Posts Tagged ‘Little Egret’

Sue and I spent two weeks exploring the north of Norfolk and would like to share some of the highlights of our trip.

 

Our first stop on arriving in Norfolk was at the WWT reserve at Welney in Fenland. This reserve is best known for its wintering migratory swans but it is good all year round. The really good thing is that you can birdwatch why you eat your lunch in the restaurant (if you can get a table by the windows!). We were lucky and so were able to look out over Lady Fen and the feeding stations. The former was quiet with just a couple of Little Egrets, but the feeders didn’t disappoint with House Sparrows, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a single Tree Sparrow present.

The view from the cafe in the Welney visitor centre -wildlife watching whilst you eat

Little Egret

Tree Sparrow

 

After finishing our lunch, we made our way over to the main hide where there was a large group of Ruff along with Lapwing and Black-Tailed Godwits.  Sue found a group of Common Snipe feeding in the margins and we counted a maximum of 14 birds at different times. A female Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance,

Common Snipe

We made our way back to the balcony overlooking Lady Fen and were treated to a fly-past by a Eurasian Hobby

Leaving Welney we made our way to East Barsham, north of Fakenham, which would be our base for the next two weeks. Relaxing over a cup of tea in the garden we saw a family of pheasants who with white backs, probably one of the variants originally bred for shooting which now is now breeding in the wild. A Common Whitethroat, amongst other small birds, was seen in a hedge.

Common Pheasants in the garden (normal plumage)

 

As the sun began to set we were excited to see a Barn Owl fly through the meadow beyond the garden and land in a tree where there is a breeding box. After a brief stop, he went away over the fields. Later he settled on a post at end of the garden.

 

Barn Owl in field behind our cottage

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

 

Keith and I off to Cliffe, an RSPB reserve in the north Kent Marshes, hoping to catch some autumn migration. We begin, as always, at Tabitha’s snack wagon at West Court Farm for our morning refreshments and a chance to look over the fields for any birds migrant or resident that might be feeding there. A Rook is a good sighting but there seems to be very little else.

West Court Farm

West Court Farm

Moving onto the RSPB reserve, we notice how quite it seems to be. There is very little evidence of small bird activity, perhaps a result of the breeze that is blowing. As the day wears on the rising tide on the adjacent River Thames starts to move the wading birds off the tidal mudflats and onto the marshes.

River Thames at Cliffe

River Thames at Cliffe

 

We were delighted to find a Common Kestrel perched on the Sea Wall. As we approached it took off and proceeded to hunt over the marshes

Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel

 

Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel

By the time we are heading back from the riverside there are good numbers of Golden Plover, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits arriving to feed on the marshes.

 

Waders gathering on marsh pools

Waders gathering on marsh pools

In amongst them are smaller numbers of Red Knot, Grey Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Redshank and Ringed Plover. Unfortunately apart from these common species there were no rarer migrants with them.

Grey Plover

Grey Plover

One sighting which we had not seen on previous visits was a very large roost of Great Black-backed Gulls, possibly over 200 in total.

Great Black-backed Gulls at roost

Great Black-backed Gulls at roost

All in all, although we totalled over 50 species, a quiet day for this reserve, but that’s the beauty of birdwatching – you never now what you might find.

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

Old Man’s Beard – Clematis vitalba was much in evidence around the reserve

Old Man’s Beard – Clematis vitalba was much in evidence around the reserve

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Red Knot [sp] (Calidris canutus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Oare Marshes

Oare Marshes

 

LIttle Egret

Little Egret

A fine day saw me on the North Kent marshes with Keith and Brian. Our day started at Oare Gunpowder works, where we recorded some woodland species, although the star bird was a Grey Wagtail which we found in one of the old works buildings.

Oare Gunpowder Works

Oare Gunpowder Works

 

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Then we moved onto the Marshes, which are one of the best places for migrating waders in the county.

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Whilst waiting for the incoming tide to push the wading birds onto the marsh we went for a walk along the sea wall. We had been told that a Western Osprey had been fishing in the channel between Oare and Harty, but it seemed to have moved on. Then whilst searching the Harty bank, Brian found the bird perched on a post by the waters edge. As we watched it was clearly enjoying a meal of a fish it had caught.

On the rising tide, we saw increasing numbers of waders arriving on the marsh. Golden Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Black-Tailed Godwit were the most numerous species. Smaller numbers of Greenshank and Whimbrel were also present.

Golden Plover

Golden Plover

 

Black-Tailed Godwits

Black-Tailed Godwits

In amongst these, we found at least 5 Little Stint and at least 4 Curlew Sandpiper.

Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and Ringed Plover

Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and Ringed Plover

 

Little Stint

Little Stint

There was a migrating passage of Swallows and smaller numbers of House and Sand Martins. We also heard and then briefly saw a Water Rail and had a brief flight view of two Bearded Reedlings.

Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were present in good numbers and we also recorded 5 species of Butterfly including at least 6 Clouded Yellows. I also found a lizard which I believe is a Common Lizard basking in the grass.

