Tuesday, 24 July 2012

22nd July 2012

With a bit of sunshine and warm weather punctuating the rainy season it was perhaps the best shot at Honey Buzzard in quite a while. A bird that has long evaded my list; I never quite got around to visiting the traditional sites and some of these have become less reliable in recent years.

Martyn and I headed north to Welbeck, near Clumber Park, Notts. Probably the nearest site from the West Midlands, although it too has also suffered a poor Honey Buzzard season.

On the way up, a call in at Croxall Lakes. Still no shore or wader scrapes. Here we noted 5 Oystercatcher, around 7 Common Terns, 1 Little Egret, 1 Peregrine, Kingfisher and a female Kestrel eating a vole.

Kestrel - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

Common Tern - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

All very nice, but we were hungry for more raptor action. Welbeck did not disappoint. On arrival at 10:00am a Red Kite was on show, high up. Despite the news that the HB season had been ‘diabolical’ with sightings only once or twice a week, we were lucky enough to get on to one around 10:15am. Although this was fairly distant, the distinctive profile of Honey Buzzard could be noted; a longer-winged, bulkier bodied and long-tailed Buzzard than Common.

Although the HB drifted up and out of sight and was not seen again, the action did not end there. A bit later in the morning an Osprey performed well over the pool and was mobbed by Buzzards and a Kestrel. 2 Sprarrowhawks were also noted.

Shortly after noon, we headed back towards Staffs – Blithfield in particular where the rest of the arvo was spent.

This time last year a visit to Blithfield provided a vast array of wader species (in Midlands terms), in comparison to what we have now (these included Greenshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and a staggering 27 LRPs). Of course this is entirely due to the volume of water probably being twice what it was then! One good thing about this very hot weather, if it can just drop water levels a few inches we may yet see some wader return passage.

Noted were 3 Oystercatcher, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 46 Common Terns (only 1 juv).

The most interesting bird of the afternoon, was this 3rd CY Yellow-legged Gull. Note retained immature feathers. Many of the feathers looked bleached out and ready to drop. It will be interesting to see how it looks in a few weeks, should it stick about. The gull also had a rather stonking bill, of almost Caspo like proportions.

YLG - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

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