26th August 2013 - Rainham Marshes

I really should write blog posts straight after the trip, as I have minimal recollection of this trip to Rainham apart from getting my first Lesser Whitethroat for the year and seeing a Reed Warbler behave in an extremely odd manner.  I’m sure it was a lovely walk as Rainham always is.

Small Tortoiseshell 
Aha, I have remembered something else – we also saw our first Clouded Yellow. What a glorious butterfly!  There was also a seal down on the shore with a couple of Black-tailed Godwits and Common Tern.

Reed Warbler
Trip list: 35
Year list: 175
Lifers of year list: 22

17th August 2013 - Rutland Water

So after Birdfair finished we headed down and around to the centre at the Osprey viewpoint. Without even leaving the centre we got a great little bird, Tree Sparrow. We so rarely see these (off the top of my head, I can only think of Dungeness as a place to spot them!) that they are always a great treat. We sat and watched them for a while before realised we should probably get walking down to the hide! On the walk we spotted a range of birds, from multitudes of Mute Swan, to a lone Swift.

Tree Sparrow 
Upon entering the hide, the most noticeable thing wasn’t actually the Osprey nest, but a tree directly in front, covered in Cormorant! It was a great sight. Over to the left, there was the Osprey nest, with a juvenile sat in it and an adult sat on a post to the left. They remained in these positions and eventually another adult flew in, with some food for the youngster. I enjoyed watching this one dipping his feet in the water to wash them, but unfortunately didn't manage to get a photo.

Cormorant tree
Plenty of Little Egret were around and ridiculous number of Pied Wagtails were hopping on the banks. A flock of Canada Goose had a single Greylag Goose hanging out with them and a small family of Egyptian Goose were spotted on the far bank over to the right. A couple of Common Tern and Greenshank finished the watch and we headed back to the car.

Trip list: 24
Year list: 174
Lifers of year list: 22

Swallows on the roof at the B&B

17th August 2013 - Birdfair

Birdfair, oh Birdfair, oh Birdfair. For 3 years I’ve been trying to get there and something has always cropped up and this year looked as though it may be going the same way. However, on the Friday morning, it turned out my weekend was indeed free and I booked an amazing B&B and we headed up to Rutland on the Saturday morning. First good thing – Rutland is nowhere near as long a drive as we’d somehow got into our heads it was! For some reason we were thinking it was somewhere along the 4 hours lines, but it turns out it’s only around 2 hours. Score. I’d bought and printed off our tickets the day before so it was quick and easy to get in but unfortunately we’d left a little late, so we missed the first event on our list. It turned out that we only saw one event on our list in the end, so we’ll have to work on that next year. There were a lot more exhibitors and therefore marquees than expected, which was excellent. I definitely could have spent another day wandering around the site.

I enjoyed the multitude of second hand books stalls, if we’d had the money we could have put together an entire library of Collins New Naturalist books (and believe me, we were tempted despite the lack of funds!). We had great fun completing a survey for the PhD research of a lovely Australian lady (not sure if I’m allowed to name her!) and I got a little Koala. I really really want to go bird watching on the Gold Coast in Australia now, and have a trip in the works. She’s very good at selling the area!

My haul from Birdfair

I had realised there were Ospreys at Rutland, but not to quite what extent. A charming gentleman in the Ospreys tent told us all about them and exactly where to go and see them. More on that in another post! I got a Rutland Ospreys bag and two Osprey badges. Very happy. More money was spent when I came across the WWT stand and just had to sponsor a Spoon-billed Sandpiper (see below for my fluffy one, he’s called Philip) and then on the next stand it didn’t take much to persuade me to subscribe to British Birds magazine. I had been planning on subscribing at some point in the near future anyway, but the offer of a copy of Bird Sense and Birds & People was more than enough to sway me for going for it then!

Birdfair nails!
The event we did get to was Bird Brain, hosted by Bill Oddie. It was great fun, although the questions were unbelievably difficult. Dominic Couzens, who I have mentioned before, was partaking in the Celebrity Wild Brain the following day and kept his title from the previous year – well done!
It was then off to battle with the traffic leaving and head to see the Ospreys…

Things for next year:

Make it to more events
Spend two days there
Leave the credit card at home!
Philip the Spoon-billed Sandpiper

10th August 2013 - Cliffe Pools

Our visit to Cliffe Pools was a godsend to my year list. 5! Although I’m technically not allowed to count one…

Blue Tit
The first addition to my year list was a bird that had been bizarrely elusive throughout the year. We’d seen Green Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Stuart had added Curlew Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper to that list but at no point during the year had either of us caught up with a Common Sandpiper. As soon as we stepped out of the car park we saw one however, so that was an excellent sighting for us. A Whitethroat was singing behind us as we were looking out across the water and as we turned to see, it was sitting high up, out in the open looking lovely.

The number of Little Egret was extraordinary – around 30 we estimated. Great to see. The next addition to the year list was a Greenshank, and then another and in the end, quite a few! Plenty of Avocet were wading around and 4 kinds of gull were seen.

One of the many Great Crested Grebe
The bird I’m technically not allowed to count came next in the guise of a Ruddy Shelduck (or two). They are gorgeous birds and I’m very happy to have seen them. There were lots and lots of Sand Martin zooming around the pools and just before we had to leave, I got a Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff, both new ticks for the year.

A very pretty caterpillar (Cinnabar Moth?)
An interesting sighting, although not identified, was a bird of prey flying over the fields. It was similar in description to a Red Kite, but definitely not one. It appeared through the scope to have a jess hanging from the leg and then disappeared down into a field not to be seen again, so it may be a falconer’s bird. It would be nice to know what type it was though, it was lovely looking.

It was a slog back to the car then, but filled with lovely butterflies and dragonflies to keep me happy.

Trip list: 42
Year list: 173
Lifers of year list: 22