Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Sunday 6th March - Minsmere

It seems ages since I have actually had a days birding, yes I have chased gulls and had the odd lunch time visit to various sites but to be honest its mostly been working on the bird records for South-east Suffolk. I decided it was time to get out in the field, so I headed to Minsmere to see what I could find. I had a couple of objectives, the first was to study any Treecreeper I came across as I have a bit of interest in familiaris race(Northern) Treecreeper and having seen a photo on Birdguides of a possible example taken at Minsmere recently (http://www.flickr.com/photos/38929823@N08/5462450686/) I was keen to keep an eye out. The other was rather optimistic but I was keeping half an ear out for Penduline Tit, its getting to that time of year and Minsmere does have a bit of history with this species. I started with a walk around the scrape, and as its been a while since I have been around the reserve it was a bit of a shock to see the north wall devoide of scrub. This area has been cleared to stop any potential species nesting and being disrupted during structural work on the north wall later in the year. The sea held good numbers of Great-crested Grebes, some of which were displaying on a rather lumpy sea, and some close Red-throated Divers. A scan of east scrape reveailed little in the gathered gulls and waders were thin on the ground with a Turnstone being the highlight. A few more weeks and things I suspect will be a lot different. The levels held good numbers of Dunlin and 2 Ruff, whilst south scrape continued to host 3 red-head Smew.
Whilst walking through the woods a couple of Treecreepers were spotted but all seemed to be of the British race, showing buff undertail coverts and a buff wash to the ear coverts. The familiaris race birds show consistently white underparts with little buff colouration of the undertail coverts, and a white supercillium and ear coverts. I'm sure this species is over looked and searches of galleries on various sites seem to indicate that potential birds have been photogrphed around the UK this winter.
At Island mere hide the reed-mace was unsurprisingly Penduline Tit free! 2 Snipe showed very well in front of Island mere, one being of a typical brown ground colour and the other a greyer toned bird. I wounder if these greyer birds are faeroeensis race birds that breed in Iceland and reportedly in some on some of the outlying Scottish Islands.

Common Snipe (faeroeensis?)
Greyer Snipe, note pale ground colour to breast and weaker face markings.

Common Snipe

Browner of the 2 birds. Warm ground colour and bold dark headed/face markings.

Common Snipe (faeroeensis?)
Again note colder appearance and whiter strips running down back and whiter edging to scapulars and coverts.

Common Snipe
Bolder markings on this individual with the fringes of scapulars and coverts having a yellower tone.
Interestingly both birds exhibited a tendency to "bob" much like a Jack Snipe but perhaps less strongly. Beware!!

On the mere several Tufted duck were presnet and a lone red-head Smew was activly fishing. At the far end a distant Scaup species got the grey cells active. It was on its own and actively feeding. At first it seemed small and the black on the nail varied in size depending on pose, I wished it would swim closer but it decided to head in to a hidden area. Later it emerged with a female Tufted duck and the smaller size of the Tufted Duck was evident and together with a wide obvious black tip to the bill a Greater Scaup it was.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Scott,

    I'm glad you're blogging again!

    As a regular visitor to your website I was disappointed that you hadn't been active for so long, as I really enjoy reading your stuff!

    Anyway, I was reading about the Treecreepers and thought you should see this;


    I took this picture at Minsmere in Dec 09. Could it be the same race of bird that you are looking for?

    I'd be interested to know if it is.

    I'm sure you know my site, and if you wanna get in touch then you can via danny@dannysdigiscoping.com

    Glad you're back!!