Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minsmere - Collared Pratincole

A super stunning day today.  It was warm with unrelenting sunshine and a refreshing sea breeze.  Just perfect.  Birding highlight was the COLLARED PRATINCOLE that finally gave itself up mid-morning flying across the scrape viewed from the East Hide, and then tracked high distantly where it fed voraciously on insects.  After around twenty minutes, the bird returned and inconveniently tucked itself behind one of the far islands.  An hour later, it was back up again and carried out an identical feeding sortie before returning back to the scrape predictably hiding itself once again.  A truly stunning bird with its chestnut underwing prominant against the brilliant light, the white leading edge clearly visible on long pointed wings as it flew erratically close to the hide.

Also on the scrape were a number of waders including 21 Dunlin, four Greenshank, three Green Sandpiper, four male Ruff, 50+ Black-Tailed Godwit, 50+ Avocet, five Ringed Plover, two Spotted Redshank, five Redshank, seven Common Sandpiper, a juv Little Ringed Plover, and a single Whimbrel.  There were also over 40 Little Gull present, most in summer plumage, eight Little Tern with young, and six Sandwich Tern.

From the South Hide a surprise Ruddy Duck was my first for a couple of years.  Along the tracks, parties of vocal Bearded Tit were seen well with young, and a single moulting drake Wigeon fed on the scrape.

Highlights were far from restricted to avifauna, moreover the diversity of lepidoptera and odonata provided  personal affirmation of the abundance and diversity of wildlife within this area.

An impressive total of 21 species of butterfly including my first PURPLE EMPEROR - actually a couple active over the tops of oaks seen occasionally gliding between the wooded fringes.  A White Admiral was seen briefly on the road out of Minsmere disappearing into the woodland, with Purple Hairstreak, GraylingSmall Copper, and Essex Skipper the other highlights.  Sadly no Scarce Tortoiseshell but I imagine more appearing over the next few days now that identification has become clearer to the untrained.

Ruddy Darter and Common Emerald Damselfly were odonata highlights on Minsmere.

Black-Tailed Godwit 

Flock of Dunlin 

 Ruff

Track towards visitor centre 

 Puss Moth Caterpillar

Small Copper

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