May 2005

In early May I saw a lesser whitethroat and 2 little ringed plovers on the Severn estuary. Several ringed plovers moved through Barrow tanks, including this one living up to its name by bearing a BTO metal ring.

little ringed ploverringed plover

A trip to the Somerset Levels on 8th May produced 2 cuckoos, about 20 hobbies, and a marsh harrier, and I photographed singing male whitethroat and willow warbler.

whitethroatwillow warbler

marsh harrier hobby

On 11 May I heard 2 singing nightingales near Taunton.

I walked on Crook Peak on 14 May. Many of the pipits here perch in trees and could be mistaken for tree pipits. However, good views of the bird below showed the long claw and thin bill with a yellow lower mandible characteristic of a meadow pipit. I also photographed a male linnet.

meadow pipitmeadow pipit

meadow pipitlinnet

In mid-May I drove to Norfolk to do something I had wanted to do for several years, but never managed to fit in because of a hectic work schedule with exams and first year teaching at this time of year. Late in the afternoon of Sunday (15 May) I drove to Lakenheath in Suffolk. That evening I walked onto the RSPB reserve, and saw 2 hobbies, a barn owl, 2 marsh harriers, heard a cuckoo and 3 grasshopper warblers. The next morning I was on the reserve by 4.45h. Immediately at the first plantation I heard the fluty song of a male GOLDEN ORIOLE. I subsequently located 2 further singing males, another in plantation 1, the other in plantation 2. At 05.00h a male flew high over my head, over the Little Ouse to a poplar plantation on the other side of the river. A nightingale sang as I drove to the reserve. I also saw a singing grasshopper warbler. I arrived at Weeting heath reserve at 07.30, and eventually located a STONE CURLEW from the west hide. I saw another from the east hide later. Also here were lots of singing woodlark, and a spotted flycatcher flying into a nestbox. 2 stock doves fed with the woodpigeons.

woodlark carrying foodstock dove

I was at the raptor viewpoint at Great Ryburgh at 10.00h, but the weather deteriorated rapidly. Saw 2 marsh harriers, a hobby and a greenshank from here. Final stop was Burnham Norton to see the STILT SANDPIPER. It flew from the pool where it was feeding about 30 mins after I arrived. Also in the area were 4 little terns, avocets, 2 Egyptian geese, 2 marsh harriers and an unidentified stint. A poor, hand-held digiscoped shot of the sandpiper is below.

stilt sandpiperavocet

There were at least 3 singing male yellowhammers in fields W of Flax Bourton on 18 May, with 4 other birds sighted. A new bird for the garden was a spotted flycatcher on 19 May, providing a nice distraction from marking exam papers. The photo below was taken through my living room window. A hobby flew over Flax Bourton on 20 May.

spotted flycatcher

On 25 May an evening trip was planned to listen for quail. However, Michael Pocock persuaded me to go to Cotswold Water Park first, where we saw a whiskered tern on pit 16 (below left), together with several common terns (below right). When we eventually got to Marshfield we failed to hear any quail in an extensive search at dusk, but did see red-legged partridges and one singing male corn bunting.

whiskered terncommon tern

On the bank holiday weekend we had an evening family walk in the Mendips, and saw 2 nightjars and heard 2 juvenile long-eared owls. I heard a male QUAIL singing on the Somerset Levels at 18.00h on 28th.

During an evening trip to Goldcliff wetlands reserve on 31 May, I saw feral bar-headed and greylag geese. Highlights were a drake ring-necked duck on the pool nearest to the estuary, and the two immature spoonbills. Notice the pale bill tip and black wingtips of these birds. The birds interact with one another quite frequently. One is wearing a colour ring, and apparently came from Holland. The photographs below were taken with a Nikon D2X camera at a distance of about 100m.

spoonbills and little egret spoonbills and little egret

spoonbills and little egretspoonbill

immature spoonbill