 

Clouded Yellow. Photo by Nick Ford (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickpix2008/)

Clouded Yellow. Photo by Nick Ford (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickpix2008/)

 

Basking Lizard

Basking Lizard

An excellent day in a wonderful place. Thanks to Brian for driving us around and to him and Keith for their company.

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

 

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

 

My trip to Rutland Water on Sunday gave me lots of opportunities to photograph Egrets. When I first started birdwatching nearly 40 years ago we would have travelled a long distance to see any species of Egret. Now Little Egret is an established bird, which in some places outnumbers Grey Heron and Great White Egret is a common visitor.

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

 

Great white Egret (adult)

Great white Egret (adult)

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

Great White Egret (Juvenile)

Great White Egret (Juvenile)

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

A fine clear morning saw me heading north from London in the company of the local RSPB group bound for Rutland Water in Leicestershire. This would be my second visit this year as Sue and I had stopped off here on our way to Northumberland during the summer, but this time I would have more time to explore this wonderful place.

Rutland Water is a large reservoir opened in 1976 to store water for the East of England. It has since become a major watersports centre and also a wonderful place for wildlife. It is impossible to visit all the potentially good areas in a day as the reservoir and surrounding land covers such a vast area, so our trip today would concentrate on the area around Eggleton, where there a number of small lagoons which have been managed to provide different habitats.

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

A visit to the hide overlooking the feeder station (in the hope of seeing Tree Sparrow), but only Great and Blue Tits, Chaffinch and Goldfinch are present.

Chaffinch (f)

Chaffinch (f)

I make my way south towards Heron Bay visiting a couple of lagoons on the way. It seems very quiet and only a few Herons and Egrets along with Lapwing and Gadwall are present. Reaching Lagoon No 5 there are at least 8 Little Grebe present and a party of 10 Barn Swallows pass over on their migration.

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

 

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

Heron bay is busier with large numbers of Great Cormorant, Mute Swans, Gadwall and Canada Geese present. One interesting sight is a platform with the remains of an Osprey nest. Rutland Water is one of the few sites in England where the Osprey nests and the water authority have provided a number of platforms around the reservoir for them to build their nests upon. The last of the Rutland Ospreys had left on its migration south just about a week ago, so the platforms were the only reminder of the importance of this reserve to a rare breeding bird.

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

Returning north back towards the reserve centre I paused to look over Lagoon 1 and could see a Large White Heron-like bird but at that distance, it was difficult to be sure of its identity. I made my way to another hide overlooking the same lagoon but further west and was rewarded with good views of a Great White Egret, first perched on an island and then later feeding in the Lagoon. A Eurasian Hobby was busy hunting over the Lagoon and a Kingfisher was also seen here as it alighted briefly on a fence.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

In the afternoon I went northwards from the centre and was rewarded on Lagoon 3 with an even closer view of a Great White Egret which posed just outside the hide. This bird appears to be a juvenile (dark legs and a yellow bill) as opposed to the adult seen on Lagoon 1 (pale legs and black mark on bill end) -so 2 different birds present.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

There were also 2 Black-tailed Godwits here which together with small parties of snipe and large numbers of Northern Lapwing were the only wading birds that I could find.

One final trip back to Tree Sparrow hide failed to turn up the elusive bird and I wonder at their status as this used to be an almost 100% certainty at this site when I have visited in previous years.

Apart from the birds I also recorded 5 species of dragonfly and 7 species of Butterfly.

Common Darter

Common Darter

Then it was time to rejoin the coach for the trip back to London. Great weather, great location and some great wildlife.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great White Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)
Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

A chance to get out of London and travel down to Chatham to look for the Great Northern Diver which is wintering in the docks (I failed to see it on my trip last month). After meeting Keith at the station we walked down through the town to the riverside where we got great views of Rochester Cathedral and Castle.

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

There was a lot of mud as the tide was well out but aside from Black-headed Gulls and a few Mallard, the only bird of note was a single Common Redshank.

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

We continued along the riverside paths to the dock basin.

Chatham Dock Basin

Chatham Dock Basin

We scanned for the diver but it was nowhere to be seen. After a hour we went off to get some lunch and when we returned there was a European Shag on a bouy in the basin. This smaller version of a cormorant is a species not often recorded in SE UK so it was a good opportunity to see and photograph it.

European Shag

European Shag

There was still no sign of the diver (In fact as I sit and write this on Thursday morning – I have seen no reports of it being seen since Monday afternoon – perhaps it has finally moved on?). Mid-afternoon we decided to finish the day on Keith s home patch as Abbots Court near Hoo, A mixture of lakes, marsh and pasture on the edge of the River Medway, this is a lovely site which has lots of different habitats. We were greeted on arrival by a large flock of House Sparrows, once a common garden bird all over the UK, their numbers have plummeted in the last decade and in many places they are now rare – I have had one garden record in 12 years! When I was growing up we often had flocks of over 30 birds in the garden.

Abbot's Court

Abbot’s Court

 

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

As we walked towards the River, a Common Kestrel flashed by and a group of Meadow Pipit flew overhead. Arriving at the river there was a good selection of waders and other waterbirds on the mudflats (the tide was a long way out so views were distant). A Little Egret probed in the muddy pools looking for food and we flushed some Common Snipe from the saltmarsh.

