Prestwick Carr and some local highlights.

Today has been one of the best days for quite some time. I saw some great birds, and found some of my first nests ever, as well as getting quite a lot of my homework done which means I have more time to spend birding tomorrow! It all started off with a trip up to the pond. I was walking through the dene when I saw a Song Thrush down by the stream with a beak full of dead leaves. I stopped to watch the bird, and soon it flew onto the path right in front of me! I stood there, amazed, while I watched it fly up into a holly bush by the pathway. I saw it land on a large clump of leaves in a fork of the branches - it's nest! This is my second nest this year and another nest for me to record. Therefore I am very pleased about it!

When I first arrived at the pond there was not much about. A few Black-headed Gulls were sat looking rather bored while the Mallards slept on the bank. However, after walking around for a few minutes I heard a familiar song. A song I had not heard for quite some time... A Chiffchaff! These birds are just starting to arrive back in this country after spending the winter in the warm, sunny Mediterranean. I listened to the song for a while before moving on.

Next I went up to the top end of the dene. This is a more open area, with some shrubby area, some open grass, and a group of birch trees. Here there were lots of birds; a small group of Lesser Redpolls was spread out in the shrubs while a larger flock of Bramblings were feeding in the birches before moving deeper into the wood. Also, I was surprised to here yet another Chiffchaff singing away in the trees. I managed to catch a glimpse of this one, but it was too fast for a photo.

On my way back down the dene I went through both the clearings I had found last weekend. The more open one was, yet again, alive with birds, and I saw a Wren with nest material. I tried to follow it back to find the nest but, unfortunately, failed. In the second clearing there wasn't so much bird life but there were lots of plants. 13 year-old Reuben identified the beautiful yellow flower covering the floor as Lesser Celandine, which I definitely agree with. However, I also have found another flower that I am unsure of.

The dene with it's blanket of green

Just as I was about to leave the dene I saw yet another bird by the stream, yet again with a beak full of dead leaves. This was a Robin. I watched it for a while before it decided to add the leaves to it's nest. I have now located the nest exactly, meaning I now have three nests to record!

When I arrived beck in the garden it was surprisingly quiet, with only a couple of birds about. However I did manage to get a photo of a female Blackbird that I am quite happy with.

In the afternoon, me and my mum headed over to Prestwick Carr for a short birdwatching trip. This winter there have been a few special visitors to the nature reserve; four Short-Eared Owls and a Great Grey Shrike! I had never seen either species so I was very exited about visiting! In the first 10 minutes we had located the field where the Great Grey Shrike was usually seen in, and after that it was quite easy to find the bird sitting on a bush on the other side of a boggy field. We watched it for a while and, though it was distant, it was a great bird to see!

A couple of distant shots of the Great Grey Shrike.

After watching the Shrike for twenty minutes or so, we headed back to look for the Short-Eared Owls. We weren't quite sure where to look, but after a while hanging around with not much luck and a few tweets sent we were pointed on the right direction (thank you John Atkinson and Lee Harris). After reaching the spot where the Short-Eared Owls usually hunt we waited for them to appear and, sure enough, one did. I watched it hunt (mum had retreated back to the car) until we had to leave. Unfortunately it was also quite distant but it was amazing to see it quartering the bog. I only managed a distant shot of what looks like a floating brown smudge but I can't complain after the show it put on for me.

With a certain amount of imagination, if you zoom in on the very centre you can see a brown smudge that looks a bit like a wing and a body. (The bird is facing left)

There was also a Kestrel hunting nearby which I got a couple of photos of.

I am hoping to spend some time in the dene tomorrow looking for nests and possibly making a simple bird hide in the clearing. I hope you all have a very enjoyable Sunday!


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