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Friday, 5 June 2009

Third sight of Black- winged Pratincole

A one hundred and forty mile round trip, to some arable fields just inland of Thornham in North west Norfolk was required this evening after work in order to see my third ever Black- winged Pratincole. The exact site was viewed from a small road, looking through a gap in the hedge into an arable field sporting nesting Lapwing and even nesting Avocet too! Looking closer, I could see the dark Bourneville chocolate- coloured back of the Black- winged Pratincole and compared to Collared it showed more black on its bill with the red restricted just to the base of the bill. It also showed noticeably more black on its lores than Collared. The pale cream throat bordered by a thin black line did not stand out so much against its whitish breast. The Black- Winged Pratincole is a very rare vagrant to these shores, which was almost definately blown across by the strong easterly winds we experienced in May. It is only my second Norfolk record of this species and my first sighting of this species since I saw one at Titchwell in July 1999 & Livermere in West Suffolk, 16 years ago in September 1993. Its breeding range is restricted to the steppes of south-east Europe and southern Russia. This bird is almost surely the same bird that commuted between 2 sites of Grove Ferry and Stodmarsh in Kent, earlier in May. This bird is also following the same pattern commuting mainly between Titchwell RSPB reserve and the arable fields at Thornham and occasionally visiting Holme too.
The bird sat for most of the time during the evening, situated just a metre left of the Lapwing. It then walked around from time to time once flicking its wings showing its distinctive black underwings and repeated this action several time before sitting down again, occasionally disappearing from sight behind a clod of earth (its back was a much darker brown than the colour of the clods of earth around it)
It then crouched right down looking for the world it was roosting before it suddenly stood up again. A wonderful bird which sadly didn't hawk for insects due to the cold weather and overcast conditions, a real contrast to the weather from a week ago. No photos I'm afraid as the bird was too far away to photograph but reasonable views were obtained through the telescope. At the back of the field, a Hare ran and a male Marsh harrier patrolled the edge of the field.
Back at a supermarket site neat Great Yarmouth, the first Bee Orchids were starting to flower today.
Yesterday morning I also noticed Spotted Orchids starting to flower near Corton woods.

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