The juvenile Osprey that had spent a couple of weeks at Bowyer's Water decided to relocate to Amwell so another chance to see this magnificent bird. While waiting, a juvenile Hobby put on a great display before returning to its favoured perch in a Birch tree.
The buff underparts rather than red are the key ID feature in showing it is a juvenile. Hopefully it will have a safe journey to its wintering grounds in Africa.
The Osprey was using a specially designed Osprey perch installed around 20 years ago. It shows patience is a virtue! It would scan the water from there, diving straight in and catching mostly small Perch.
It had a lot of hassle from Cormorants, Red Kite, Jackdaws and this Grey Heron.
It was good to get confirmation that the bird was ringed on the 10th July 2023 near Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. This is a photo (by Ewan Weston) I was sent through of 256 on the nest with two siblings. 256 is one of the birds with their heads down.
At one stage it even tried to land on one of the "gull goalposts"!
But the best opportunity for shots was when it went for a fly around the pit.
What a super bird and as I write this on the 19th September it has not been seen since 11.00am yesterday, so it could be on its way south! Safe journey 256!
A family of Water Voles have been showing well at Rye Meads, but before seeing them someone mentioned a strange duck at the Kingfisher Hub. I believe it is the same bird seen last year and a possible Wigeon/Pintail cross.
On the way back, the aptly named Gadwall hide produced a mass commotion of Gadwall presumably squabbling over a female.
A Little Egret was close in, giving great views.
It then flew down and proceeded to fish. It had found a shoal of baby Carp, but it was quite choosey with the ones it ate!
So finally, the Water Voles! There seemed to be at least 3 or 4 and clearly adults and young as the size difference was quite marked.
Fascinating animals to watch!
An Osprey had been sighted fishing on Bowyer's Water for a few days and then flying off with its catch towards Gunpowder Park. It was making up to three visits a day, catching Perch so time for a visit. I got there just after 9am and was chatting to Sandra and Kevin who were already in position when 10 minutes later it appeared. It did not hang about and went straight for a fish.
It had three failed attempts. I later found out it is a juvenile so still learning!
Some more shots as it tried again.
On the fourth attempt it finally caught a Perch and started to fly off.
Then the Gulls, sensing an opportunity for an easy meal, moved in!
However it hung on to its catch and the Gulls gave up. I could see the bird was ringed and some enquiries revealed it was a juvenile Scottish bird, ringed in Aberdeenshire. A truly remarkable few minutes!
After a morning of Osprey watching (blog to follow) a quick trip north to see a juvenile Black-Necked Grebe that had dropped in. Such elegant birds!
As is usually the case, always something to see here including two Spitfires a WWII flying boat, passing Marsh Harrier and two Garganey, one of which is pictured below.
Along with a couple of Common Sandpipers the main surprise was a juvenile Red Knot. It gave some great views feeding and preening at the edge of the pit.
All in all, Knot a bad day!
The flooded area on Park Mead has recently produced Spoonbill, Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin so it was no great surprise when Barry Reed found a juvenile Ruff. A walk down there from home initially drew a blank apart from a few Lapwing.
And three Common Snipe which showed well.
However a second circuit of the flood this time with Roland Powers had better results. Sadly looking into the sun so not great detail.
It then flew a short distance into a more open area and by walking round to the main path I was able to get the much better late afternoon light.
An excellent bird for the area!
For a small pit, Dernford attracts some really good birds. The news of a Wood Sandpiper there had me making the short trip up to see it. Little Grebes seem to be doing very well there with at least two pairs with young.
The Wood Sandpiper was found in the northern part of the pit and initially was difficult to see as it is a part covered by trees. However with a bit of patience it worked its way into a clearer area to allow a few shots.
Such a smart wader!
A planned outing to Oare Marshes in Kent and after a few days of good weather we hit upon a dull day with a little rain! First stop was to the slipway where we looked for the regular Bonaparte's Gull but no luck. However the Turnstones allowed for some great photo opportunities.
A walk along the sea wall allowed for some flight shots of a small party of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.
As to be expected, Redshank were fairly common feeding on the mud and then flying in to the East Flood as the tide rose.
One Whimbrel close in.
And quite a few Curlew.
View from the sea wall looking towards Hollowshore.
Again, lots of Black-tailed Godwits.
Bearded Tits were heard but not seen and we added Marsh Harrier, Wheatear and Greenshank to the list. The final wader of the day was a smart Little Stint. Record shot below.
A first Summer Black Stork had been reported for a few days just across from Oare on the Isle of Sheppey. Needless to say we made the trip round and watched from the Capel Fleet Raptor Viewpoint. Apart from a few Marsh Harriers it was quiet and after an hour or so things did not look promising. It was then located about 1/4 mile west and we walked down and had a brief but close view of it flying away before dropping down again.
Following a public footpath we headed out and then had some incredible views as it circled overhead.
What an amazing bird and even the weather had improved. A great end to the day.
With the birding fairly quiet at the moment and mixed weather, I have taken the opportunity to visit some local sites such as Amwell, Balls Wood and Rye Meads. So here are some non bird wildlife images. Starting off with an Emperor Dragonfly.
And the slightly smaller Southern Hawker.
Willow Emerald Damselflies are now a common sight in the area.
Common Darter are easy to photograph when resting but I think this is about my first decent flight shot.
And to complete the Dragonfly section an obliging Migrant Hawker at Amwell.
Reed Beetle species showing off their incredible colours.
And a Leafcutter Bee (Megachile sp) at Rye Meads.
It seems to have a poor year for Butterflies so far, but not for Jersey Tiger Moths!
And a tiny Moth - The Mint Moth.
Some of the commoner species seen include Red Admiral, Holly Blue and Brimstone.
And to finish with - Reptiles! First up, Grass Snakes at Rye Meads.
Also at Rye Meads, this beautiful Slow Worm.
It just goes to show the wonderful array of wildlife on our doorstep.
Two Montagu's Harriers (a female and juvenile) had been reported at Blue House Farm however some planned events and a day of awful weather meant waiting until Monday before a visit. Prior to this, two days before, I managed to visit Amwell and pick up this beautiful female Ruddy Shelduck.
But back to Essex! We walked down to the sea wall and headed East scanning the fields where the birds had been seen. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel were added but no sign of the Monty. A few waders were evident including Redshank, Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit.
And a few Curlew.
Smaller birds included Skylark, Linnet and Corn Bunting. I must admit after an hour and a half I was getting anxious with no sign of the Harriers. Then just as we reached the end of the sea wall to turn off to the hides I spotted the female in the distance. Thankfully she came closer and flew past and indeed was quite mobile. Good views through bins and scope. Later we were treated to both birds in the air together and the female came slightly closer to allow for some record shots.
A shame about the heat haze so not the best pictures but a magnificent, graceful bird!
A better day weather wise so a shortish trip up to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire to see what was about and I just concentrated on the dam area. There were three Common Sandpipers present but very easily spooked and I only managed a couple of shots.
As to be expected Pied Wagtails were common on the dam edge with quite a few juvenile birds about and this fine adult.
A few Yellow Wagtails were also present and I am sure numbers will build up in the next few weeks. I could not get any shots of the adult male but managed a couple of this juvenile.
It was great to see a lot of Swallows firstly near the farm and later up by the walkway to the tower just off the dam. Not sure if they had bred there but they were certainly congregating there and enjoying the sun.
Time to try and catch a few in flight! Lots of misses as they either came in too close or were too distant. Here are three of my better efforts.
But the smartest bird of the day, and much more confiding than the Common Sandpiper was this juvenile Little-ringed Plover.
And a short video clip to end with.
Always a good place for a visit!