Monday, August 4, 2014

RSPB Ouse Washes - Black-winged Pratincole and RSPB Titchwell

Back onto the hunt for new birds (conventionally known as twitching) it was The Prof that once again prompted a trip up to the Ouse Washes.  This was exactly the same location that I had visited for the American Wigeon earlier on in the year.

Black-winged Pratincole site - Ouse Washes RSPB near Pymoor

The reason for this particular visit was to connect with a reasonably long staying BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE currently on a scrupulous UK tour, that was first seen in Northumberland in mid-June.  Almost seven weeks later, we were enjoying the bird hawking insects with itself being pursued by hirundines presumably mistaking this adept aerobatic as a threat from a small falcon. The wader was quite distant but since the initial sighting, the pratincole flew round and across our standing position into a pond obscured by ragwort.  With the sun still behind us, and still early enough not to have been affected by heat haze, these were reasonable views.  Around fifteen minutes later, the bird was back up and feeding, this time providing prolonged and satisfying views with it's uniform dark upperwing, black wing-tips, and darker underwing clearly visible in the morning light.  The flight behaviour was less erratic than previous encounters of Pratincole, with short glides before picking of an unfortunate invertebrate.

Having seen the Collared Pratincole only three weeks ago at Minswere, the BWP was a much darker bird, at times resembling a Green Sandpiper and lacking the pronounced chestnut underwing and white leading edge.  The Pratincole family group is just a stunning species, and having seen two of these in the last month has been a real privilage.

Also on site were around 20 Ruff, four Black-Tailed Godwit, and several Marsh Harrier.

Having had our fill, we made haste up to Titchwell RSPB.  A Hobby flew across the A149 en route.

The highlight was an adult Spotted Crake seen skulking within the reeds just to the right of Island Hide.  It had been particularly elusive but made the odd brief appearance out onto the muddy fringes before darting back into cover.  The bird was well marked, dumpy, and a swift mover as it skipped around the reeds Messi style.  Only my second ever and far better views than the first was great to see.  Also within this reedbed was a typically shy Water Rail.

Titchwell just blows me away.  There were waders everywhere, and so close too.  The views from the hides with favourable light are just magical.

A juvenile Wood Sandpiper that fed in the corner of Freshmarsh was the pick of the waders of which there were hundreds of Avocet, Redshank, and Black-Tailed Godwit.  Amongst these were 30+ Dunlin, 25+ Ruff, a single Little Stint, four Turnstone, five Spotted Redshank, five juvenile Little Ringed Plover, a juvenile Ringed Plover, and a flock of 15 Sanderling flew along the beach.

juvenile Little Ringed Plover 

Spotted Redshank

An impressive number of 17 Spoonbill was my highest ever flock in the UK but numbers have been even higher with the congregation of adults and the fledged young.  An adult winter Mediterranean Gull, and two Common Gull sat among the flocks of their larger counterparts, and a couple of juvenile Yellow Wagtail flew in.

From here, a brief stop at a field just to the south of Choseley Drying Barns yielded butterflies.  The main target were of the 4-5 Clouded Yellow seen amongst the wild flowers,  Uncompromising and determined flyers, they seldom settled but their rich yellow upperwings and black wing-tips were clearly visible as they whizzed past.

The area was alive with butterflies.  There was a single Painted Lady looking very fresh as were the Red Admiral, Peacock, and Small Tortoiseshell.

Site near Choseley for Butterflies

Clouded Yellow

Below is a montage of waders seen today that include footage of Wood Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank.

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