Before I talk about our long-awaited trip to Finland, I’ll post about a great little weekend we had right at the beginning of the month.
May began with the decision to get up early on a Saturday morning and go over to Staines Moor again. This time, armed with a plan set out in the latest issue of Bird Watching, we arrived at the Moor at the middle of the southern boundary instead of via the footpath at the south-east corner. Just before we got to the Moor itself we found ourselves in a small meadow teeming with warblers: notably lots of Common Whitethroats and our first Garden Warbler of the year.
We entered the Moor and went clockwise around the perimeter, which brought us Lapwings, Great Tits and Goldfinches, plus several rabbits and a sleepy fox. We then stopped for a break on top of the grassy mound by the pond, where we listened to Reed Warblers and a Cetti’s Warbler, and where we also watched several Linnets and an awesome Red Kite. We also noticed some cattle close to the western boundary and decided to follow in case there were any Yellow Wagtails with them. There weren’t, but we instead heard our first Cuckoo of the year, and soon located him in the top of one of the trees along the northern edge where Staines Moor meets Stanwell Moor. He was soon chased away by a corvid. Whilst we were hanging around that north-western corner we got many other firsts for the year: notably a Common Tern, Sedge Warbler, and a beautiful male Bullfinch.
We then decided to follow the Colne River back down through the Moor, bringing us a Little Egret, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, at least two Buzzards, a Grey Heron, and a fantastic hunting Hobby picking off damselflies. We also noticed several Demoiselles and some interesting Dung Flies in the cow pats. There was no sign of any Grasshopper Warblers, but we made our way back up the eastern boundary and got ourselves a pair of Hobbies overhead (one may have been the same bird as earlier), Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, and when we got back to the northern boundary we saw our first Reed Warbler of the year before unwittingly flushing a brace of Red-legged Partridges. Moving through the Stanwell Moor boardwalk we got more Whitethroats and a second Garden Warbler, and we eventually made our way back to Staines along the long path alongside the reservoir. This finished us off with a Blackcap and a confiding young rabbit. By the end of the afternoon I’d added six species to my yearlist, bringing it up to 127.
And that was just the Saturday…
On the Sunday Jem’s dad was racing in King’s Lynn, so we went along too to take in a free day of Norfolk birding. It started cool and grey as we walked up the side of the Great Ouse, but we soon got lots of Whitethroats, a Kestrel, a pair of Greenfinches, a Chiffchaff, and some Blackcaps. Moving further along we also got a fine Swallow which kept swooping away before always returning to the same stretch of telegraph wire.
Eventually we reached Point Green Nature Reserve and were greeted by our second Cuckoo of the weekend. There were also Reed Buntings, Marsh Harriers, a few Oystercatchers, a Buzzard, two Common Terns, a gaggle of late-departing Brent Geese, a strange-looking domestic Swan Goose x Greylag hybrid, and a Brown Hare. Of course, there were lots of gulls too, both Herring and Black-headed, and with the occasional black-backed species thrown in.
Not a bad weekend’s birding.