Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Suffolk strikes again

So after Suffolk offered me a WP tick just last week, my neighbouring county 'struck gold' again. Yesterday a drake Blue-winged Teal was found at SWT's Carlton Marshes. I couldn't go yesterday but today I managed to sneak a quick visit into my work day. Less than an hour away from home I couldn't resist. Even though it's not exactly the best time of year for vagrant nearctic wildfowl, nor the best part of the country, local birding community seems to be taking this bird quite seriously, so who am I to ignore it? It may have escaped from a wildfowl collection somewhere - there are so many in East Anglia like this one, but I guess there are just as good chances it is a genuine vagrant.

Anyway, as I arrived on site I met a bunch of frustrated birders. A helicopter that had flown by flushed all the birds on the scrape, and the prime suspect was gone. But there I was to save the day ;-) - scanning through my brilliant Swarovski ATX95 I noticed a small group of ducks roosting in tall grass by the far side of the scrape. Despite the long distance, heat haze (in the UK!) and looking into the sun (in the UK!), I noted that one of them was THE bird - bingo! I got all the others on it, and the communal mood improved quickly. The duck spent most of its time sleeping, head tucked under wing. But occasionally it lifted its head up, and once it even stood up! Exciting times! Because of the tough conditions photography was almost pointless. This award-winning shot is the best I could achieve:

Blue-winged Teal

I really liked this reserve. Should return there with my kids. Pan-listers like James would appreciate it much more than a narrow-minded birder like myself, but there was enough stuff  to entertain me while waiting for the duck to lift its bloody head up: a Cuckoo was singing from the nearby woods; a Gropper reeled from the tall grass; and as a result of the warm weather raptors put on a relatively good show - five Buzzards together, a Red Kite and a Marsh Harrier.

Red Kite

In the bird-food section, I failed to find any Fen Spiders but I gave it not more than a couple of minutes; and among the large numbers of the commoner dragonflies and damselflies there were a couple of Norfolk Hawkers.

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