Day 2 dawned nice and early; I must have managed at least 2 minutes sleep the previous night! Thankfully I slept in the bus all the way to our first port of call; Dunwich Heath which is just outside of Minsmere RSPB. It appears the Dartford Warblers have taken a right hammering this winter as they were certainly fewer on the ground than I had last year. However the weather wasn't great either so this may have contributed to the fact I only had 1 good view of a bird perched on top of some whin bushes. Some of our group also had a flyover Hobby and a distant Turtle Dove.
After this we headed to Minsmere RSPB and we headed straight towards the Bittern Hide due to the fact a Purple Heron had been seen there the previous few days and we were pretty keen to see it. I managed to see the Purple Heron last year very distantly so was keen to get a good view of these scarce herons. We waited for a long time and we had cracking views of Marsh Harriers as always as well as a few Bitterns and some of the other lads saw Hobby but I didn't see any whilst on the reserve. A Kingfisher shot past me whilst I was scanning for the Purple Heron which was a late addition to the year list. I have struggled with this species so far this year. 2 Spoonbills flew over distantly and landed out of view whilst waiting, they later showed again but only in flight.We waited for about 1 hour 30 minutes and we hadn't seen the Purple Heron and one of the lads said we should have 10 more minutes. Then about 1 minute later the call went up from other birders in the hide; they had picked up the Purple Heron in flight to the left of the hide. We got onto it quickly and had about a 10 second flight view before it landed again in the reedbed. Smiles all around, especially from the guy who had been in the hide about 5 hours waiting to get that shot of the bird! We had a walk around the rest of the reserve and hides and added escaped Greater Flamingo to our list as well as another Spoonbill! There was a Yellow-legged Gull reported but we didn't get a chance to see that; however we did get some simply superb views of breeding Mediterranean Gulls in full supper plumage. We missed the Little Gulls that were present as well as Little Stint; you could say these were Little on the ground (HO-HO).
(Mediterranean Gulls - Andrew Kinghorn)
(Greater Flamingo - Andrew Kinghorn)
We had already had an excellent 1 and a half days but we still had a lot of time left on the holiday. We took a wrong turn whilst coming out of Minsmere but that didn't matter as we spotted 2 Turtle Doves flying into a tree beside the road. Bus pulled over, all men out. They flushed from the tree and then flew onto some overhead cables where we had fairly good views before they flew off into the distance and we didn't see them again. These birds are always a pleasure to see! From here we headed to the North Norfolk coast for our next target species. We had been told that they had moved from the previous site that we checked the night before; all we got was Barn Owl at the traditional site for the birds and it looked like my mates tip off about the new breeding site was correct. We arrived at the site that was very close to the coast and set up our scopes. We enjoyed lovely views of a Hobby which had caught what looked like a House Martin, the bird was sat ontop of a hay bale eating its prey item. Then we saw that beautiful male Montagu's Harrier as he flew over his reedbed territory with hawthorn trees dotted about. We had good views of him especially when he perched on a hawthorn for a couple of minutes. Got a chance to see how long and thin these superb harriers look and the lovely pattern to the tail sides. Super bird! Not so super was the fact they have moved from their traditionally held site probably because of disturbance. We had planned to go for the Nightjars however it was to windy and we decided to call that off and instead finish the day early.
(Hobby - Andrew Kinghorn)
214 - Dartford Warbler - Dunwich Heath, Suffolk
215 - Kingfisher - Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk
216 - Purple Heron - Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk
217 - Turtle Dove - Minsmere RSPB (near), Suffolk
218 - Montagu's Harrier - undisclosed site, Norfolk
Stay tuned for Norfolk Day 3, will be coming soon!
Until next time, Foghorn out!