The Afternoon dragged by, with updates suggesting the bird was hanging around. When the bell sounded I was out and in the car faster than a rat up a drainpipe and didn't spare the horses arriving at Upton 30 minutess later.
Although not an easy gig, I eventually got a sighting of the Short Eared Owl doing it's best not to be seen and avoid the biting wind that had sent my fingers numb. A lifer ! In the last 12 months I have managed now to see Little, Long Eared, Barn and Short Eared Owl locally.
The forecast for Sunday was high winds and heavy rain, so Saturday the plan was to go after another doorstep lifer, The Curlew Sandpiper at Grimley. On arriving just after 10am, it was apparent it had decided to try and escape our crappy spring weather by continuing it's journey to the far North. Oh well.
But all was not lost, as within a few minutes a bird swooped over the water, I was following it in my bins thinking ''thats a bloody big Swift, my first of the year'', when it dawned on me it was Hobby !! I pointed it out to a fellow regular at the site who was happy to agree with the ID. A few people pitched up and we enjoyed the Waders and Yellow Wagtails, if a little distant from the top end.
Moving to the other end of the water, I set up camp to see what I could eek out of the bitterly cold day. A Peregrine swooped over and headed into the woods, and a Kestrel hovered. Sedge Warbler song could be heard but initially I couldn't get onto the blighter.
Moving to a more sheltered spot, I enjoyed good views of a Willow Warbler, and a female Blackcap, and then the Sedge Warbler showed allowing me to add it as a years tick. Sand Martin, House Martins and the odd Swallow came really close as they crossed the causeway. Little Grebes dived close to the deepening shore line. At this point a fellow local birder pulled up on his bike. As we chewed the fat what we thought was another Sedge flitted in the reeds close by. Eventually I got a glimpse, Reed Warbler, which was confirmed when it popped up higher in the reeds, showing really well for a minute or so, and even giving a bit of song. I was well chuffed to get such quality views of Reed and Sedge Warbler so early in the year.
A Yellow Wag flitted across, and then something I will never forget.... between 15 and 20 Yellow Wagtails descended onto the narrow causeway in front of us. You know this is something special when a seasoned birder like the guy who had joined me is getting excited, and not able to recall such an event, the causeway was turning yellow ! There was the odd female and even a Grey Wagtail in the group of vivid yellow birds. They continued to come and go on the causeway at various bits, in smaller numbers for 20 minutes. I got a couple of snaps a some video during which my first Swift of the year swooped over !
|A Few of the Yellow Wagtails|