Sunday 30 July 2023

Spring becomes Summer birding

Late May birding, a good time to look for returning Honey Buzzards, and the well known site Welbeck raptor watchpoint, Notts. was a must visit, especially as the weather was good for raptors to be taking to the skies. Looking north from the road over the lake and Welbeck Estate my dad and I had several sightings over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Sightings not guaranteed here, I've seen birders moan about the lack of sightings, and others have the luck of connecting within a couple of minutes of arrival joining birders who were having their first sighting in over x hours. It's definitely a site that deserves no less than a patient watch and when the HBs are not on show it's a good spot to study other raptors. Of note were Goshawk, a passage Osprey seen during HB interludes with Red Kite and Buzzard commonplace, Hobby also showed. The roadside hedgerow held singing Garden Warbler, Blackcap and both summering Whitethroats, and a brief view of a Banded Demoiselle dragonfly.

Back to the HBs and a female patrolled the area alone on the first visit late into the watch (6 hours in), and then it was joined by a lighter plumaged male the following day on a couple of sorties. It was nice to see this characteristic, perhaps diagnostic, patrolling behaviour as they move along over the trees. We were lucky with the eventual views of the female on the first visit, distant at first then it came close by, shown below.

Female White-tailed Eagle G318 returned to the Peak District for its third summer. I had a couple of sightings during this period when a Red Kite and Buzzard showed their displeasure to the wanderer from the Isle of Wight scheme. Hobby sightings seem to be on the up in late Spring in these uplands, whether or not they are passage birds may be difficult to tell over this vast expanse. Ring Ouzels and Stonechats defended their moorland territory by song and the moorland edge held Nightjar and Woodcock as dusk fell. Late in the period Redpoll and Siskin called overhead as they wandered around a tree cloaked moorland reservoir, where a single Crossbill called from the treeline, a species that has been more or less absent in recent years at this once reliable site. 

Back at Rainham Marshes RSPB on the edge of London a pulse of 30 Ringed Plovers stopped off in Aveley Bay alongside 2 Grey Plovers in early June before heading north month. Male Ruffs (2) in summer attire mid month on the rapidly diminishing Target Pools, soon to be replaced by returning Black-tailed Godwits on the 1st day of July. A mid June Stonechat noteworthy and a couple of adult summer Mediterranean Gulls over the Thames, 4 Cuckoos and a Hobby on the reserve and further west in London singing Black Redstarts served as a reminder that it was still summer even though the weather into July may have suggested otherwise. An increase in Yellow-legged Gulls along the Thames shore being characteristic of the season, and a selection are shown below. Saturday 8th July was a 7 gull species day, the 5 commoner ones included a 1st summer Common Gull, plus several Yellow-legged Gulls and a bedraggled 1st summer Mediterranean Gull that sneaked on by heading down river. An adult female Peregrine gave a juvenile female hunting lessons that morning where the youngster was finding its talons and almost playing with resting Black-headed Gulls. They were not at all amused as they didn't see it as a game!

South Hertfordshire yielded Marbled White butterflies in a local grassland as June became July, when an evening walk produced a Little Owl pestered by breeding Swallows. Hobby flew by on a couple of evenings, and on another a flyby immature Peregrine.

Back home for a weekend mid July and the Dearne Valley or as posted on social media, "Camargue-upon-Dearne", held an immature Night Heron and a feeding group of 6 Spoonbills at RSPB Adwick Washland. The Night Heron and a couple of the Spoonbills shown below. One of the Spoonbills was colour-ringed identified with 2 green rings separated by a black flag on its right leg. Turns out it was ringed as a pullus in SW Netherlands in June 2018 and seen at Hickling Broad, Norfolk in June 2023. A few miles away the breeding Black-winged Stilts at Edderthorpe Flash showed well as did a Hobby and resting Great White Egret.

More average photos uploaded at 'Latest UK Bird Photos'. Please enjoy.