Saturday 16 June 2018

From Magical Moorlands to the Rhine Rift Valley - late Spring birding

Spring Bank Holiday and back home on the magical South Yorkshire moorlands. One of the many highlights being an Osprey moving NW along the moorland edge on the Monday having been seen off by a small Falcon and then a Buzzard. With thanks to the small Falcon whose id we (my dad, SG and myself) were trying to confirm got me on to the Osprey. The Falcon was in the process of mobbing a Buzzard and after several passes it made another swoop. I was now zoomed in on the scope and this time it's target was something different, a raptor with long primaries that had appeared low over the ridge. It had shocking white underparts contrasting with uniform brown upperwings and a white (masked) head. Not another one :) my 3rd of the year in these parts!

I pulled away from the scope and was surprised no one had shouted it out, but SG and my dad were looking at the Buzzard. By this time another Buzzard flying low over the hill added to the momentarily confusion. I shouted Osprey going right and they quickly got onto it as it glided along a ridge, and then one of the Buzzards decided to chase it off. Poor thing, it was only looking for a thermal to drift off north! In the melee the small Falcon remained labeled as such. Back on Terra Firma a pair of Ring Ouzels showed well during the visit.

Away from the moorlands twitched the Temminck's Stint at Old Moor RSPB on the Saturday (a most welcome Wath Tick - number 192) where a smart Black-necked Grebe played hide-and-seek on Wath Ings. Near the visitor's centre Dingy Skipper butterflies were showing well, a lifer!

An extended weekend visiting friends in Germany followed. Bad weather was forecast but this turned out to be way off the mark, although the first night yielded a cracking thunderstorm in the early hours. The rest of the time it was warm with in the main, sunny skies during the day, although a rogue shower struck northern Karlsruhe Friday tea time!

Onto birding where the wonderful Waghรคusel wetlands yielded several pairs of breeding Purple Herons and a couple each of (passage?) Spoonbills and Great White Egrets. Garganey present were quickly adopting eclipse plumage by this, the first weekend in June! White Storks dominated the skies where both Kites and Buzzards flew and from where a lone Hobby investigated the first pool. By the sides of which a family party of Wild Boar minded their own business, but a Fox in the undergrowth piqued the attention of the ducks sleeping on the muddy shore. Dragonflies over the pools were dominated by the presence of Black-tailed Skimmers, but we managed to see singles of Scarlet Chaser and Lesser Emperor and a new species of Damselfly for me, Red-eyed Damselfly. The Bluethroats were silent and didn't show this time, but a Savi's Warbler buzzed for a few minutes from somewhere deep within the far reedbed.

Highlight of the trip was being able to study several Lesser Purple Emperor butterflies, with most found along the hedgerows bordering the small holdings and woodland edge several kms further south within the Stutensee area. Also present here were several Red-backed Shrikes (4 or 5 territorial males), a Golden Oriole was seen to disappear into the Poplars and both Common and Black Redstarts were present and in song. The latter also a common sight singing from roof top aerials in the town. Of note and much further afield to the north Bee-eaters showed well at a disused sand quarry in the rift valley, giving stunning views from a hide.

With warm thanks to friends Chris and Sue for their kind hospitality over the weekend.

More photos from this latest trip at the Germany pdf file (2000 - date) located at 'Birding Trip Reports - Other'. Just click on the tab at the top of the page.