Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Grumpy man birding

In grumpy mode today. Titchwell or the Brecks? Titchwell has had a good run but surely there's nothing there in the middle of June, and the Brecks are bursting with really easy ticks, so the Brecks it is. First up King's Wood. The place with the highest concentration of Woodlarks in East Anglia. Well not when I'm there. Then as I'm leaving an old chap engages me in conversation, and yes its a pleasure to talk to him, but there are ticks to be had.

On to Mickle Mere for the Glossy Ibis. After getting lost down myriad tiny roads I find it, and its a gem of a reserve, a shallow mere in Breckland with lots of waterfowl - Shoveler, Shelduck, Teal, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Little Egret. Just one bird missing. A local pops up to tell us what a marvellous reserve it is, smashing views of Cuckoos etc and the Glossy Ibis will be along soon, which it isn't. We are swapping tails and anecdotes and I am just about to deliver the side-splitting punch-line when the local says - "its just there behind you" and I think well that's a bit rude interrupting my tale, and that isn't the punchline anyway, when I realise he is referring to the Ibis, and as I turn round I get a nano-second of black something going into a willow. He is sure that was it, and I am confident of two things; he is right, and it isn't coming out of there any time soon.

So desperation mounting and on to Weeting Heath. Surely, surely, this time a year tick. The Stone Curlew chicks have apparently just been eaten by a fox, but there is a walk through the woods opposite with lots of great heathland birds including the recently bereaved Stone Curlews. Head down and off I go, meeting a couple of genial old birders who inform me I have walked past the birds. I retrace my steps, set up scope, and there are a couple of Stone Curlew, some way apart, sitting morosely looking for all the world like two birds who have flown a couple of thousand miles for the sole purpose of breeding and just watched their children being eaten. If I have ever seen two more miserable looking birds then I cannot remember it. Onwards to the top of the forest and a watchpoint "Tree Pipit, woodlark, can't miss 'em". The words of doom. I get there and sure enough there is nothing. Hang on, some Curlew, and something singing from a tree. It is probably the Pipit but I have no audio media with me and I have to wait to get home to discover that yes, it probably was, but it doesn't show and certainly doesn't do a parachute-song-flight thing, so it avoids being added to the year list.

And then something unexpected. Subsequently I find this is quite a good record for the site; its a male Marsh Harrier. And yes its nice to see but there are flocks of these things not far away.

Finally I get lost coming back to the path and end up being dumped out on a flat straight A road for the walk back to the car with drivers hurtling past at speed. Oh well. I'm sure there was nothing at Titchwell. Oh hang on, there was this.

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