Friday 16 September 2016

Autumn on the patch

I've been making a bit more of an effort to catch up with autumn migrants on my local patch at Swineham over the past few weeks. My visits in recent years have often been necessarily fleeting, involving a brisk canter around the gravel pits trying to cover as much of the area as possible. This autumn I have tried a different strategy, lingering in a few of the more promising looking spots for passerines, and not worrying about trying to cover all the ground. It's worked quite well, and I've started to appreciate the old place a bit more as a result. But a late evening walk tonight was bright, breezy and almost completely birdless, so I had reverted to type and was doing a circuit of the gravel pits when, heading west up the Piddle Valley, something made me look back: Great White Egret in a ditch - patch tick! It looked like it had clocked me before I clocked it, made a few short flights and settled to feed in amongst a herd of cows. A few pictures of the Egret and some other recent migrants below.
Great White Egret - difficult to miss
A huge bird, much larger than the familiar Little Egret
It or another has been seen recently at Lytchett  Bay, Middlebere and in the From Valley 
No point trying to be stealthy when you're that colour mate
Reed Warblers have been moving through though it's difficult to tell the migrants from the residents with this species which breeds in good numbers at Swineham
Reed Warbler
Whitethroat is surprisingly rare at Swineham - this one of two earlier in the month
Lesser Whitethroat is even rarer - three together a few weeks ago was quite a record
A juvenile Spotted Flycatcher was also a belated patch tick this autumn
Always a treat to see one of these
A steady stream of Willow Warblers over recent weeks seems to be tailing off
Always an attractive species at this time of year
Willow Warbler
Plenty of Sedge Warblers also around the gravel pits
Not a great year for them breeding at Swineham so presumed migrants
An acrobatic Sedge Warbler

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