Monday, 17 June 2013


My 50th UK Garganey. Shame It Was Asleep.

Saturday mid morning and I was still in bed eating toasted tea-cakes and drinking tea with a day of shopping, a bank visit and cinema planned when the shrill of my pager mega alerting from the front room filled the air. I knew exactly what it would be it was just a case of where it was. Sure enough it was a Pacific Swift and it was in Suffolk. Due to the fact that if I didn't go to do the jobs I had planned today it would be another fortnight before i'd get a chance again so all day pager messages teased me with news that it was still present and showing well. As news was still positive and the bird was still around at 9.30pm I had a small feeling it may be there in the morning. With that in mind I woke at 4.30am and was out the door by 5am. just before 7am I was on site and had just missed the last parking space so I had to park near the level crossing. There was still no news on the bird but I started the 3 mile walk to the hides but unlike yesterday when people were running/jogging I took a leisurely stroll and along the way added a singing Nightingale to the year list. I was 50 yards from the first hide when the news I had hoped for appeared on the pager. It was still here! So after a short jog I grabbed the last seat in the hide and got onto the area where it was showing. Unfortunately it was showing for a split second every few minutes as it popped up above the reeds. With the poor viewing we left the hide and went to stand on the bank where we could over look the area better. After a few minutes I finally picked it up my first PACIFIC SWIFT but very distant and for the next hour or so I had numerous views as it swirled around with it's common cousins. The long deeply forked tail, white rump and slender scythe like wings were obvious even at a distance. Other birds noted were a male Bullfinch, pair of Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, family party of Shelduck with 9 juvs, 13 Avocet, 8+ Black-Tailed Godwit and a singing Lesser Whitethroat. The walk back was a lot quicker as one of the locals very kindly gave me a lift back to my car along with Graham Higgins a birder from Hemel Hempstead who I passed as he was leaving as I arrived! Nice to have met you Graham.

With it being still early I cohse to continue north and have a few hours at Minsmere. I parked up and within seconds my first Bittern of the year could be heard booming. The Stone Curlew family wasn't showing so I continued along to the beach and into the east hide. More Avocet and Blackwits were on show but then the couple next to me found a wader and ID'd it as a juv Knot. I got onto it and re-identified it as a Curlew Sandpiper! Another Shelduck family was present but with only 7 juvs. A couple of Cuckoo were heard and at least 10 Little Egret were dotted around. 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were over the beach. I arrived at the levels hoping that the Spoonbills were present but alas they weren't but 3 summer plumage Spotted Redshank (my first in that plumage for a while) were nice compensation. Near the west hide I scanned one of the pools in the reeds and in with a group of Gadwall was a small duck which was sleeping. I was hoping it was a female Garganey and sure enough it woke up showed it's head and bill and hey presto it was! It was my 150th species for the year and my 50th Garganey in the UK. All in all a great days birding.

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