Saturday, 14 July 2012

Close Encounters


 

Arriving at Grove Ferry at 5.00 this morning it was a drizzly, mizzling kind of day with a lot less bird song than of late. From the Ramp there were 3 Green Sandpipers, the odd Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler calling, a Turtle Dove flew past and a Cetti’s Warbler called out. A look in Feast hide revealed a single Common Tern while at Harrison’s there were two close Green Sandpipers and a Little Egret.
Green Sandpiper Harrison's hide
As the rain had intensified I found myself staying here for a while adding the first Grey Heron of the day, 60 Lapwings and a passage of 160 Swifts moving west. Six ducks in flight were 3 Tufted and 3 Pochards while 2 Common Terns were hunting a back pool. A flash of feathers sped past the open window crashing into the foliage just in front, knowing it was a Sparrowhawk I watched as it came back and landed on the box cover for the wheelchair users and through the rain splattered window followed this stunning male bird as it trotted towards me and sat in front of my open window less than two feet away. I did not move a muscle, didn’t blink, didn’t breathe just in case it flushed, I could see the little whiskers around the base of the bill as we looked in each other’s eyes before he alighted and perched above me on the corner of the hide. Bloody fantastic. When the rain eased of a bit I made my way to the Water Meadows noting Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat along the way, mostly with young but one or two singing. At the Water Meadows were 5 Redshanks (4 fresh immature birds), 5 Green Sandpipers and 1 Wood Sandpiper. Carrying on to the Tower hide, to escape the rain, a Kingfisher flew across the path in front and a female Bullfinch did the same. There were 6 Common Terns over the Lake at Stodmarsh, 2 Great-crested Grebes on it and a large gathering of Swifts were hawking over Collard’s. Back at the Water Meadows after the rain stopped there were still 5 Green and 1 Wood Sandpiper plus now a moulting summer Dunlin, 68 Lapwings and 5 Pied Wagtails. As I was passing the Oxbow several Swallows and Martins came along the river but little else was to be found. Back on the Ramp around 10.00am and wondering whether to return home early I noticed two high up ‘gulls’ and casually raised my bins just to confirm but, bugger me sideways but they were two adult pale phase Arctic Skuas, Mega.
Arctic Skua over the Ramp

Arctic Skua over the Ramp

They were drifting eastwards and circling as they went. A couple London birders joined me on the Ramp with one chap chasing five year ticks, Whimbrel and Turtle Dove already added but, Garganey, Wood Sand and one other still needed. Two Turtle Doves flew past as we were talking a Bittern flew across the reed bed and a Hobby followed suit. Just as the chap said “Martyn, find me a Garganey and I’ll buy you a pint” I said Garganey behind the Black-heads, perfect timing. On the way home I stopped at Restharrow where the was nothing much on offer except a Cormorant on the near island but, on my visits in the mornings during the week I’ve had Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover and on Friday (13th) the Quail was once again singing, between 5.0 and 5.30am.
Little Egret Restharrow 5.00am 11th

Little-ringed Plover Restharrow 5.30am 11th

Little-ringed Plover Restharrow 5.30am 11th

Mallard Ducklings Restharrow 5.30am 11th

Cormorant Restharrow 12.30pm 14th

2 comments:

  1. Great account Martyn with an imprssive list on what was an absolutely terrible day weatherwise up here.

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  2. Bet you was surprised with the Skua, nice account as well.

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