had been calling all day. This particular individual came and perched on a nearby bush by the river and then performed a fly-past before settling once again on another tree. This was particularly rewarding as it is only the second Cuckoo that I have photographed, the first Lakenheath Fen!!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Warblers, waders, wildfowl.......and Otters!!

15th May 2015

Time for another visit to Lackford Lakes to try for warblers and possibly a Kingfisher. Unfortunately on arrival we were informed that the first Kingfisher brood has not been successful this year and so we set off to try and find some warblers between the Charlton-Webster and Bill's Hides. You don't have to go far at Lackford to find a Chiffchaff and today was no exception. This bird showed quite well, but in true Chiffchaff fashion always managed to be partially obscured by a couple of twigs. Otherwise, fairly obliging.

However, even more obliging were the Reed Warblers in front of the Reed Hide which, instead of singing deep inside the reeds, were coming out into the open to collect Phragmites head fronds for their nest.

Time now to move on down the trail to the lakes with one of the local inhabitants keeping a watchful eye on us. When we got to the summer trail a Tree Creeper was collecting food for its fledged young and did allow a shot as it scurried along upside-down under a horizontal bough. This was a bit of a challenge as the light was varying from sun to shade within seconds.

The next port of call, was the new Steggall's Hide, which has always looked full of potential but is still "maturing". Much better today, with a selection of subjects for the camera. What was most noticeable was the number of Black-headed Gulls collecting material for their nest. Ten years ago this was unheard of but now common-place.

Also on parade were the Great Crested Grebes that are so typical of this sort of mature lake. Tufties are never far away and this pair were posing for a few shots as well as the male displaying his amazing purple iridescence. Then, as if to show off, a bathing and wing-flapping display, which I am sure was purely for my benefit.

There were also a number of Egyptian Geese around but, instead of keeping their distance, came very close presumably because of the hide. This allowed a number of close-ups to be taken, including this second one down of a super new hairstyle.

Another of my favourite birds is the Lapwing which, although loved by everyone, is under-rated in terms of its diverse colouration. Every time the bird moves by just a few degrees the colour spectrum changes according to the direction of the light.

And finally, just so the passerine birds were not neglected, a Pied Wagtail put in an appearance. This hide is already proving its worth and I am looking to great things in the autumn.

So that is the end of our visit and therefore a brisk walk back to the car and a well-earned cup of tea. Well, until someone said they had just seen an Otter dive on Hawker Pool. After a few seconds wait the Otter, one of a pair, popped up again, allowing some rather distant photos to be taken. Having got the photos home and viewed on a screen it was clear that the Otter was carrying a Signal Crayfish, of which there are many in the lake. This was a particular high point for me as this was only the second Otter I have seen in the wild and the first I have photographed.

Well, another most successful day at this fantastic reserve. All my visits over the past couple of years have resulted in some good photos of one species or another and today was most memorable. I think it will be safe to say "I'll be back".