Saturday, 21 July 2012

July 2012

As everybody is fully aware, this summer has been pretty naff, a non-starter in many respects with the more than familiar wind and/or rain making an appearance most, if not everyday! I have however used this to my advantage, and so have been working every hour physically possible in order to fund my final year at uni, the big autumn birds and forthcoming trips. I am ashamed to say that this has limited my time in the field to near nothing so I have seen very little (as have most this time of year), but July still hasn't passed without at least one highlight!

I have never been very successful with 'orange-billed' Terns in the past, having missed or dipped all of them at least once, missing the Mudeford Elegant, dipping the Suffolk Lesser Crested in 2005, and both the Welney Caspian and Welsh Royal in 2009, so when news broke of another Caspian Tern in Norfolk I was more than cautious before dashing off. Infact I didn't dash off at all, and left it to the following day. Throughout the day the bird had been typically mobile commuting between sites on a 10 miles stretch of the River Yare but always seemed to return to the same pool at Buckenham Marshes.

I teamed up with Dan Houghton the next day (19th), who had also managed to wangle a day off work. Leaving about 90 minutes before any news we were already half way there when confirmation it was still in the area was received. By late morning we arrived at Buckenham Marshes and walked the short distance to the pool by the old windmill where we immediately clapped eyes on the Caspo dwarfing the Black-headed Gulls.What a beast! The bird slept for a good 30 minutes before becoming more unsettled when it then left high in the direction of Strumpshaw Fen. Walking back round to the car, we waited for the bird to come back along the river and hopefully over our heads. It didn't disappoint and did exactly that, providing us both with very impressive views!! 

The rest of the month was predictably very quiet and traditional breeding birds that I usually see in the New Forest this time of year ie Honey Buzzards were very hard and seemingly non-existent at at least one normally reliable site. Things did actually pick up a little on a county level in the last few days of the month with a Red-backed Shrike at Cheriton - unfortunately I was at work and it had already departed by the time I got there the next morning. Wader passage was also on the up with firstly a Little Stint on Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington (28th) and then a Pectoral Sandpiper appearing on Normandy Lagoon (29th) with another Little Stint, and a single Wood Sandpiper on the Shoveler Pools. The Pec quite possibly being the same unidentified bird I saw drop in distantly with 6-8 Dunlin on Fishtail on the 28th, before it flew off over the seawall literally seconds later. This early wader movement is likely to relate to the poor breeding season they have had with birds moving South earlier than normal, from our point of view at least some autumn passage is underway!

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