Thursday, 15 September 2016

Alkbrough Flats Spoonbills

I went to Alkborough Flats with Robert Jaques in the hope of ticking the Purple Swamphen that has been there for a couple of weeks. In the end, we weren't lucky with the swamphen, but the visit was quite worthwhile as there were so many birds at the site and we had some great views of many species. We walked to the low hide overlooking the lagoon. There was a large flock of Avocets mixed with Shoveler and Shelduck feeding, and just by the shore a Spoonbill preening with a few others feeding nearby. In all, at some point 13 Spoonbills were visible from the hide, and at least four individuals were colour-ringed. A few Pintail fed on the distance. Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Ruff, Avocet and various ducks sat on the mudflats. The pinging calls of a group of Bearded tits were heard and they appeared briefly.
One of the trip highlights was watching a couple of young Water Rails on a shallow ditch by the hide. We had heard their calls, and eventually they showed, relatively well, although quite nervously: a tiny noise from the hide was followed by a rail diving into the reeds.
 When leaving the hide a group of Chub were very visible on a ditch. Many common darters and some hawkers I couldn't identify were also about.
We moved onto the path by the hillside, where some birdwatchers awaited pointing with their telescopes into a distant pool where the Purple Swamphen had previously been seen. None had seen it today, so after a little while we moved onto a sweltering tower hide for lunch. A Marsh Harrier, the only one of the day, quartered over the reedbeds, followed by mobbing Lapwing. This took the day tally to 47 species.
A selection of Spoonbill photos:

Two colour ringed Spoonbills.
Feeding Spoonbills.
Spoonbill and Avocet
Many Ruff in the reserve, this is one of three that walked past the hide.
Reed Bunting.
A male Bearded Tit, part of a small group that fed on the reeds.
One of the young Water Rails.
Group of Chub, Squalius cephalus, in a dich by the hide, a new fish for me.
Male Common Darter
Devil's Coach Horse, Ocypus olens, displaying.
A small toad, found crossing the path.
View of the reserve from the path.
One of two Small Coppers settled after a long fight with another. Other than the Small Copper, we saw Speckled Wood, Comma, and Red Admiral around the reserve.

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