Friday, 14 May 2010

Birthday Birding

Turning 27 this week required a big days birding to celebrate, luckily Adam decided to book a day off work and help me celebrate it, and we planned a suitably sized day worthy of any birthday!

We began at 4.30am departing Bedfordshire heading for Winterton Dunes NNR in Norfolk. A sunny morning was a lovely way to start the day with Swallows perched on wires and the sound of the sea in the background. Our goal was the 1st winter male Woodchat Shrike that has resided there for over a week, but 20 minutes of searching left us feeling deflated. However, Adam didn't give up and we kept searching, soon a bloke walking a dog with some bins showed up and we decided to ask him, turns out the Shrike had a favourite spot and we were taken to it, a little more looking and then he was found! Result! At first he simply sat behind alot of vegetation sheltering from the cold wind but as soon as the sun popped out so did he and allowed us some cracking views....

Content we decided to move on and made the journey south into Suffolk, we planned to spend a large chunk of the day at Minsmere so decided not to spot at Corton and try and spot a Hoopoe or Great Yarmouth Cemetery, they just weren't an option so we ploughed on through and finally arrived at Dunwich Heath for our next 'target bird'.....Dartford Warbler. A couple of Stonechat's were knocking about and it wasn't long before Adam had clocked on to our first Dartford, however....we then spent the next 2 hours or so battling the elements to get any sort've decent pictures. The cloud came over and that was combined with wind and rain...not ideal for photography and certainly not ideal when you're trying to snap a small bird moving around lots, an hour later and we had plenty of silouette shots and blurry images! The sun did start to poke through as we were considering leaving so we gave it 1 last shot and had 1 more walk around, we quickly located 2 Dartfords both either side of the road and finally they gave us something to work with, not the best photos you'll ever see but we felt rewarded after alot of effort!

Leaving Dunwich we then headed to Minsmere and finally i got my hands on a Ham & Cheese toastie! After wolfing that down we quickly got back on track and popped into the various hides to see what we could see. Minsmere in the Spring is certainly an excellent place to spend a day birdwatching and taking photos, there is always something going on and to be honest we could've just spend the whole day here. We crammed in as much as we could and here are some of the results...

Common Terns in flight

Sand Martin - a bugger to photograph in flight!

Little Gull - well spotted again Adam!

Swift Sillouette

After much walking around and photography we secretly had in the backs of our minds a certain Montague's Harrier. A French female winged tagged bird had been causing havoc on the reserve for the past week or so annoying Avocet's, Gulls and Terns as it attempts to feed on their eggs and chicks and so we were really hoping to see it. As we strolled along to one of the hides Adam noticed a massive erruption of Gulls in the air and a dark shape in amongst them, it had to be the Monty's! We plonked oursleves in the top deck of the hide and over the next hour got some amazing views of her as she made a nuisance of herself. Gulls and Avocets mobbed her from all angles and finally we saw her go to ground and devour a gull egg, she sat for 20 minutes eating whilst being attacked, must've been worth it!

The day was drawing to an end, we just had enough time to see this rather distant Spoonbill, my first ever!

And then enjoy a bit more general photography, including these Avocets...

...and this Coot family, very cute!

Overall a really good day, lots of firsts and some amazing moments, cheers Adam for taking the day off!