Saturday, 9 June 2012

No Orioles, No Cranes but loads of Rain

I was weathered off yesterday and as such took advantage of the pissing sideways rain to head to RSPB Lakenheath. A false start getting to Fakenham without my bins meant that ~I didnt actually arrive until midday. I will claim that its a tactical move as it meant that I missed the worst of the rain although this is relative. I didnt have high hopes but I reasoned that I definietely wouldnt see anything in the holiday cottage and the north coats has been relatively dead.

On arrival a coffee allowed a squal to pass and I headed along the trail. Reed Buntings were everywhere and a Jay made a sortee to the feeders. As I walked past the first plantation a Lesser Whitethroat emerged from the nettles with a faecal sack. Breeding within a few feet of the path (turns out the reserve staff were unaware and were quite keen on this record). I got to New Fen viewpoint and settled down before the next shower arrived. Swifts were feeding low over the reeds. Pretty quickly a Bittern took off from close by and traversed the entire fen before dropping in the far corner. This was quickly followed by a Cuckoo following a similar track.

By now an RSPB group were turning up in numbers so I moved up the path. No orioles in the plantation but I soon had a pair of Marsh Harriers food passing by the path. A Bittern struck up booming not far away as well. Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard well and glimpsed in the drenched vegetation. As I stalked up I became aware of more Marsh Harriers over Joist Fen. 9 in the air at once and I think across the reserve somewhere in the region of 15-18 birds were seen. I settled down at the Joist Fen viewpoint but was joined by the RSPB group pretty quickly. I wasnt leaving this time as the weather had hit new lows with showers scudding through every few minutes. I picked up a Hobby screaming through which the dudes were plenty pleased to see. Slowly the other 20 or so people drifted away but I stayed and was rewarded with another flight view of a Bittern leaving the reedbed and heading to New Fen.

Soon I took advantage of another break in the weather to head down the riverside walk and get some cover from the poplar plantation. Common Terns were fishing over the river. Soon a sci-shape was intensely bothering the hirundines and swifts and it was joined by another. A pair of Hobbies. They didnt catch but boy did they give them hell. In the past I have only seen the Lakenheath birds cruising in circles picking up dragonflies so it was a privelege to see this behaviour. They soon gave up and went back into the plantation to roost. I checked and checked the most sheltered areas of plantation but no flashes of yellow and black emerged from the gloom.

As I wended my way back to the visitor centre a Cetti's Warbler flew across the river giving brief views in the vegetation. It was time to head back to the car - wet but quite satisfied.

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