Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cheesy grins for jammy birders

We left Cheddar YH to go in search of the Common Cranes that have been released as part of the Great Crane Project. En route we passed the entrance to Greylake RSPB Reserve, so thought it rude not to pop in. There were loads of people gathering, and it turned out to be the start of an organised 'Crane Walk'. We were in the hide when the masses started to pile in so we bailed out PDQ. It turned out that too many people turned up to go on the walk, so it was abandoned.

We continued with our plan & went to the location given to us by the RSPB chap we had met in Cheddar Gorge.No sign, so stopped in a car park near Stathe. There was a 'Great Crane Project' vehicle there and we spotted 2 people with scopes nearby. It was the occupants of the vehicle complete with tracking equipment. They had found the flock & said we could follow them, which we did. They led us straight to the spot for the best view of the Cranes. There were 30 of the 33 visible, some way off but a great sight even though we can't count them on the Year List as they are introduced birds.

Follow that pickup.....
The cranes are the tiny white dots behind the trees, honest.
Then to Swell Wood RSPB. Not much there, but some nice views & an interesting heronry. The Herons were already incubating according to the RSPB chap in the hide.

Next stop Dorset. Birdguides was showing an influx of 1500 Chiffchaffs & Willow Warblers, plus some Redstarts & Ring Ouzels at the Top Fields on Portland Bill. It sounded like something worth seeing so we headed straight there. We parked up near a building that looked like a prison, but I think was some sort of leisure/business/conference centre. Sure enough, the bushes were alive with Willow Warblers & Chiffchaffs. It was quite a sight, loads of them just flying up to catch bugs & landing back in the bushes.

Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff hedge
We walked around the headland but didn't manage to find any Ring Ouzels or Redstarts. We did see lots of Stonechats, a few Wheatears, a Peregrine & lots of Blackcaps.

Looking at distant unidentifiable auks

Our route took us past the Observatory, so we dropped in & now know where to go to look for the Ouzels & Redstarts tomorrow.

We dashed off to Wyke Regis to look for the Richard's Pipit near the Bridging Camp. We failed to find it just before Christmas & failed to find it again today, but at least this time we didn't freeze in the process. We may have seen a Redstart but unfortunately someone walked past it on the path before we got a good look & frightened it off.

Mary had a few new Year birds, I didn't have any and was going cold turkey when at about 1830hrs 2 Sandwich Terns saved the day.

Mary now on 79 + 1 sub

I'm on 155 + 1 sub

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