Thursday, 16 June 2011

Friday 17th. June 2011

We were heading home after breakfast , but I was up and out , and in the Fen hide by 0600 . Still windy , and more cloud than yesterday , but short spells of sunshine too . Once again , I was greeted out front by several Reed Warblers , seemingly more at ease at this time of the day . The sun had encouraged the Marsh Harriers out of bed early too , and this female came reasonably close to the hide in her search for food . The peace and quiet was broken by a pair of juvenile Moorhens , acting like a couple of kids who had just woken up , full of energy , and full of noise , one goading the other into who would take the plunge first . It proved to be one of those mornings , as the Little Grebe that was abluting last evening , was now performing this strange routine . I can only assume that it had entered into the World Bog Snorkelling Championships , and was getting in some practice , whilst not many people were about . As I left the hide , this Willow Warbler was still singing , but with the sun covered again , he looked like he would rather be in warmer climes . The cloud didn't deter this male Reed Warbler , singing non stop , perched on the bank of The Yare . Shortly afterwards , there was a great deal of 'whiffling' and calling in the air , which was coming from three Mute Swans in line abreast , and at no more than 25ft. above the ground . The noise as they flew right overhead was quite incredible . Several Marsh Harrier were in the air now , and , at last , I was in the right position to get a shot of one of the males , showing off his superb colours . My time was nearly up , when all hell broke out in the area where the Black-headed Gulls were nesting , which at the time was out of my view . I hurried to a vantage point , and at distance , could see that the intruded was none other than a Bittern , my second sighting in two days . The whole Gull colony were in the air to defend themselves , but I have had to crop the shot considerably , cutting out many of the Gulls . Yet another Marsh Harrier sighting , this time perched atop a dead tree . Almost back to the Reception hide , I came across what looked like a family group of Blackcaps , and although juveniles have brown caps like the females , this individual and at least one of the others had a juvenile look about them . I just don't know if the juvenile males get their black caps in their first year . A last look down the open water outside the Reception hide provided an unexpected species , a Black Swan , clearly no question of this one being a 'wildie' , an escapee from a local collection a certainty . To the left of and further away from the Black Swan , I spotted this bird , which either had very long legs , or was perched on something the same height as the reedbed , more later . At the same time , I saw a male Marsh Harrier heading straight for where I was standing and between us the Gull colony . It came in at 30/40 feet , and once again the Gulls went mad , every single bird in the colony was in the air and the noise was manic , not just from the Gulls , but from the Harrier as well . After a couple of minutes of mayhem , The Harrier broke away , and headed back towards the 'long legged bird' seen earlier . As it arrived , the bird cowered , tail up , and the male seemed to land on top and mate with her . Sorry about the shot , but the distance and the movement with the male flapping didn't help . But , on getting home , I checked , and the species has just one brood , in April/May , so I think it could well be some more youthful exuberance , or getting in a bit of practice for next year .
I headed back to the b&b for breakfast , and afterwards the journey back home . The end of a great trip , 66 species of birds plus the Ferruginous Duck and the Black Swan , and the two long wished for species seen , just a shame about Carol's foot .
Can't finish without just one more shot .
Sorry ShySongbird , no Otter surprise .


Warren Baker said...

That last swallowtail photo is superb greenie, some brilliant Marsh harrier photo's as well, what a good place to visit.

PS Male Blackcaps get there Black cap over winter, but some get the odd black feathering coming through in late Autumn.

That Reed Warbler after the Willow Warbler looks a bit sedgie to me - but then, I wasn't there :-)

Rob said...

Wow - a Bittern in flight!
Beautiful Harrier too, Greenie. (Pity the RAF are scrapping it).
But yes, I too think the Swallowtail takes the biscuit.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, sounds great I'm really envious, I love it up there! Some lovely Harrier shots and well done with the Bitterns :-)

ShySongbird said...

Never mind Greenie, that photo of the Swallowtail made up for you not showing an Otter ;)

What a really rewarding time you had there! You will have to ask Carol if she has any more friends living near such lovely places that she might be longing to visit, I'm sure you wouldn't mind indulging her!

Great sightings and great photos. Lovely one of the Reed Warbler to start the post.

I love that sound of Mute Swans flying over. I don't hear it often but it is always a special moment.