Sunday, 5 July 2015

Leighton Moss RSPB

I'm not going to lie, the terrible run of form I was on when it came to twitches was begging to get on my wires. The solution? Get twitching! I was keeping an eye on proceedings and there were a few bits around, but I eventually decided to go for a second day White-Winged Black Tern at Leighton Moss RSPB.
Obviously its not even that rare, but it was an adult and had been showing well. It being a Sunday there were public transport limitations but I worked it all out and arrived on site for half 4 with 2 and a half hours before the train back. I made haste into the visitor center for directions, and was gutted to find that the 'lower hide' the bird had been showing from was indeed the hide 2 kilometers away. To add to the experience the heavens had well and truly opened for the first time in a long time outside Preston, and as such I was getting pretty drenched having set off from glorious Halifax.
I made short work of the 1800m distance to arrive at the hide dripping wet. I could afford to waste no time in trying to find the tern for myself so asked the couple in the hide already for the gen. It was flying around even as I entered so got it in the bins and admired it, before it flew into a different section of the lake obscured by reeds...
It was very mobile for the most part, for at least an hour I only saw it on 3 occasions. On the third occasion I decided it best to grab some record shots, should it not come back again. I grabbed a couple of shots, which nicely show the black underwing contrasting the pale primaries. 
-White-Winged Black Tern
Whilst waiting for the terns intermittent appearances I kept an eye out for other goodies that were about. The other bird on my target list for the afternoon was the Great White Egret that had been around for a while. I was pleased that I picked it up resting at the back of the lake, only my second ever. It was less active than my first, but I was able to get excellent views through the scope. I did not transfer that view into good photos, as only one shot was sharp. Having said that, I did get a reasonable video, bright but reasonable, which is some compensation.
-Great White Egret
video
-Great White Egret
We then followed that up with a deep discussion regarding a possible scaup. It was clearly not all scaup due to a number of features but was certainly an abbarent Tufted Duck with a number of possible scaup features. Personally I did not buy into the hybrid idea and think it was probably just an odd female tuftie.
As the tern shifted in an out we had a very lovely surprise when one of the chaps in the hide picked up an Otter swimming across the lake in front of the hide. It took me a while to get onto it, but it was nice once I had. Through the scope I was able to get my best ever views of an Otter as it swam around fishing and then coming up to process its catch. Sadly it did not stay up very often, quickly going back under, and this made it very difficult to photograph, hence why my solitary shot included here is so blurred and not very good.
-Otter
It took a while but the bird did come down eventually and landed on the posts in front of the hide. That was pretty sick, and I was able to get some reasonable record shots and a short video which I am pretty pleased with. Without doubt it was a damn fine bird, and well worth the twitch effort. It stayed like that for about 20 mins before it flew off round the corner where it had been before, which I took as my cue to leave, as I would have run out of time otherwise. Such a good bird and lifer.
-White-Winged Black Tern
video
-White-Winged Black Tern
I then had to leave pretty quick or else miss my train. Funnily enough that's when the rain stopped, but it made for a pleasant, if midge filled, walk back. Sadly the only thing I did not get was a yeartick of marsh tit, but there was a Greater-Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders on the car park. What a splendid way to end my dipping streak

Species List:
Leighton Moss RSPB: Mallard, Cormorant, Black-Headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Little Egret, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Great White Egret, White-Winged Black Tern, Moorhen, Coot, Swift, Pochard, Mute Swan, Graylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Great-Crested Grebe, Reed Bunting, Magpie, Pheasant, Marsh Harrier, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Sparrowhawk, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Rook, Carrion Crow, Grey Heron, Whimbrel, Curlew, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, 

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