Monday, February 13, 2017

Diary Update #10

🌅  Monday February 13th 2017 ~ Another Monday excursion, this time to Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, once again in the company of Alan Boddington. On leaving the marina while still dark the weather didn't look very promising, with overcast misty conditions and a bitterly cold easterly wind. By the time we met up for breakfast at Rothwell McDonalds around 7am I'd been lucky enough to have a Barn Owl fly across the road while coming through Long Buckby on route, a good omen for the day perhaps!

Stunning Barn Owl at the roadside!
Our first port of call was Willow Tree Fen Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire to catch up with a reported Bluethroat. By the time we arrived shortly before 9am five Red Kites and a stunning Barn Owl next to the roadside were already logged. Even more good news was the weather, which had now cleared completely to produce a brilliantly sunny, if not somewhat chilly day!

1st winter Bluethroat ~ Quite happy only meters away!
Having parked up at Willow Tree Fen we made our way a short distance along the entrance track to the designated 'Bluethroat' spot, marked by a dozen or so birders. In fact it seemed almost immediately on arrival that the target bird dropped down onto the track only yards away! Brilliant views, the bird performing outrageously during our half hour stay! As we were leaving at least twenty White-fronted Geese flew across the reserve, landing way off to the west.

There's a Long-eared Owl in there 👀  
Next stop Deeping Lakes, predominantly for Alan to catch up with Long-eared Owl, I'd personally visited a few weeks earlier. Two Owls today, which as usual were well camouflaged. Good variety of wintering wildfowl on the pools, which included double figure Goldeneye.

Great Grey Shrike ~ Four Mile Bar Bridge...
A drive along the River Welland as far as 'Four Mile Bar Bridge' where a Great Grey Shrike was the next target. Also on offer during the drive along the river were Long-tailed Duck and Great Egret but unfortunately we didn't manage either. However, having crossed the footbridge and circled the preferred area for the Shrike we did manage reasonable views of this very mobile individual. A pair of Stonechat were also very accommodating and seemed to accompany Alan and I during our stay.

A very windswept Red Kite at Eldernell...
Our last stop of the day was at Eldernell, Cambridgeshire. An initial scan after arriving at the carpark produced (7) Crane, Marsh Harrier, (6) Fallow DeerCommon Buzzard, probably our 12th Kestrel of the day but no Short-eared Owls! However, with plenty of daylight left we decided on a walk along the east bank towards March Farmers. A very enjoyable walk with spectacular views of thousands of Golden Plover and Lapwing constantly on the wing, along with great numbers of Teal and Wigeon, plus the odd Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit all being harassed by at least (5) Marsh Harrier. More Stonechat, plus Little Egrets, a perched windswept Red Kite and around 100 Whooper Swan with several Bewick mixed in on the ploughed fields across the bank!

Eldernell Sunset ~ After a terrific days birding!
Back to the carpark in time for dusk, which turned out to be like a Warwickshire birders Away-Day, meeting up by coincidence with firstly Jim and Carol Timms, followed shortly after by Keith Barnsley and entourage, who'd been on a Norfolk jaunt.  A great end to the day, and while here Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, (21) Cranes, (8) Marsh Harrier and a terrific sunset. Unfortunately no sign of any Short-eared Owls, my second dip at Eldernell this year!

Bluethroat ~ Room for another photo!