Wednesday, 24 August 2016

spring again

A bird appears. Silky smooth and dark like chocolate in the enveloping shadow cast by the aspens on the other side of the drove.
It's an upright bird, not a creeper- not a lawn hopper- it's feet never touch the ground.
Then it's away, flashing first across the hollow shadow, then a sunlit bush and over the crowning ash trees.

Further along the drove two Willow Warblers, mustard bellied youngsters, dart among the elm leaves, stopping only to practice next summer's tune. A Chiffchaff joins them and all of a sudden it's as if May has returned full of Spring-Song.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

reason to wander

I've been busy with lots of painting for various bird reports recently, and that has meant I haven't allowed myself time off to take in the sights of late summer as I would have wished. What i needed was an excuse to get away, and as I've got a Little Stint to paint, what better reason to drive up to the coast- just to get some reference you understand.
There have been stints seen at titchwell recently, and knowing how close you can often get to them there, i packed my sketchbook and headed off. I wanted to be at titchwell in the evening when the crowds had gone and the light less glaring, and luckily there was a perfect place to head for before hand, just to waste an hour or two. I had seen a report from Snettisham of a Wryneck seen in the morning, so i strolled along the bank in search of it.There was no sign of any other birder about, and there was very little activity in the early afternoon heat. A dry breeze lulled the low bushes behind the sea wall. The odd Whitethroat flicked among the brightening berries and a Linnet creaked its tune. A pale bird perched up and proved to be a Winchat. The Wryneck could be anywhere by now, and I turned back. 
A bird sprang from a small hawthorn bush- like a small thrush, or a large sylvia warbler- or... a Wryneck! it flew across the reedy pool and sheltered in the shade of a bush, then briefly settled in a bramble patch and was gone, flipping behind the sprawling tangle and out of sight. I waited, but it did not reappear, and I had a stint to sketch.

 Titchwell dozed in the afternoon sun. Ruff wandered along the muddy edges while hundreds of other waders loafed on the islands- oystercatchers spread out near some large gulls, godwits just off a spur switching like weather vanes as the wind began to strengthen. A party of terns settled down, only to be blown up into the air. They whipped across the lagoon then tacked back to the start, grounding alongside the Black-headed Gulls. Three Greenshank called as they sped out onto the freshmarsh, leaving their cousins the Redshanks to sleep in a sizeable gathering on a samphire covered mudbar.
As the evening wore on a Spoonbill flew over, and as I turned to the west, a flock of more than a dozen more lazily circled in the pink sky, disappearing near the glittering creek.
There was no stint. Knot, Dunlin, Golden and grey Plover all vied for my attention, but as the day faded I realised I was not going to get what I'd come for. But that doesn't matter for now.