Wednesday 12 April 2017

Spoonbills, Cattle Egret and another Osprey

Another excellent day on patch today! I started out early at Seaton Marshes hoping to see the Cattle Egrets at their main roost site but none of them were there at 07:00. The only birds of note were singles of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler at Borrow Pit (Sedge was heard only). Next stop was Black Hole Marsh to see if the Spoonbills had spent the night here, which they had. I arrived shortly after 07:30 and they were sleeping until 07:45 but upon waking it was clear that they were thinking of moving off. They soon flew high and North but returned 5 mins later, then did a similar routine about 20 mins later. I moved to Tower Hide as this was the better spot for photos in terms of light direction despite the distance being far from ideal. I struck lucky when a Cattle Egret flew in and landed close to one of the Spoonbills for 10 seconds or so; I certainly wasn't expecting to come away with a shot like this this morning:

Here's a few more snaps of the Spoonbills:

Knot as a bonus as well!

Shortly before 09:00 both Spoonbills flew off high and East and were seen at The Fleet in Dorset about an hour later (probably the same two birds). It's nice when things move off and are re-found not far away, although some of the patch birders between here and there weren't too impressed that they (probably) missed them flying overhead!

With the Spoonbills now gone I thought I'd try again at Seaton Marshes and this proved worthwhile as there were 5 Wheatear showing well by the path to the hide. The cloud helped get some sharp shots too (heat haze close to the ground ruins photos):

An afternoon look at Colyford Common yielded 1 Cattle Egret although it was flighty, perhaps due to people walking along the path or maybe the tram noises (neither of which can be avoided so that's fine). It was alternating between Colyford Common and Bridge Marsh.

I also had my first House Martins of 2017 with 4 along with a Sand Martin over Coly Common. I initially reported 5 House Martins but a look at the pics revealed one was in fact a Sand Martin.

After a good morning out I headed home to crack on with some work until a bit before 17:00 when Brendan rang with news of an Osprey flying over Black Hole Marsh! I tried to get it from the house but could only see the mayhem with gulls and waders flying around. On another quick call Brendan said that it was heading North but hadn't caught anything yet so we figured that if I ran down to Tower hide I might get lucky and have it fly back downstream and fish in front of me. Yeah that was a pretty optimistic plan... When I arrived the Osprey had gone a long way North and everyone had lost it due to distance. Determined to see it I scoured above and below the horizon and eventually could exclaim OSPREY; it was flying above the A3052 near Bridge Marsh. This is about a mile away from Tower Hide and with significant heat haze you can imagine how tricky it was to pick out. Brendan and partner Hannah then got it in the scope and followed it until it eventually headed our way (vaguely); it got to within perhaps half a mile of us so please forgive the truly appalling record shot that appears below. I've already seen an Osprey here in the last few days but with the number I missed last year I'd like to see as many as possible (on patch) in 2017, even if that means running!

Many thanks to Brendan and Hannah for initially finding the Osprey and then keeping me updated with its whereabouts! Very helpful indeed and I would probably have missed it without you both.

The Buzzard (right) was very persistent with harassing the Osprey

One more look over the marshes later in the evening produced singles of Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover.

Excellent day!

P.s. Apologies if the pics look a little soft; I am having trouble processing pics properly on my Mac. It may be a 'Pro' model but darn do I miss my Windows machine!

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