Saturday, 29 May 2010

El Hondo Storm

El Hondo

El Hondo

North Gate

I arrived at the North Gate at 08.15 as usual on a Saturday, the freak rain storm we had last night left me feeling fairly optimistic that I might find a good wader on one of the scrapes which last week had been dry. First stop was the observation platform, the area viewed from here (see above) has not dried out yet this year and as a result is usually one of the most productive spots. Numerous Little Bittern were frequently flying across the water as usual and lots of Great Reed Warbler were in good song. Other species recorded here included, Moustached Warbler, White-headed Duck (appears to have lost its brood of 4), Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Night Heron and a non breeding/immature Great Egret (my first record for 5 weeks).

I then moved to the marsh tower where an hour birding yielded some good birds, but unfortunately the only waders present were the resident Kentish Plover. For some reason I had convinced myself I was going to find a Terek Sandpiper, wishful thinking! This huge disappointment was softened by the presence of Whiskered and Little Tern, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Montagu's Harrier and thousands of Pallid and Common Swift.

Great Egret
Visitors Centre

Still not convinced that Terek Sandpiper was beyond the realms of possibility and with thoughts of White-tailed Lapwing now creeping into my mind! (having been told abot a bird in Holland today), I decided to check the main scrape near the visitors centre. The walk down to the viewing platform produced Marbled Duck (8), Red-crested Pochard, Common and Whiskered Tern and a pale phase Booted Eagle.
When i arrived at the platform it was clear to see that the rain had created a perfect wader feeding ground. 800+ Greater Flamingo (the first I have recorded on this scrape) were feeding amongst Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. After 15 minutes I found my waders, not quite a White-tailed Lapwing but the 6 Black-tailed Godwit were the first I have seen here in about a month. The return loop back to the car park passed a ploughed field which contained 150+ Collared Pratincole (see below) an impressive end to a good days birding.

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole
On the drive home the evidence of yesterday's storm was everywhere, nearly all of the fields were flooded and each field held 20+ Cattle Egret (see below), I would have probably had more chance of that Terek if I had looked around the farm fields and not the reserve, Oh well, there's nothing wrong with a bit of optimism!

Cattle Egret

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