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Monday, May 4, 2015

Keep your Her-on!

Popped to my local RSPB reserve for a couple of hours this morning, Greylake in Somerset, UK.
  It was rather busy. The weather was mostly cloudy, but it was dry, which was a pleasant surprise!
 Of course I took my camera, but I made the big mistake of not checking my settings and as a result most of my pictures weren't great!
   Luckily a Heron flew close by and landed in a pond nearby, allowing me some half decent pics!











^Above^ - The Heron!

I heard a Bittern booming here for the first time, which is just fantastic!
  Also saw Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Kestrel, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a host of common birds.
  Love this place!
 Below are some pics I did manage to get, despite my poor camera settings!


^Above^ - Curlew


^Above^ - Mute Swan.






^Above^ - Reed Buntings.


^Above^ - Kestrel.

































^Above^ - Sedge Warbler.







^Above^ - Robin.



^Above^ - RSPB Greylake!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hudsonian Godwit in Somerset!! They don't come much rarer!!

So Saturday started just like so many before.
Up early and off to work. I need the overtime, new cameras don't pay for themselves!!
Also 3 young children, a Flat Coated Retriever, Somersets oldest cat (probably!), a Chameleon and 2 Ball Pythons don't pay for themselves either!!
   Luckily I was only working 20 minutes from home. Whilst I waited for the contractors to do their jobs, I surfed Twitter......and something caught my eye!
  Apparently there was a Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath, just up the road!
 I should point out here and now, I had never even heard of this bird until then!
It's a North American species, and had only ever been seen in the UK 3 times previously, the last time in the early 80s!
  In Twitching parlance, this was a 'Mega' or a 'Blocker'...... to everyone else it was a 'bloody rare bird'!!
  At this stage I had already decided I wanted to get to Meare Heath as soon as possible!
I don't 'twitch' rare birds as such, but if one turns up on my local patch I like to get to see it!
    After finishing work, my other half and I made our way to the new RSPB Ham Wall car park, opposite Meare Heath. The car park was packed!!
  We walked over the road and made our way to the scrape where the star bird had been residing. We passed so many other birders, I'd never seen so many in my life!
  People had come from as far away as Norfolk and the North of England to see this bird!
I also saw a couple of familiar faces, such as 'Cookie', who had actually only arrived  to have a look around and got a bonus Hudsonian Godwit as a result! Great timing!
   Opposite the scrape, a wall of tripods adorned with telescopes and cameras were trained on a group of Black Tailed Godwits. My other half and I looked in this general direction with our binoculars, but alas, could not find the bird at this distance.
   A kindly birder let us have a look through his telescope, and sure enough, the Hudsonian stood out against the 'cleaner' Black Tails. It wasn't very active, but it was a thrill to see!
  Shortly after we'd arrived it disappeared under the bank, so Nick and I walked to Meare Heath hide to see what else was about, which proved to be a wise decision as it started to rain!
  The weather was very dull and overcast, not great for photography at all, but below are a few pics of the rarest bird i've ever seen and probably will ever see!


^Above^ - The Hudsonian Godwit was much easier to tell apart from the Black tails in flight, showing it's barred belly and black underwing.



^Above^ - The Hudsonian is the bird second top.


^Above^ - The top bird.


^Above^ - On the right (With Black Tailed Godwit)


^Above^ - Spot the rarity!!!!  




^Above^ - The star of the show! The Hudsonian is the Godwit on the right in the bottom picture.



^Above^ - Birders and Twitchers galore!!!

 These were some of the lucky ones! Shortly after 4pm the Godwits took to the air, and part of the group flew off, unfortunately including the Hudsonian Godwit!
   I felt sorry for the people arriving as I left....they 'dipped out', another Twitching term, meaning to miss the rare bird they had travelled to see!

 Many of the people present had never been to the nature reserves on the Somerset Levels before, and lots of them were commenting on what a fantastic place it was! I have a feeling many will return for birding trips in the future!

  Amongst the other birds I saw during our 2 hours at Meare Heath were Bittern, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler, Arctic Tern, Blackcap, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenshank, Dunlin, Redshank, Sparrowhawk, Pochard, Gadwall and many other commoner species!

At one stage i watched a Sparrowhawk stoop from a great height at great speed and attack a small bird just above the tree lines, much like a Peregrine!! Never seen a Sparrowhawk hunt in this way before!

 Below are some of the other photos I managed;




^Above^ - Male Marsh Harrier.



^Above^ - Female Marsh Harrier.



^Above^ - Bittern.




^Above^ - Great White Egret, complete with green breeding patch on the face!



^Above^ - Greenshank (With Black Tailed Godwit in bottom pic)


^Above^ - Dunlin coming in to land.



^Above^ - Dunlin with a Black Tailed Godwit.


^Above^ - Redshank.


^Above^ - Black Tailed Godwit flock.




^Above^ - Gadwall.


^Above^ - Cormorant.




^Above^ - Grey Heron.


^Above^ - Arctic Tern.


^Above^ - Little Egret.


^Above^ - Wren.

 A fantastic visit!
  So lucky that such a rare bird turned up so close to my home!
Sadly, there was no sign of it today. I wonder if it is still in Somerset? 
 Probably worth checking out your Godwit flocks, no matter where you are!