24 April 2010

Lesser Whitethroat!

A personal triumph. Bog-standard for others, I'm sure - BUT I DON'T CARE!!!!

Anyway, rewind. I was at the 100 Acre's first viewing platform for 6.45am. A chilly morning to begin with (needed gloves), but little to no wind and lots of birds. Couldn't ask for more. Saw a Buzzard munching on some prey on the way from Splatt Bridge. A mutilated photo follows:

There were two major highlights of my couple of hours on the platform (with another birder for welcome company):
- My first ever Little Gull. I suppose it was the same first-winter bird seen cruising above the reeds to the back-right of the platform over the last few days. And it was first-winter, as it had no hood. I sent my sighting to Bird Guides who changed it to first-summer. Still, I spotted it and correctly identified it - which is important for me. I didn't expect to see it, as it hadn't been reported since Monday.
- My first ever Winchat (yeah, how silly). But still, it sat obligingly on the near hedgerow infront of the platform and gave good views. Unfortunately a small branch obscured a portion of its head and the viewing platform wasn't wide enough to work around it! Still, a record shot:

Also seen was a noisy Sedge Warbler in the reeds immediately behind the platform (good to very good views of that); a lovely bird to see again; I hadn't seen one since Scilly in May of last year! Other highlights were loads of Blackcaps, two Sand Martins, endless Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, Swallows, a Linnet, lots of Redshank, a Snipe in the open, a Whitethroat, a Ruff, a Little Egret and a number of Reed Buntings. Here's a poor photo of one of the Reed Buntings:

I walked further down Green Lane (as far as the sharp left turn). Here I experienced joy and frustration:
- A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling in one of the hedgerows. It was, I was sure, right infront of me - not more than three yards. Unfortunately I could not locate it. After ten minutes of silence I decided that it had probably moved on. What a tick that would've been...
- And then THE moment. I had learnt the Lesser Whitethroat's song, and had been listening for it all day (and previous days!). I'd become fixated on seeing this bird. Finally, just along from the corner in Green Lane, I heard it. As I'd been lead to expect, the bird was skulking deep in the hedgerow. It wasn't going to perch atop the foliage and sing for my convenience. Anyway, I could see it moving about alright but NEEDED a clear view to add it to my year (and indeed life) list. After five minutes of careful and quiet tracking, it moved for maybe 30 seconds into an area with fewer branches. I had my clear view; a dull grey cap and mask, dull brown back and wings. Unmistakable. YES! Made my weekend, that did; and ID of a new bird triggered by hearing its song.

On the way back to Splatt Bridge I was treated to a fantastic view of a Cuckoo sat at the top of a tall canal-side tree. Got my scope on it, and watched as it called across all it surveyed. Fantastic bird.

Finally, a short visit to Witcombe Reservoirs produced no Common Sandpipers. I though this was odd. Plenty had been reported there over the last few days. I looked around all the 'shoreline' of the three reservoirs and off towards the stream coming down from the hill. Can't think where else I should look. Still, a pair of Green Woodpeckers flew through and a Little Grebe was on the water. Pied Wagtails were present, but no White.

By now it was 1pm, and I had to go. Right at that point a Wagtail flew past me. I got my bins on it but wasn't sure if it was a Grey or a Yellow. The view didn't permit a satisfactory ID - at least for my low standard. Shame really - if it was a Yellow (and I suspect it was - its tail was rather modest) it would've been a year tick. I'll go back one evening to suss it out.

140 birds now. Only seven shy of last year - I'm aiming high, now!

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