Thursday, 13 April 2017

Spooning at Night

Well Tuesday night ended not how I was expecting it too!

Whilst I was at work (until 10pm) Mr White texted with news that two Spoonbills were on Black Hole Marsh.  For an Axe year lister Spoonbill is a bird you want to see, some years you will get several, but other years you may get one or even none. I had to see these birds...

The skies were clear, I knew it was a full moon, and Spoonbills are big and white... I had come up with a cunning plan! At 22:10 I pulled into Black Hole Marsh car park where Tim met me, and we walked up to the Tower Hide. The view from the Tower Hide with my naked eye at 22:15 was this...

Now I really don't praise my optics as much as they deserve, but wow, just wow. My Nikon Monarch Binoculars and Telescope literally brought the marsh alive, and there as clear as (not quite but almost) day were the two Spoonbill. I was expecting them to be fast asleep on one of the islands, but in fact they were constantly feeding, which I guess explains why Spoonbills so often sleep for hours upon end during the day!  Watching two Spoonbills sieve the water for food with those long sweeping neck movements, surrounded by numerous Shelduck and Grey Heron at 22:20, with just the slightest of natural light from the full moon was an absolutely awesome experience.

The next morning (Wednesday) we had cloud! And lots of it, so I was out early hoping to cash in on the surely guaranteed mega fall of spring migrants.  Well no, there was no mega fall, there was definitively a bit of a fall, but it was just Willow Warblers and Wheatears, and not many of them. There was enough to keep me walking around the next corner hoping for something better, but the best I managed was our second Sedge Warbler of the spring, this one singing on Stafford Marsh (with the Borrow Pit bird still in situ). Both Spoonbills were still present and one Cattle Egret (which I think is the only one left?) was with the cattle on Colyford Common - making this a four Heron species day for me!

 Here's some pics (and I won't ever make any excuses for too many Wheatear photos!)...

Male Wheatear Seaton Marshes 12/04/17

Male Wheatear Seaton Marshes 12/04/17

Male and female Wheatears Seaton Marshes 12/04/17

Day Spoonbills... so boring compared with night Spoonbills!

A nice Devon Red and our last remaining Cattle Egret?

There was one last surprise for me on Wednesday, an even flukier Osprey than my first of the spring! I was out driving the work's van up Colyford Road, could see the gulls making a fuss and my eyes locked on to an Osprey in with a bunch of spiraling gulls somewhere above the Estuary just south west of Tower Hide.  I had to put my eyes back to the road, and by the time I'd found somewhere safe to pull in I couldn't pick it up again, although could tell it was probably still around as the waders and ducks on the Estuary were now going nuts.  Turns out from others already in the Tower Hide that it then spent the next half hour on our little Estuary, before flying off east. Yes I would have liked better views but pleased to have seen it nonetheless.  I understand our third Osprey of the spring was seen this afternoon, although I couldn't pick it up from my house so no such luck for me today.

This morning I had virtually no time, just half an hour for a quick scoot around the marshes. Couldn't find anything obvious new, except for a second singing Sedge Warbler on the Borrow Pit. One male seems to be happy on the island, with another along the back edge where a small line of reeds are (this is the one that's been there since Monday). No Reed Warbler yet for me.

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