Right, back to this weekend.
Saturday started very early at 4am, when I got up to go and lead a Dawn Chorus walk at Howick Hall, just up the road. At first it seemed quiet outside then a Blackbird began proceedings, followed from our garden by Skylark, Grasshopper Warbler and Wren, while a Barn Owl carried prey over the back field to a nearby nest.
The walk started at 5am continuing until 7am. It was ticket 'do' with breakfast included for the 30 or so attendees. The walk was sold out I'm glad to say, as we limit it to this number. Any more would detract from the very reason people turn up at that time in the morning. 44 sp were recorded during the time and guests even managed a bonus Red Squirrel from feeders at the tea room as they ate breakfast. Bird highlights included Lesser Whitethroat, Gadwall and Tawny owl, all new for these, now annual, early wanders.
I spent the day in tired daze despite having a couple of hours dozing when I got home.
At 7pm, I was just about to leave home to collect Jane from the train station, when news came through of three Dotterel just down the road at Boulmer, so I carried out my taxi duty and off we went to see if these harlequin plovers were still there.
Luckily they were, in the same field as those Shorelarks from the other week, and we were well pleased to see that all three were lovely bright females. Dotterels carry out role and plumage reversal during breeding. Like phalaropes, it is the male who is dull and carries out all domestic duties while the female is brightly flamboyant. Unfortunately they were too distant for anything other than a record photo, but they really brightened up the field as they periodically ran around, punctuated by prolonged rests down in the barley. I dont think I have seen adult Dotterel in the county before but have seen several juveniles. Its a long while since my last one...
|Dotterel in the gloom...|
A return to Boulmer this morning for better pics of the Dotterel failed as they had departed overnight. Some compensation was had by the presence of a male Whinchat and 4 Wheatears, while 145 and 70 Barnacle Geese flew N along the shore. One male Wheatear struggled with a beetle, possibly a vine weevil, that had become entangles in some sheep wool...
|Wheatear with beetle seen here in the sheeps wool...|
|Some of the migrating Barnacle Geese today.|
Really the wind had us defeated, but we tried, coming up with Grasshopper, Sedge and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. A female Wheatear was on the pond edge while a female Brambling was held up on her way north by this awful wind.
|A fw fem Brambling, looking tired near the Long Nanny car park.|
|And while northern birds are still migrating, this juvenile Song Thrush shows an already successful breeding season for its parents...|