Saltmarsh at abbot's Court

Saltmarsh at Abbot’s Court

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

In the distance we could see a flock of 500-600 Brent Geese as the travelled from their feeding grounds to the estuary and back. An amazing sight and a wonderful sound.

The sun was setting and what had been a wonderfully bright and warm January afternoon became much colder as we headed back in land.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Strumpshaw Fen

Strumpshaw Fen

The final day of our trip to Norfolk and our final destination is Strumpshaw fen RSPB reserve. I am still hoping to get that elusive photograph of Swallowtail Butterfly and this reserve is one of their strongholds in the UK.

Strumpshaw Fen

Strumpshaw Fen

As we made our way along the trail, I did get to take some photographs of a butterfly species that I haven’t managed to capture before, but it was not Swallowtail. Instead it was a lovely White Admiral which briefly posed for us before flying off

White Admiral

White Admiral

White Admiral

White Admiral

Other highlights included Norfolk Hawker dragonfly and an Emperor Dragonfly as well as a number of different species of butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoieshell

Small Tortoieshell

 

Azure Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

We eventually made it to the hide and decided to settle ourselves down as an Otter had been seen earlier using the waterway which passes in front. we di see Grey Heron and Little Egret but alas no sighting of Otter.

Little Egret

Little Egret

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

And what you may ask about the Swallowtail’s – yes we saw a number. No I didnt get to photograph them. Oh well there is always next year!

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
White Admiral (Limenitis camilla)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Norfolk Hawker (Anaciaeschan isosceles)
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

In the afternoon we visit the RSPB reserve at Minsmere. This is one of the premier birdwatching sites in the UK most notably because of its position on the east coast and because of the way it manages to combine a number of different habitats (heathland; freshwater lake; reedbed; marsh; woodland; coast) in one area. As we are in the area for a few days we decide to break it into two sections and do one today and one tomorrow. Today we concentrate on the heath, marsh and the coast. There has been some maintenance work in progress over the winter to install a new protective fence for the nesting birds on the mud-flats and this has probably reduced the numbers of wading birds which have wintered here this year, so it is quieter than I would have expected.

During the lunch-time sun a peacock butterfly makes an appearance, my first butterfly of the year

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

From the dunes looking over the marsh I can just make out a distant Spoonbill. Once rare these birds are now being seen with increasing frequency in Southern England.

SPOONBILL
Spoonbill
Photo by Fabio Gismundi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabiogis50/)

On the Mud-flats are several Avocets along with some Oystercatchers.

Marsh and Mud-flats

Marsh and Mud-flats

Avocets and Shelduck

Avocets and Shelduck

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

There are also a number of Little Egrets, another bird which was rare 10 years ago but is now nesting in many places in southern England.

Little Egret

Little Egret

On the heath the song-birds are beginning to sing with the resident Dunnocks and Robins to the fore. It will not be many weeks now before the summer visitors have arrived to swell the chorus.

Heathland at Minsmere

Heathland at Minsmere

Robin

Robin

On the coast there is little to see apart from some Herring Gulls and two distant Red-Throated Divers flying out to sea as they make their way north to their breeding grounds

Coastal sand Dunes at Minsmere

Coastal sand Dunes at Minsmere

Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
Red-Throated Diver
Photo by Noel Reynolds (https://www.flickr.com/photos/29237715@N05/)

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

DSCN5342a

A free morning and the chance to get out and do some birdwatching with Sue. We chose to visit one of our favourite places Bough Beech Reservoir near Sevenoaks. On arrival it was noticeable that the water level was much lower than on our previous visit, but despite the exposed mud there was little to be seen on the northern basin. The main reservoir lies to the south of the causeway and immediately the long-staying Great White Egret was located.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

A pair of Goosander were soon seen swimming across the reservoir and later the male came closer to the causeway.

Goosander

Goosander

A flash of blue was the only sighting of a Kingfisher as it sped from one side to the other. There were small parties of Teal, Wigeon and Shovellor along with a half a dozen Great Crested Grebes.

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

On the banks were a large group of Greylag geese, Cormorants and Lapwing together with a party of about 20 Mandarin Duck (the largest number I have ever seen here).

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

Checking the Northern basin before we left I found this Little Egret posing for pictures.

Little Egret

Little Egret

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Merganser [sp] (Mergus merganser)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)

DSCN4825a

A visit today to Bough Beech reservoir near Sevenoaks in Kent. On arriving and scanning the reservoir the first bird seen was a Great White Egret. This is a rare visitor from central Europe, although more frequent each year as it seems to be expanding Westward.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

This is a UK first sighting for me, having previously only seen it in Austria and Hungary. It was with a Grey Heron and Little Egret which was a good chance to compare the species.

DSCN4824a

The Little Egret, also once a rarity in UK, is now a regular breeding bird and there were 5 present at Bough Beech today

Little Egret

Little Egret

Little Egret

Little Egret

Good number of Wigeon and Great Crested Grebe also present. Was fortunate to see a Kingfisher fishing in river. Unfortunately it was through trees and impossible to get any photos.

DSCN4836

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Great Egret (Ardea alba alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)