All posts by Dave Roberts

Not a bad week in Lincs.

Mon 24th.

It kicked off on Monday afternoon, when news came through of a black stork at Dunsby fen. Arriving about five, I had just missed it, it had flown off from its favourite spot. There were plenty of birders around and people began to spread out down the fen in search, though access away from the road is very limited. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I connected with the stork. Trev Lee had been working in Northants and detoured this way home. Only a few birders were looking now, (the ones that still needed to see it, I bet the others were celebrating at home and going through their brilliant photos!). We decided to walk alongside a hedgerow to see if we could get any better views of the dyke, when all of a sudden there it was, flying low, right in front of us looking monstrous. It must have been there all along, close to where people were standing. We lost views as it flew behind trees but were well happy. Never did see on the deck. It later roosted in a tree for the night. 

Tues 25th.

Checked a couple of local sites. Denton res was quiet, nothing of note, really. Saw a marsh harrier hunting near Syston. At Marston a juvenile peregrine was over the area for fully ten minutes. 16 curlews, 4 green sands and a grass snake seen.

Weds 26th.

Went over to Freiston shore for the evening. On Tuesday Richard Doan had found a very rare marsh sandpiper here. He only had it for a matter of minutes in the morning, obtaining photos and video. It was seen again later in the day.There was no further sign on weds. I watched the res from about 6:30pm to dusk, enjoying plenty of wader action in the nice light, before a heavy shower. Best birds were 2 curlew sands, (one wearing a yellow flag, but I couldn’t read it), wood sand, spotted redshank, 26 greenshank, ad med gull, ruffs, common sands.

Fri 28th.

I had planned a full dayer at the wash, heading back to Freiston again rather than the more popular Frampton. What a good decision that was. The reservoir was the first place to check again, it was nowhere near high tide and only a few waders were on it compared to the other evening; 2 wood sands and a curlew sand, several common sands etc. Then I noticed it!…. it was the marsh sand! A lovely little wader, with a very quick feeding action. I managed a record shot on the phone, through the scope. I only had it for about ten minutes, after taking the initial photo I observed the delicate wader through bins and scope. My plan was to take more pics but I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been pre-occupied with getting photos of a bird, only to look back and think ‘hold on a minute, I havn’t really watched that bird at all. Anyway it flew off after a while and, as far as I can tell hasn’t been again since. I felt really lucky, but then I was the only one there.

Later, a trek to the Witham mouth, where lots of curlews and whimbrels gathered. Surprisingly few waders really, just after high tide. About 150 sandwich terns fished and rested on the rocks along with a red-breasted merganser. A couple of green sands were on the shooters pool. Taking the sea wall route back, all the remaining puddles and ditches were checked incase the marsh sand was there, no luck but an early whinchat was feeding from along one of the fence lines.

Two new birds for my Lincolshire list, only my second sighting of both of them in the UK.

 

Patchblog

After being in the doldrums for a while, Marston has picked up a bit of late. A few waders have made things interesting, though the scrape just will not drop sufficiently to draw birds in. The level falls a bit during hot weather but the moment it rains, fills up again. There have been up to five green sandpipers. On the surrounding fields maxima of 18 curlew and 50 lapwings can be seen. The oystercatchers have one surviving chick which is doing well.

Pied and yellow wagtails are around in numbers, both look to have had a good breeding season in the area with many juveniles recorded. They sometimes gather on the turf fields in the evenings, my best count being c85 pied and c50 yellows. A couple of grey partridges were the first I’ve seen for a bit.

A turtle dove came to drink from the scrape one evening, what a joy! A barn owl (or two) shows occasionally late on. Odd hobby and red kites regular. Last week the Lake Windermere ringed greylag goose PZB put in an appearance for the first time since Feb. Heaven knows where it gets to.

On the 20th I was watching a buzzard when a small falcon came into my bin’s field of view. Merlin! Wow! I watched it for a good few seconds thinking to myself ‘am I sure?, its bloody early!’, but yep,   it’s jizz, behavior and appearance left me in no doubt. It was lost to view as it went over the fields, putting up a small bird, twisting and turning. It was an all brown bird, juvenile or female.

Yesterday evening I stopped off at Barkston picnic site and walked along the river towards Syston. A field was being ploughed and lots of gulls had homed in on it. I had been expecting them in the area as lots have been seen at nearby Kilvington. They were fairly distant but four yellow-legged gulls were picked out amongst the many lesser-black backs, common and black-headeds. I had been hoping to add ylg to my Marston account for the year so headed off there. On arrival I was gobsmacked-loads of gulls were loafing on the car park field. This was a great treat, they stayed here resting and preening until it was almost dark, before heading off in the direction of Kilvington Lakes. At least nine yellow-legged gulls accompanied around 650 lesser black backs. Interestingly a couple of little egrets flew in and joined the gull flock.

Trev Lee arrived to watch the gulls and we finished with a look in the hide, it was almost dark but we could see some bats flying. They were quite large and appeared to be moth catching above the poplars and over the fields.

Woodhall Airfield and around.

It was raining as I arrived, that fine stuff that somehow seems to get you wetter than the heavier stuff! Loads of sand martins had been pushed in, must have been 250-300. There were lots of juveniles amongst them, great to observe as some perched on barbed wire to preen and rest. Such cuties. Got quite a few pics.

Three very smart ruff showed well from the hide, along with a ringed and a little ringed plover. Two families of Egyptian geese were doing well. A summering wigeon was here and odd common terns, presumably from the nearby Kirkby colony, kept coming and going. A hobby dashed low across the far end of the reserve, a fox ran across the old runway. I saw two different marsh harriers within a couple of mile of here.

Aptly, a Lancaster bomber and some spitfires came over the site. Prince Willy was at nearby Coningsby for a memorial event. I promise this is the only non-birdy photo. They can fly but they don’t sing and they ain’t got beaks!Kirkby on Bain demanded a look. Breeding birds looked to be doing well, with avocet and common terns, along with other water birds having young. On the tip there were hundreds of large gulls. Despite a good look through I couldn’t find a single yellow-legged gull. There must have been over 1,000 herring gulls. Lesser black-backs approached three figures with perhaps 20 great black-backs. A buzzard was scavenging at the tip also.

I made my way home via Ancaster. Regular followers will know about my interest in aberrantly plumaged birds and I found another as I drove through Sudbrook. It was a striking looking collared dove-one of those ‘creamy coffee’ leucistic types you very often get with birds lacking colour pygments. Collared doves are quite pale birds to begin with but this individual immediately caught the eye. I think it’s quite rare in pigeons, I havn’t seen many.  My pics don’t really do it justice, they are over-exposed. The light was very poor and my camera was wet. It was a cracker in real life. After watching it for a while, (local residents were wondering what the hell I was doing) another ‘normal’ collared dove flew in and copulated with it.

A quick look at Ancaster pits resulted in not a lot, but a hobby was hawking nearby.

Notts Bee Eaters

Friday. Made the short trip over for this great live show, it was only 29 miles from Grantham, traveling on the Melton route. Up to seven European Bee-eaters had been seen in the quarry near East Leake. Five were on show today, giving great views, constantly flying out to catch bumble bees, occasional dragonflies and butterflies. Two birds were seen copulating more than once. It’s a great spectacle, even though the viewing point is a fair distance away. I would urge anyone to go for a memorable day out. Parking is a fiver a car and everything is well organised.