Friday, 11 July 2014

Everything from Short-toed Eagle to Rose-coloured Starling

It's the end of my exams! I won't have to talk about them and you won't have to listen to me talking about them for another whole year. Since I've finished I've already gone on three different birding outing, twitching and general birding.
On Saturday a while back, I drove down with Chris, Brendan and Dave to Ashdown Forest, where the long staying Short-toed Eagle had taken refuge. Whilst down there we saw it eat 3 separate snakes (one of which was in fact a slow worm). I don't think this bird will be in any rush to make the trip back over the channel to Spain. Especially after their crushing defeat in the world cup.
We had on off views of the bird, however it never made a fly by and was always very distant. Obviously this proved difficult when it came to photography, however I tried my best, but nothing came of it. The sun was blazing for most of the day and I was ready to drop by the time it struck midday, we still soldiered on and did a short unsuccessful raptor watch for Honey Buzzard. The day ended at around 4 o'clock.
On Thursday I made an evening visit to Chobham Common, with the usual, me, Chris, Paul and my brother. We arrived a little after 9 and walked straight to the spot, the rain had dampened our spirits for any chance of Nightjar (apologies for the pun). But they were soon lifted once we heard our first one churring closely to Chris's usual spot. Not long after we had short flight views of over 4 Woodcock which quickly brightened the mood. Waiting at the spot we were eaten alive by midges which we had mixed feeling about, they provided food for our target bird, but we provided food for them. At around 21:30 our first Nightjar of the evening showed itself and perched in a tree not to distantly, this provided decent scope views and we had now seen both our target species, the pressure was off. The rest of the night was a great bit of entertainment with Nightjars flying only a few feet away from us. We left and arrived back home at 23:30 with high spirits and bite marks.
The plan was to twitch the Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands, however the plan fell through when the likely hood of seeing it seemed small and the trip daunting. Instead we leveled for something a little less mega.
A usual early morning start for me, Chris and Paul. Swallowtails at Strumpshaw fen and Rose-coloured Starling at Lowestoft were the target species. After a short wait we connected with the Starling which had decided to have a little nap. We then cracked on when a report of a Red-backed Shrike came in on the pager, the trip to the Shrike only took about half an hour, we were presented with a large open expanse for us to cover (Winterton dunes) and search for the Shrike on our own. Luckily we were joined by another birder who managed to locate the bird and get us on it to. We stayed with the Shrike for a little longer than the Starling, before pressing on to Strumpshaw. At Strumpshaw we managed to see a load of hawkmoths including Convolvulus, Elephant, Poplar and Eyed. Other moths which had been captured included Buff-tip, Ghost and Peppered Moth. Looks like I'm going to follow my brother into the dark pit of moth trapping. No Swallowtails were seen for many reasons including, the wind was to strong, it was raining, there was no sun and it was getting a little late in the year. However, we did see a late cuckoo still calling which was a nice addition to the day list. On the way home we stopped off at a Stone Curlew sit were we encountered 4 adults and 4 Juveniles.

Red-backed Shrike

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