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Saturday, 30 April 2011

White-winged Black & Bittern at Minsmere



Somewhat contradictory BINS messages stating there was a White-winged Black tern, then it was a Black and then back to White-winged Black again on the North scrape at Minsmere. It took a ridiculous hour just to get through Lowestoft the traffic was the worst I have ever seen. Plus I had to stop and remove a dead tree that had blocked the road just before Westleton.
I finally walked into the North hide at 12.30pm nobody had the bird so scanning around I saw 3 Ruff (1 male) and 3 sp Bar- tailed Godwit. Finally I picked up the excellent White- winged Black Tern, with all black head, body and underwing coverts (with just a little white around the base of the bill) and contrasting white upperwings. A super bird, my first British one since 1996 when I famously saw one at a virtually deserted Southwold (how unusual is that?!) when I and another birder had a full adult sp bird to ourselves flying around the groynes during England's football semi- final game against West Germany first half during Euro 1996!
The White- Winged Black Tern flew along the south section of the scrape flying east past the tank traps in the back ground and almost reaching the public hide and back again.
OFB and Richard W entered and we left the hide and walking back we heard and saw a Lesser Whitethroat and heard a Nightingale briefly in the bushes too. 2 Red Admirals seen near the North bushes. Just outside the East hide looking from the tank traps concrete blocks the the Tern was now flying on the middle of the Scrape between West and East Scrape. From East Scrape the bird was flying up and down a muddy spit intersecting east/ west scrape, constantly flying over the same area obviously finding a rich source of flies. Close to East Scrape were 2 and 3 ie. 5 sp Bar-tailed Godwit, a Shovelor, Barnacle Goose and a male Pintail another male Pintail seen further back too.
At this point Paul & Jane, Ali R, Chris M and Peter N entered the hide. 
Later on, by the north bushes I heard a Nightingale and saw it briefly flit through the bushes while we unsuccessfully waited for the Nightingale to reappear I observed 2 Small Copper butterflies seen on the grass and photographed. A Whitethroat sang from the top of a bush briefly too. By the pond in the old car park, a 4 Spotted Chaser and Hairy Hawker dragonflies seen flying around and briefly perched on the reeds too.
At Island Mere, a male Marsh Harrier was seen briefly quartering the reeds and a Sand Martin overhead then a Bittern was seen in the reedy area directly in front of the hide about 30 yards away, the bird walked towards the dyke running directly running away from the hide. The bird stuck it's head up a few times then followed the path of the dyke towards the hide and then walked towards some tall reeds and reedmace to the right of the hide where incredibly it started booming and I could actually see the Bittern booming as it crouched down its body expanding and contracting as it boomed, a first as I have never before seen a Bittern boom; an exhilarating experience!
The bird then walked towards a small pool area close to the hide before disappearing from view. As we were leaving briefly saw Paul W.

4 comments:

Paul Woolnough said...

I saw the 1996 bird my only other Suffolk record and lifer at the time. Co-incided with England v Germany football match.

Have seen the three bogey birds for each of my Suffolk lists since 22 April. Woodchat shrike now on county list, gropper for Lizardland and garganey at Minsmere.

Peter Ransome said...

Well done Paul! Good to see you yesterday!
Where did you get your Gropper Fisher Row/ Oulton Marshes or Carlton Marshes?
P

Paul Woolnough said...

I had five groppers on the 22nd. Both sides of the railway along Fisher Row with the fifth away from there on Oulton Marsh.

Peter Ransome said...

Good tally of Groppers Paul!
P