I'm now blogging from the comfort of home, having returned from my wanderings yesterday. Postings were prevented by dodgy signals & lack of time. This is a round-up of the highs & lows of the last few days of the Mystery Tour.....
Ever since we've been birding, Mary & I have been meaning to visit Minsmere RSPB on the Suffolk coast. We finally made it on Friday & we weren't disappointed. It's a mixture of woodland, wetland, heathland & coast & has a large visitor centre & lots of hides.
As we were driving into the reserve I mentioned that it was nice to be going birding rather than twitching for the day, at least we couldn't dip again. At that moment we came across a couple of cars parked up & several scopes & cameras all pointing in the same direction. Of course we stopped to investigate & there it was, a Glossy Ibis. After 2 failed twitches in Dorset & Essex, we had come across one by accident!
In the reserve we started off by walking East along the North Wall where we saw a couple of Bearded Tits, followed by several Red-throated Divers a few minutes later from the beach. So far so good, all new birds for Mary.
|Minsmere looking South from Dunwich , with Sizewell in the background|
|Mary doing some relaxed Whinchat hunting|
We easily found the spot where the Stone Curlews had been seen. We scanned the field for a while & had just taken a photo of the location where Stone Curlew had been (as usual) when we found an oddly shaped stone....
There were 2 of them & we managed to get quite good views of them from the road. Mary even managed to take a video with her Lumix down the scope. We were 2 very happy bunnies & celebrated with a late lunch before heading back to the Visitor Centre.
We headed to the South Levels to look for the distant Garganey, which of course we couldn't find, but we did find a rather nice Spotted Redshank. It was changing from Winter to Summer plumage so looked quite different to the one I'd seen on the Exe back at the start of March.
A raptor in a tree in the distance dropped down into the reeds before we could identify it. As we walked back towards the Bittern Hide we came across a couple watching a Sparrowhawk eating a Snipe. They'd seen it fly into the edge of the pool with the Snipe & hold it under the water for a couple of minutes to drown it before tucking in! It was probably the same bird we'd seen drop into the reeds. We watched it have tea, eating the only Snipe we've seen on the trip. I don't think we can put it on the list though.....
As we walked into the Bittern Hide a chap was just leaving & kindly pointed out a Bittern that was just emerging from the reeds below the hide. We've heard plenty of booming on the trip, but it was really nice to actually see one.
|View from the Bittern Hide. The Bittern was in the right/front of the reeds.|
By the end of Friday Mary had added 9 new birds & was on 115 + 1 Sub-species. I had added the Stone Curlew & was on 163 +1
There are so many sites nearby in the 'Where to Watch Birds' book that on Saturday we were spoiled for choice. Our direction was determined by a Great Grey Shrike that was shown on Birdguides about 20 mins to the South of us on Hollesley Heath. It had been there for a few days, either on the wire fence of an MOD property or on the wires by a pig farm. We found a spot that fitted the bill & a 2 minute scan found the bird on the MOD fence. We actually got fairly close & watched it flit between the fence & nearby trees.
|Mary photographing the Shrike|
|Iken Cliff on the The River Alde..... no Cliffs in sight|
No birding trip would be complete without a visit to a sewage works/ chalk pit/ quarry/ outfall or power plant. Being next to Sizewell, the choice was easy! We started at the beach to see the Kittiwake colony on the offshore installation (not quite sure what it is exactly). There were hundreds of them & they were a new bird for my Year List.
|Kitttiwakes & Cormorants|
|A nice back-drop!|
|Looking for dinner.....|
I had added 2 & was on 165 + 1
To be continued......