I began my two day road trip early, and was on the road just after six. The first stretch of the drive was long and dull, and by eleven I was passing Cambridge and fancied a break. I headed for Paxton Pits, where I hoped to see (or at least hear) a Nightingale. However, it was not to be, and a short visit produced little other than a few Common Terns and Great-Crested Grebes. I also heard a Lesser Whitethroat as well as plenty of Garden Warblers and Blackcaps. There were some decent insects about, and I managed the following pictures:
In some ways the insects made up for the lack of birds, as both Banded Demoiselle (middle picture) and Scarce Chaser (bottom picture) were new species for me! (The top picture shows a Brimstone butterfly).
After another hour of driving, I arrived at Lakenheath RSPB (Suffolk), where I planned to spend a few hours. It was now about 12:30 and the temperature had risen to around 28-30C! I headed out onto this large reserve, and quickly saw a number of wetland species including Reed Warbler, Kingfisher, Kestrel and Common Tern. Further on, beyond the joist Fen, I enjoyed good views of several Marsh Harriers and even managed to see a pair carrying out a food pass! There were also a few Hobby around, but views were poor.
A little bit further, I came across my target species for this reserve. A pair of Common Crane poked their heads above the long grass, but views were distant and I only stayed for a short while. Here is an extremely poor quality phone-scoped record shot. If you squint you might just be able to make it out…
A few Hobby were now showing much better over the path as I headed back, and I enjoyed some very good views of them.
Weeting Heath was the next destination. The target species here was Stone Curlew, and it only took a few minutes for one to show up. It was quite distant though, so I didn’t even manage a record shot of it. However, it did stay on view for quite a while, running around and feeding on the breckland.
As I walked out of the hide, I heard the familiar call of one of the crest species. After a while I picked it out in the canopy directly above me, and it revealed itself to be a Firecrest! Presumably one of the breeding birds I had been told were nearby.
With the remaining few hours of light, I walked a few miles through the area across the road, where I was told there were Woodlark and Turtle Dove, but I failed to see either, or indeed much at all, other than a few Yellowhammer and a Tree Pipit. At dusk, I got back into the car and took the long drive to my Dad’s house in Bracknell where I would spend the night.
Post for day 2 to follow shortly…