Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Saved by Insects - Weeting on Bank Holiday

Travel relaxations implemented, so blew the dust off the scope and headed off to Weeting for some summer sun and birds. By sheer coincidence Mike was there too! I had a target list of Stone Curlew, Tree Pipit, Turtle Dove, and coincidentally so did Mike.

We knew the reserve would probably be closed, and it was. We had hoped Stone Curlews would be in the field opposite but they weren't, or at least not visible to us. I assume we were a bit early, in that the Stone Curlews are probably still happily raising chicks on the reserve, blissfully unaware they are not raising young birds to fly back to wherever next year, but simply spending all their time and energy making a snack for Mr Fox. Soon the inevitable will happen and the birds will spend the rest of the summer in the field over the road rooted to the spot in a state of catatonic existential misery. 

We got Cuckoo, Lapwing, Curlew, and loads of Rooks, but nothing else. We then headed up the path in the woods north, and soon had a dragonfly. Clearly a Chaser, I went through my mental check list - four spots on the wings? No. Broad depressed body? No. Well I guess that just leaves Scarce Chaser. Fortunately Mike was on the case and was soon confirming that wow yes that absolutely was a Scarce Chaser! Long story short there were quite a few, over 10 in total across the woods. We did get some great views of those chevrons down the spine and the clear yellow flush at the base of the wings. I even saw one 'breathing' in that the two halves of its abdomen rhythmically slightly separated. No idea what that was about. (From twitter it seems Monday was the day when lots emerged).

A little further on we saw our first Green Hairstreak. We went on to see a further ten or so, with some nice views of closed wings on broom. Another first for the year. Smashing butterflies.

We walked over to Hockwold Heath which looked splendid but in the heat the birds were hard to come by. We had a nice pair of Stonechats and more Curlew, and were pretty sure we heard a Stone Curlew but couldn't see one. 

We walked back with Mike picking out some Roe Deer hiding on the wood - very hard to see - to complete an excellent list despite not having seen any of our target birds.

We though we would try Santon Warren, and to our surprise found that whereas in March you more or less have the place to yourself apart form a handful of birders, on a May bank holiday it is heaving.  We parked (luckily just two spaces), dodged the picnics, walked out our usual walk west and found a Tree Pipit immediately flying up and doing its song flight. Hard to come by now in the south we were very pleased. That was just about the last decent bird we saw, but we to a Broad-bodied Chaser perching nicely, showing us the clear difference in shape to Scarce, and a nice row of yellow flank spots. Then on the way back a Light Emerald Moth, which I think is quite common but was nevertheless a nice surprise for us.

So, that was it. Great to be out and seeing nature in full flow across many different classes. Birding is back!

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