Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How many ticks per mile?

Spent the weekend being informed by the pager on how well the Little Swift was showing, swanning up and down the promenade at New Brighton. Unfortunately had to wait until Monday to get my chance and rather predictably by then the bird had changed its routine. There were a number of brief sightings over the town throughout the day but it just couldnt be pinned down some sightings no doubt referring to a lone House Martin which popped up now and again. During the evening, Common Swifts began to gather and hopes were raised that it would be found going to roost but the two sites it had used on the previous evenings drew a blank

Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton

Decided not to try again for the Little Swift in the morning, couldnt face walking around those streets any more. Instead headed across country for Norfolk, more specifically Cley and the Pacific Golden Plover. Distance wise it was about the same as Wareham to New Brighton so I knew it would take a while. What I hadnt factored in were the shite roads. There was no direct route and every town had to be driven through rather than around, throw in a  rush hour and the some Peak district roads and you have a 7 hour journey.

Somewhere in the Peak District

The PGP had been showing on and off and had gone missing for long periods, so I was happy to find it wandering about at the back of the pool outside the North hide. My only complaint was that it  couldnt have been further away, stubbornly remaining right at the back of the pool.
Despite this though, even at range it was a very striking bird. A solid black from the belly downwards  with the white ending quite high up was more reminiscent of American Golden Plover but apparently it is not unusual for Pacific to show this pattern also. All other features were clearly Pacific though. 
Did see it raise its wings once to reveal the grey/brown axillaries but not a hope in hell of hearing it call unfortunately, which would have been nice.

Not too much else happening here so headed on towards Horsey area on the off chance of seeing some Cranes. Gave it a couple of hours but was too tired to hang around for dusk when they can be seen coming into roost. Short-eared Owl was a surprise photo year tick though.

Next morning headed down to Suffok. A quick look in at one of my favourite sites, Kessingland,(childhood memories and all that) Hoped to year tick Little Tern here but none to be seen. Also popped down to Covehithe Cliffs where again there were no Little Terns to be seen. I think they were probably a bit further up the beach but it was a long walk.

Next stop Minsmere for my guaranteed Stone Curlews! I usually see them on the approach road in but despite quite a wait, none appeared. Within the reserve however there was a pair nesting that were viewable from North Wall so no worries! After half an hour of waiting and explaining to every passing dude what I was looking for I had to give up, and carried on around the reserve.

There were no Little Terns offshore so after seeing this bird in the middle of the reserve I took the opportunity to get it on the yearlist. I know I could have saved a lot of effort and got one at Ferrybridge but that would have been too easy!

 2 of 3 Little Gulls loafing around 

On the way out another search for Stone Curlews drew a blank but added long awaited Stock Dove to the photo list

On the way home decided to make one last detour. Cotswold Water Park for the White-winged Black Tern. Despite the chenanigans getting to Cley from Liverpool I hadnt learned a thing and decided to come off the increasingly busy M25 and head along the M40 to do a short cut through Henley-on-Thames. What a twat! After missing a signpost I ended up in a queue in the middle of the Henley Regatta, surrounded by a load of Hooray Henrys.
Finally got to the gravel pits around 8pm to find it still there hunting up and down the far edge of the pit. What a stunning bird!   Unfortunately however as with the PGP it remained frustratingly distant so crap shots again I'm afraid.