Been far too long that I had been out birding with mate Dave R and so a day came free this Saturday (Feb 4th) and it looked like being a nice day as well – bonus! The plan was to hit Southern Lincs around the Bourne, Deeping, Spalding area.
Baston Pits was the first port of call to scan to see what was about, all the usual suspects really around here, a quick look around then lead us onto Willow Tree Fen where immediately Dave picked up 5 European White Fronted Geese a group of 20 plus Meadow Pipits flew around close to the car park and landed on the fence and ground near long enough to get a quick shot.
We made our way to the hide / river bank area of the reserve and scanned for anything interesting Dave was saying “how great it would be to found our own birds today” nothing much at this end really a juvenile Mute Swan glided along the waterway after a few Teal and Wigeon took flight when we got to the top of the bank.
After a wander to find 2 of the 3 hides out of bounds due to flooding we made our way back to see lots of mixed Water Foul drive up into the air at the same time, this was caused by a Marsh Harrier in the distance that glided near to the birds.
A trio of Greylags flew over in their usual noisy style.
We chatted to a couple of birders directing them to the White Fronts and then moved onto Baston Fen where the bird count rose a little more with sightings of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great and Long Tailed Tit and other passerines were seen, the fields had plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in them, not many images of these 2 nervy species were taken sadly.
Moving around the fen area gave us great views of a Red Kite (I think my most southerly views in Lincolnshire of this majestic bird) being mobbed by a Rook.
A few minutes after witnessing this the Red Kite was alone; although still keeping an eye out for corvids, doing what they do best, gracing the skies with their presence.
We then moved onto Deeping Lakes NR and along the way super spotter Dave saw (while driving!) a Peregrine in one of the pits in Baston on the deck enjoying a bit of a preen and the sunshine. We would end up seeing 2 Peregrines by the end of the day.
Driving along the road passing another of the pits / fishing lakes we saw a nice pair of Red Crested Pochard in with other ducks.
Upon arrival at Deeping Lakes NR we watched the Pintail from distance and also saw 1 of the 8 or so Stonechat we would enjoy before we got home. No Long Eared Owl’s were seen on the reserve main lake island but we got some views of the Long Tailed Duck and distant Goosander were in the bag so not all was lost here. We then moved onto Deeping High Bank and 4 Mile Bar area looking for the Great White Egret, Great Grey Shrike, Barn and Short Eared Owls.
No Great White Egret sadly but good if distant views of the GGS were had and 5 Short Eared Owls showed well in the same area with some birds crossing the waterway on occasion.
The Owls didn’t come super close the few birders enjoying the free show but close enough to get a nice photo or 2.
Dave and I started to make our way home we saw Kingfisher and a couple of Barn Owls along the way.
Then when stopping once again to scan the flatlands we spotted a large group of Swans 100 plus birds in the not too far off distance, we worked out how to get closer and set off another Short Eared Owl was seen hunting along the roads, 6 seen on the day nice!
We had a couple of goes scanning the group of Swans in the field and soon found out there was Whooper and Bewick’s within the approximately 140 birds, most were Mutes but we could hear 2 types of call to confirm the presence Whooper and Bewick’s and Dave fought against the very poor light to pick out some members of the 2 species but could not fully id the numbers of each within the large over all group, this last bit of action, so to speak happened east of Deeping St Nicholas and we finally found “found our own birds today” as Dave had hoped all along, spotting Bewick’s no mean feat in this light I guess!
During the day we saw a total of 82 species with the top birds in my opinion being; European White Fronted Goose (5), Marsh Harrier, Pintail, Red Crested Pochard (pair), Red Kite, Peregrine (2), Great Grey Shrike, Short Eared Owls (6), Barn Owl (2), Stonechat (8?), Whooper Swan (circa 40), Bewick’s Swan (at least 4) and a lifer for me Long Tailed Duck not forgetting an impressive 30 plus individual Buzzard and around the same number of Kestrel too.
Dave rescued a Coot that was in the road at Baston Pits, it was lively enough biting Dave but could not fly he placed off the road and we both hoped it recovered from whatever had caused its condition.
All in all a belting day out with Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed and I also got to meet a few fellow Twitter folks for the first time face to face too! When are we doing it again Dave?