A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Wood Sand and a showy Bittern

Last Friday evening Dave and I headed over to Hilgay Fen, a normally inaccessible reserve but which we have permission to moth trap at.  As we've got permission we feel we should try to use it regularly in order to supply plenty of good data, so despite the forecast looking a bit weaker than it had been looking we did our first moth session of the year there as much in hope than expectation.  The mothing proved poor indeed, but the trip was worthwhile - the highlight wasn't a moth at all, it was this Wood Sandpiper.

Wood Sandpiper, Hilgay Fen, 6th May

Also a single Common Sandpiper and after dark we heard both Whimbrel and Dunlin fly over.

Common Sandpiper, Hilgay Fen, 6th May

On Saturday lots of good birds turned up at Burnham Overy, so no surprise that I wasn't there.  Instead I was helping with a group at Minsmere.  We saw some good birds there too, but not so much in the way of scarce migrants.  The clear highlight was a Bittern that plonked itself down in front of Island Mere hide for a bit.  We'd heard a few booming during the morning but not seen any at all until this one turned up, but this was way better than the usual brief views of one flying over the back of the mere.

Bittern, Minsmere, 7th May

After showing well for a bit it hopped across the channel...

Bittern, Minsmere, 7th May

...after which it continued to show well.

Bittern, Minsmere, 7th May

Then it came even closer...

Bittern, Minsmere, 7th May

...before finally flying off into the reeds.

Bittern, Minsmere, 7th May

As usual Marsh Harriers provided constant entertainment...

Marsh Harriers, Minsmere, 7th May

Bearded Tits showed frequently, but only ever giving quick flight views.  We saw 3 Hobbies distantly from Island Mere hide but as we walked back one showed much more closely, albeit a little hard to see as we were looking into the sun and it kept disappearing behind the trees.

Hobby, Minsmere, 7th May

On the scrapes a pair of second-summer Mediterranean Gulls showed well.  During scans I also picked up a third second-summer bird, an adult and a first-year bird, so at least 5 Mediterranean Gulls in all.  Also 15 Kittiwakes on the scrape, a Common Sandpiper and of course plenty of Barnacle Geese.

As I drove out along the exit road after leaving the group I heard a Nightingale in full song in the roadside blackthorn.  I stopped briefly, but couldn't see it.

Finally on the way home a Red Kite flew over the road near Easton.

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