Friday, October 05, 2012

Away Day Part 2

Yellow-browed Warbler (Library Image)
Wells Wood Dell is a known migration hotspot and recent reports of Yellow-browed Warbler was the main reason for our visit, although you never know what may turn up, Pete's even had Wryneck here in previous years. Sadly our search for migrants proved disappointing but was brightened by 200/300 Brent Geese which emerged from over the sea wall and a good number of Butterflies which were enjoying an excellent crop of blackberries. Various numbers of Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Large White, Small White and Comma were recorded.

From Wells our next possibility was a Pectoral Sandpiper which had been reported earlier at Stiffkey Fen. This little gem of a reserve is situated east of Stiffkey village just north of the coast road. Parking is available just up the hill to the west of the fen, you then cross to the inland side of the road where a hedge lined path has been provided, keep an eye out for Yellowhammers, Warblers in season and Barn Owls over the meadows. Cross the road by the stream and follow the path up to the sea wall, there is a small House Martin colony on your left and excellent trees and bushes for passerines along the stream. You will start to get views of the fen on your right but it's easier to view from the sea wall. Although Pete and I could see over from here the two shorties Derek and Alan could not, priceless!

In winter if the tide is in you can sometimes see Divers and Grebes in the coastal creeks, a Kingfisher is often around and at low tide estuarine waders can be seen. The fen itself can be excellent during passage times, with Sandpipers, Stints, Godwits and Shanks present. Scarcer species often turn up and Little Ringed Plovers and Avocets also breed. During winter it can be good for Ducks.

Good Numbers of Wigeon
Our second dip of the day after endless scans was indeed the Pectoral Sandpiper but we weren't too down hearted as we enjoyed a terrific hours birding recording various numbers of: Shelduck (pictured above) Wigeon (pictured left), Kingfisher, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Avocet, Little Egret, Sand Martin, Swallow, Linnets, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. Out towards the sea lots of Common Seal on the sand banks and finally our first glimpse of the recently arrived Pink-footed Geese. Firstly, a single bird which flew in calling from the sea, shortly followed by a huge flock over to the west, stunning with the low sun in the background.

One of last years wintering Pinkies!
A final stop for a look at Holken Fresh Marsh just prior to sunset. Here we walked the short distance off the road down to the farmers gate which overlooks the water at a safe distance. A scan of the small Greylag flock on one of the fields actually came up with a single White-fronted Goose among them, plus a Barn Owl quartering the next field, but the best was saved until last. As the sun was sinking towards the horizon the sight and sound of the Pink-foots, here to winter once again and not in any massive numbers just yet but enough to provide the spectacle of the day! With a credible days total of 94 species in the bag it was time to head home to land locked Warwickshire.