Sunday, 4 October 2015

My Annual Pilgrimage to Cavenham Heath for Stone Curlews

19th September 2015

Well here we are in the middle of September and time to go on my annual pilgrimage to Cavenham Heath to see the autumn gathering of Stone Curlews. On most breeding sites with public access such as Weeting Heath there is normally just 1-2 pairs to be seen. However, at the Cavenham Heath pre-migration build-up numbers can be greater than 30 and sometimes 100+.

Unfortunately, although they are easy to see through a telescope or even just binoculars, they stick to a ridge 200 yards away from the track. This makes photography quite difficult as, apart from being very distant, the background is quite dark until the sun comes out and then the heat haze takes over. However, having come all this way to enjoy the spectacle, it is compulsory to try and get some shots better than last year.

Mission accomplished so now on to Lackford Lakes to see what they have to offer. By now there was a brilliant blue sky with a couple of Hobbys planing around after the still fairly plentiful dragonflies.

But the stars of today were a couple of Chiffchaffs that were feeding on the edge of some bushes by the Double-decker Hide. The first photo looks like a fully moulted adult, with the remainder being a young bird still in a rather belated post juvenile moult. The legs are not particularly dark but the distinct lower eye-ring and the relatively short primary projection confirm it as a Chiffy.

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