15th Nov. I feel at my best when birding and this past few days the birding has been at its best! Wednesday saw me at Pestwick Carr amongst the flocks of Fieldfare. Persistence meant that I ticked off the Great Grey Shrike, seen at distance, but very well. Only my second sighting of this species in the UK and a county tick.
Equally rewarding was watching the Short Eared Owls, four up in the air at one time in very good lighting conditions. I heard mention of someone sighting thirteen Short Eared Owls and one Long Eared Owl, all up in the air at one time earlier in the day. It seems they had likely been disturbed by a predatory fox.
16th Nov. This morning I was back to Prestwick Carr, this time with Tom. Sadly we did not find the Great Grey Shrike on this occasion, but it was not for want of trying. Never the less we were rewarded for our efforts in the cold, with flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing. Tom also picked up a perched Marsh Harrier. We both then watched it fly off to the south of the Carr. Bumped into PCW and regrettably didn’t think to tell him of that sighting. Apologies for that, but pleased to meet.
Great atmosphere on the Carr as we listened to the calls of Willow Tits whilst catching sight of a single Short Eared Owl which flew very low before dropping onto the ground again. Common Buzzards and Kestrels were also seen well. A male Bullfinch showed up well in the hedge. Unable to track down the Great Grey Shrike, we decided to head of towards Holywell Pond and to come back later in the afternoon.
Holywell Pond was at its most quiet with little about apart from Teal, Lapwing and gulls which comprised of Black Headed, Common, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls. The new feeding station was bare of food, so not even the Tree Sparrows were about today. Work was being done at the members hide by volunteers in preparation for a walk down there on Saturday. We did find Greenfinches and a Treecreeper at the old feeding station. Neither Tom nor I had seen Treecreeper there before.
It was now time to head for Seaton Sluice and a much needed lunch at the fish and chip café. Well satisfied we headed towards the Tower Hide area where there were numbers of waders including a flock of thirty-one Knot. Other waders seen on the coast today were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. Just like Holywell Pond the sea was at its most quiet. Two or three Guillemots were picked up, as were four Red Throated Divers, Eider and Wigeon. Cold though it was the hide wasn’t required, as there was little wind and by now the sky was almost clear of cloud. There was a mist far out to sea. Rock Pipit was seen.
We were on four wheels today so the walking was limited and we set off towards St Marys Island. The wetland, which on first appearance seemed very quiet, was checked out and we did eventually find numbers of Teal, two Wigeon and nine Gadwall. A male Reed Bunting was seen in a bush someway off in the fields. We gave the area a good searching eventually finding the likes of Song Thrush filling itself with berries (the first one I’ve seen for a while) Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. A small bird dropped into the willows, but we never did trace that one.
Both cream crackered today, me with my birding activity and Tom with his, plus some rather more serious commitments in his case, we decided that a return to Prestwick was going to be a ‘Carr too far’, so we contented ourselves with our achievements of the week so far and headed for home.
We’d clocked up sixty-seven species during our few hours out today and very pleasing that was. Never the less even more pleasing has been the quality of the birds seen this week. Birding doesn’t come much better than this and it hasn’t rained at all! The all weather birders (we’ll be getting soft with this ongoing good weather!) have decided to try and crack the one hundred species in a day record sometime in the future. Watch this space. I think I may be having a rest day tomorrow, but I shall dream about that tonight however!