I'm typing this to the accompaniment of Haircut 100's 'feel good' tune from the '80s. Today at Upton Warren was indeed a Fantastic Day. the best day of 2018 so far!
It started off with the Whooper Swan, which flew south through the Flashes with a Mute Swan. I thought this may be the last we were going to see of this long-staying resident. However, true to form, it resurfaced at the Moors Pool just over an hour later. News then emerged from the Moors Pool of the years first Oystercatcher. I didn't rush over, reasoning that it would probably hang around or, if not, I would surely see one soon anyway!
My first UW year tick came after the early morning drizzle had been replaced by blue sky and sunshine, when the unmistakable shape of a Peregrine appeared on the northernmost large transmitter masts. A quick scan with the scope confirmed the
Identity. As I walked on further down the track day ticks transpired in the shape of Dunnock, Stock Dove, Bullfinch, Great Tit, Goldcrest and the obliging Cetti's Warbler giving its contact call and showing well just above the Hen Brook near the bridge. Retracing my steps I heard the song of a Treecreeper, which I saw in a tree near the Hen Brook Hide before it flew to the tree to the immediate southern side of the bridge. Back at the hide an Oystercatcher, probably the one that had been at the Moors Pool earlier appeared on one of the islands.
Earlier in the morning I had counted c750 Lapwing at the Flashes; 9 Curlew were there first thing before flying out and Phil Wood found the only Snipe of the morning (there were 5 present later in the day). Teal numbered 31, Coot 30; 160 Canada Geese & 23 Greylags grazed in the field behind the first flash and c30 Redwing were in the fields to the south and west of the hide. In addition the Sailing Pool held 9 Great-crested Grebe, a Little Grebe, 12 Tufted Duck and a handful of Cormorant.
After a spot of lunch overlooking the Sailing Pool, with only an overflying LBBG added to my day list, I headed towards the East Hide at the Moors Pool. On the way there I added a Shelduck on the North Moors Pool and Song Thrush to the day list. Shoveler, Pochard & Gadwall were all logged from the East Hide. A squealing Water Rail & Chaffinch were added from the North Moors Hide, and Greenfinch, Reed Bunting & Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen on the feeding stations in front of the hides down the west track. Strangely, finch numbers were few, with no Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and just 2 Goldfinch seen. The only Linnet of the day was at the Flashes mid-morning. A short stroll along the Salwarpe brought me my 4th UW year tick when 2 Rook flew south over the field between the river and the A38. Back at the Jacobs Hide a Little Egret was sighted as it flew in from the south and landed near the Sand Martin box.
I ended the day at the Flashes, where a few of us congregated in the main hide hoping to see the Barn Owl. The next addition to the day list was a Green Woodpecker, which was picked up by Regor as it flew into the oak tree opposite. Then came the 'champagne moment' of the day when a bird in amongst the BHGs in front of the sewage works was spotted and tentatively identified as a Common Gull. On closer examination the bird showed features more associated with an adult winter Kittiwake: a plain yellow bill with no trace of a black band, and 2 dark vertical lines behind the dark eyes. The legs appeared small and when the bird rose from a seated position were of a dark hue. Finally, when the bird flew after being spooked, it revealed the 'dipped in ink' primaries which are a key diagnostic feature of this species. It did eventually come back to earth on the newly created mound in front of the first flash reed bed.
Meanwhile at around 4.50pm the Barn Owl appeared from the southern end of the flash and flew north before disappearing somewhere near the Cuckoo Hide. It's not often that this magnificent and graceful creature plays the supporting role but I'm afraid on this occasion in my mind it certainly did. This was only the 3rd Kittiwake I've seen at Upton Warren in 14 years of visiting the reserve, and the first I'd seen since April 2013. I also can't recall seeing an adult in winter plumage anywhere before!
The final treat of the day came well past 5pm when a Green Sandpiper flew in calling. This took my day list up to 59 species, with 5 UW year ticks. I searched frantically in the gathering gloom for a Herring Gull or maybe even a Yellow-legged Gull to take my tally up to 60 birds for the day but, alas, there were just 4 large gulls in the roost and they were all LBBGs!
Anyway who cares. It was a fantastic day. I wonder if Nick Hayward was a birder?:t:B
Like others have previously stated, sounds like a good day Andy, perhaps the most surprising part is your admission to listening to Nik Hayward😳