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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

πŸ“– #28 ~ Away-Day!

🌞25C Wednesday 18th April 2018 ~ An excellent days birding a little further afield today with Alan Boddington and Theo de Clermont, visiting Paxton Pits, Cambridgeshire and Cavernham Heath, Suffolk. We even managed to get back to the home turf late afternoon, where an Osprey, which had been on site at Brandon Marsh since early morning was still fishing on River Pool!

Year-First Cuckoo at Paxton Pits
With an early start, we began the day at Paxton Pits, primarily for Nightingale! A little risky considering there had only been a couple of sightings thus far this year, but we deemed it worth a try. Sadly no sign in the usual territories during our stay, perhaps considering the late spring start the birds are delayed, but a year first Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat and an excellent count of ten Common Terns helped dampen the disappointment.

A further 45-minutes drive across counties into Suffolk we arrived at Cavernham Heath mid-morning, the temperature already in the low 20's and cloudless skies. Parking up at the small roadside car park opposite the woodland trail we had literally only walked 100 yards when across the fields opposite at least two Woodlark could be heard singing distantly. That unmistakable song, sometimes referred to as a 'whistling yodel'. We never quite managed to connect with the birds at this point but Grey Partridge was recorded onto the day-list.

Stone Curlew ~ Cavernham Heath
Continuing along the heathland trail more partridge, this time Red-legged and overhead Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Only 10-minutes walk and we were onto one of our target birds, Stone Curlew! Two birds, reasonably close in just beyond the heather and although good scoped views were obtained photography was a little more challenging, with a now present heat-haze. Interestingly enough by the time we reached the river at the top end of the heath, we still hadn't actually seen or heard any more Woodlarks! However, more additions to the day-list included Yellowhammer and Linnet.

Woodlark ~ Cavernham Heath
I'm a great believer in just taking time out and sometimes it's better to simply hold up and let the birds come to you! Deciding to settle for lunch overlooking the heath this was exactly the right tactic as after a short while two Woodlarks flew close in, one obligingly perching up on the fence post for photographs! Across the heath from our position two Wheatear and a flooded section towards the back held at least four Shelduck.

Osprey fishing on River Pool ~ Brandon Marsh
Heading back to the car park two Redshank overhead, a pair of Stonechat, plenty of Skylarks and a distant singing Tree Pipit, which was not seen. The job was done on the target species so we decided to high-tail it back to Brandon Marsh in the hope that the Osprey was still on site, thankfully it was!!
Oh, and a bonus year-tick on Teal Pool, Green Sandpiper!