Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lesser Kestrel.

I couldn't believe it when on Sunday afternoon news broke about the Lesser Kestrel at Minsmere, not that the bird was there obviously,  but that for a change the timing was perfect for me. Monday's my day off work and so I didn't have to think about whether to go for it or not for long! We (Bun and me, as if you hadn't guessed) set off from Seaton at 3.00 am and arrived at Westleton Heath at 8.30. We had heard that the bird was showing distantly, off and on. We were also told that a few people were already there looking -  A few! More like a few hundred! Definitely the biggest twitching crowd I've seen ( but then I don't do much twitching). The bird was spotted after a few minutes and continued to show well, if VERY distantly, for the two and a half hours we were there. It was really much better than I'd expected it to be, very colourful compared to a Kestrel, the blue of the head especially so, and really striking in flight too. I was amazed how Shrike-like it's behaviour was, flying low over the ground from one vantage point to the next and periodically dropping to the ground to catch insects (I presume). It was just such a shame it never ventured any closer. It had chosen a very peaceful spot on a piece of inaccessible fenced off heathland, a conservation area for rare breeding species I think. Great bird to see though and worth the drive :-)

A couple of shots of the crowd, one from each end.
In the bottom one the  lone figure at the back looking at the ground is Bun. You can see he knows an outstanding bird when he sees one! ;-)
A couple of  photos (?) of the Lesser Kestrel ( You can tell what it is though)
Excellent close views were obtainable if you happened to be a Red Deer
Or were able to go into that shed which looks suspiciously like a hide!

A twitcher's eye view.
The red arrow is pointing at the shed.

We left the Lesser Kestrel at around 11am, so plenty of time to see something else, what though? Just twenty minutes up the road there was a Pallid Swift, but we hadn't heard any news of it during the morning, there were two Alpine Swifts a few minutes further north in Lowestoft, but we decided against them, having seen one on patch at the weekend. There was also the female Two-barred Crossbill over in Bedfordshire. We decided to go for this. Firstly because it was 'sort of' on the way back and would break up the journey home nicely and secondly because it was a Crossbill and I really like Crossbills! In case you hadn't noticed... ;-) It was a good call  giving the Swift a miss because we would have definitely dipped it AND it's back today.

It took two hours to drive over to RSPB HQ in Sandy, Bedfordshire, where the Two-barred Crossbill has been seen. When we arrived the news was that the Crossbill flock hadn't been seen for several hours. I wasn't worried, Crossbills are my speciality. We walked from the car park onto a footpath which leads out onto the new heathland area and almost straight away the Crossbill flock flew in, circled around and landed in a lone spruce tree right in front of us. I got my scope out and very quickly picked out the Two -barred Crossbill,  I couldn't see the wing-bars at first but knew it wasn't a Common Crossbill as soon as I set eyes on it. Let's face it I've seen a few! We spent a couple of hours here having a look around and we saw the Crossbill flock on several more occasions, once they were feeding on buds in a deciduous tree and giving great views. It was a shame the sky was so grey, (it hardly seemed to get light properly all day) it made taking naff photos a cinch!
Another first for me here was a singing Woodlark to add to two brilliant lifers, what a day! ;-)

The 'new'  (non existent at the moment?) heathland, with sparse trees.
Much easier to spot Crossbills here than at Trinity Hill Woods.
Showing well with a couple of gorgeous male Common Crossbills.

Two-barred Crossbill.

Enough of all that dross, here's the best bit. Yes, a couple of new moths for the garden on Saturday night.. I didn't have time to post the photos on Sunday evening.

Dotted Border.
Pale Pinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can't beat a good photo of people looking at birds.

Almost like being there.