Red Kites and Dunlin

Red Kites and Dunlin - hoverfly
Red Kites and Dunlin – hoverfly

After missing out on three great local birds on the patch over the last few weeks – 2 Little Tern, 3 Avocet, and 1 Wood Sandpiper –  damn you work! And having today off, I headed out to Manor Farm to see what goodies were out there waiting for me.

Manor Farm

I actually arrived mid morning (Bubs needed dropping at school and I had to go buy her a Rainbows uniform), the sun was beating down and as I wandered over the Manor Farm fields the bubbling, scratchy call of House Martins and Barn Swallows calling over my head, had me anticipating what new migrants would be in since my last visit.

It wasn’t long until the first interesting bird of the day literally dropped in near my feet (actually about 3 feet away) a stunning summer plumage White Wagtail (the non resident subspecies of Alba Wagtail), a good sign of things to come maybe?

Red Kites and Dunlin

Wandering down the slope to the bridge for my first view of the water and it was clear that a small party of Dunlin was in residence, in fact 5 were feeding in front of the Bridge itself, surely another good omen of something exciting being about. Hey I couldn’t have the title Red Kites and Dunlin with out some Dunlin.

On my first scan things were a little disappointing, there were only a few Little Ringed Plover scurrying along the shore in search of a small morsel and the odd Common Redshank offering it’s piping display call, but then the waders all took to the air, the 5 Dunlin disappearing off towards Stony Stratford the Lapwings and LRP’s huddling at the far West end. A scan of the sky didn’t offer me a solution at first and then I spotted it a stunning chestnut backed, fork tailed beast of a raptor my first Red Kite of the year was speedily passing through the farm. – The Red kite from the title: Red Kites and Dunlin

As the Kite disappeared off into the distance (flying quickly below a soaring Common Buzzard) the remaining waders returned to their foraging , another scan revealed a lone Common Sandpiper picking it’s way over the detritus of the shore line and two Oysercatcher hunkered down on one of the islets. Realising there was little else on offer here I headed off around the lakes disturbing briefly a Little Egret from its roost.

Eastern End

Approaching the tailing piles at the eastern end of the pits I was greeted by the wonderful sounds of warblers, the scratchy warbles of a host of Common Whitethroat and the jumbled disjointed song of the Sedge Warbler, the distant tumbling, melodic song of the Willow Warbler could be heard intermingling with the repetitive song of the Chiffchaff, all the while above me the smallest of our hirundines the Sand Martin could be seen flitting between the lakes and the sandy piles of rock.

Northern Path

Following the Northern path, along the river Ouse, glanced up upon hearing the screeching of Common Tern and spotted in their ranks the translucent wings of an accompanying Arctic Tern.

The pools here contained some interesting, if not earth shattering birds. 2 male Pochard, still hanging around since winter, swam in amongst the resident Tufted Ducks. A lone Little Grebe (my first of the year) dived in and out of the short tufted reeds and grasses that edge the water. And the two summering Common Shelduck remain swimming.

Along the river more songs of Sedge warblerChiffchaff; and Willow Warbler could be heard. Now joined by Blackcaps. But the butterflies and Hoverflies were now taking over my watchful eyes. Orange Tips and Small Whites, joined by the garish Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock completing the tribe.

Nearing the Aqueduct I noted another song, similar to the Sedge Warblers I’d been hearing but much less disjointed. More melodic even. A few moments waiting and the sleek brown visage of a Reed Warbler put in an appearance in amongst the thin band of reeds along the River Ouse. 

A hoverfly - Red Kites and Dunlin
A hoverfly
A beetle
A beetle
A robber fly
A robber fly
Another fly
Another fly
Another Hoverfly
Another Hoverfly
Yet Another Hoverfly
Yet Another Hoverfly
Last hoverfly
Last hoverfly

Old Lock

Passing through the cattle creep I headed up past the old lock. Finding more and more warblers as I wandered. More Whitethroats and blackcaps; more Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers; and then a lone Garden Warbler (my first on the patch bringing the patch total to 116 and 99 for the year) singing its far more tuneful version of the blackcaps song.

The heat was picking up and I watched as a pair of Grey Herons thermalled up into the sky. And spotted below them either a second (or more likely the same) Red Kite; and a lone Sparrowhawk.

Ending the day with a total of 64 species I was pretty pleased. Especially when there are Red Kites and Dunlin involved. Both great patch birds.

Date: 27/04/2015
Distance: 4 Miles
Time: 3 Hours 26 mins

Full Species List

Greylag Goose1
Canada GooseX
Mute Swan3
Common Shelduck2
Eurasian TealX
Common Pochard2
Tufted DuckX
Common Pheasant2
Little Grebe1
Great Crested Grebe2
Grey Heron5Including 2 thermaling
Little Egret1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk1
Red Kite1Potentially 2
Common Buzzard1
Common MoorhenX
Eurasian CootX
Eurasian Oystercatcher2
Northern LapwingX
Little Ringed Plover5
Common Sandpiper2
Common Redshank4
Common Tern11
Arctic Tern1
Feral PigeonX
Common Wood-PigeonX
Great Spotted Woodpecker1
Eurasian Green Woodpecker1
Common MagpieX
Eurasian JackdawX
Carrion CrowX
Sand Martin2
Barn SwallowX
Common House-MartinX
Great TitX
Blue TitX
Long-tailed Tit2
Eurasian Treecreeper1
Eurasian WrenX
Willow Warbler3
Common Chiffchaff5
Sedge Warbler5
Eurasian Reed-Warbler1
Garden Warbler1
Mistle Thrush1
Grey Wagtail1
White Wagtail (alba)1
Pied Wagtail1
Meadow Pipit1
Reed BuntingX
House Sparrow2

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