Wednesday, 18 May 2016

THL: Brightness in the Summer Gloom

On Wednesday the weather forecast was for a lot of slow-moving heavy showers so we switched to Tophill Low. The rain started just at the moment we were about to set off. There was quite a lot of birdsong in the car park, as always at this location. A Goldcrest was the most notable songster, followed by a Blackcap. The air was absolutely swarming with Swifts.
Little Ringed Plover - "Leg trembling"
We trekked all the way to South Marsh East were there were plenty of birds of 25 species. The Garden Warbler singing outside impressed everyone with the beauty of its song. We hadn't been there long when a drake Garganey flew in and continued to feed busily for the whole time we were there. Then Brian spotted a drake Red-Crested Pochard asleep on a bank. 20 minutes later a female Red-Crested Pochard with two small ducklings in tow, headed away from the hide in the vague direction of the male. We were serenaded by what sounded like an absolute army of Marsh Frogs. 
Record shot of Garganey
 Record shot of drake Red-crested Pochard
 Record shot of drake Red-crested Pochard (c) 2016 Tony Robinson
 Female Red-crested Pochard & ducklings (c)2016 Aileen Urquhart
There was one very active Little Ringed Plover on the edge of the islands, whilst another squatted on a nest under a metal protective frame. The LRP gave even better views in the afternoon. A pair of Common Terns flew around the site, and settled briefly before they were driven off by Black-headed Gulls.
Other birds present included: Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard, Teal, Tufted Duck, etc 
Little Ringed Plover
 Willow Warbler (c) 2016 Tony Robinson
 Willow Warbler (c) 2016 Aileen Urquhart 
 Sedge Warbler (c) 2016 Aileen Urquhart
 Sedge Warbler (c) 2016 Tony Robinson
We then headed to the back-to-back hides and settled in the hide overlooking South Marsh West. At first this appeared much more quiet, but we soon saw and heard a good selection of warblers including Cetti's, Willow, Reed and quite a showy Sedge Warbler. There were some Marsh Frogs here too. In the afternoon we could hear a Cuckoo singing the other side of the River a Hull, but we didn't see it.
Reed Warbler (c) 2016 Tony Robinson
The 'L'-shaped hide was a little more difficult as a small apple tree and other shrubs are now blocking the view of the small reedbed. An Oystercatcher landed on one of the islands, and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers flew in later. A fine drake Pochard was swimming along the edge of the distant reedbed opposite. 
Egyptian Goose (c) 2016 Tony Robinson
We went to Watton Borrow Pits, but this was the quietest place of all. However, Tony quickly spotted an Egyptian Goose, and Louise a Cormorant. Some Sand Martins and a single Swallow were flying above the water. Again, there were a few Swifts here too.
Wren's Nest

On the return journey we popped into South Lagoon, just in time to spot a Cetti's Warbler leaving the area of the hide, and a pair of Treecreepers in the willow trees nearby. A Little Grebe swam towards us in the pouring rain.

We also had a quick look in North Lagoon, but this had silted up a bit, so there wasn't much to see here.

In all we saw 50 species in the morning, with the Cuckoo bringing the tally upto 51 in the afternoon. Everyone was quite impressed with the variety of birds on offer, on what was in effect a miserable weather-wise.

The Wren's nest was spotted after the deafening song of a Wren as everyone started to use the ticket machine before the start of the afternoon class.

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