Sunday, July 31, 2016

Minsmere - Western Swamphen

A lovely morning to have escaped the carnage of London for a day out in the wilds of the Suffolk coast.  We headed to Walberswick, taking in some fresh air with a walk along the beach and round the local nature reserve.  A Whimbrel was seen on the flashes by the beach and a Grey Seal was wrestling a decent catch a couple of hundred metres from the shoreline.

There was a target, inevitably, and the search for my first UK Honey Buzzard continues to elude me.  A bit late for the morning sighting, we returned mid-afternoon but with no luck which was particularly frustrating as it had been appearing around this time during the course of the week. A couple of Hobby were present here along with a juvenile Woodlark, and plenty of active Yellowhammer.

However, the 17th century St Andrews church in Walberswick really is an impressive building and was worth a wander round.

A few birders had assembled at the Westwood Lodge site (all waiting for their first HB sighting) when someone mentioned that a WESTERN SWAMPHEN had been seen at Minsmere.  I wasn't interested as it really didn't sound credible.  This potential first for Britain just a couple of miles down the road had to be an escaped bird, so I continued my search for the Buzzard.

During this time, I kept updating my Birdguides account and checking Twitter reporting regular sightings during the afternoon when around 4.30pm I caved in and headed round to the reserve.

There were plenty of birders there, and heading to a suitable vantage point, I immediately connected with the bird as it scampered across the back of the pool behind the South Hide and out of view.

A wait of around 20 minutes and it was then seen much closer in allowing a couple of panicked photos.  A really surreal moment, and funny how my luck swung round this time.

Quite an eventful day ended at the excellent Eels Foot where a Barn Owl hunted in fields behind the pub.

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