Tuesday, 6 July 2021

June Summary

June 2021 was one of my best ever months birding!  Often, June is rather uneventful but this year proved to be the complete opposite.

The month started with an evening to to Winterton on 3rd where both Red-backed Shrike and Rose-coloured Starling had been seen.  The Starling had flown off  but, after a short wait, I relocated the Shrike and went on to enjoy good views.  With it's grey crown and nape, rich chestnut mantle, black face mask and whitish underparts this is one of my favourite birds and always a delight to see.

On 6th I headed to Hickling NWT where a female Red-footed Falcon had been seen.  A number of Hobby were dashing about over the reeds but sadly no sign of their rarer relative.  4+ Cranes were seen and a Bittern was heard booming.

Next day another evening trip to Winterton for what was considered to be a different Rose-coloured Starling to the one I had missed a few days earlier.  This time I had more luck and, although the Starling flock the bird was with bird was rather mobile  and often out of view, I was able to enjoy good views and even managed a few photo's.  A Spoonbill was from Breydon Bridge on 9th and a Red Kite flew over Ormesby Little Broad on 14th.

I was at work on 21st when I received amazing news of 9 Bee-eaters just down the road on waste ground behind Gapton Hall retail park.  I was soon on site and, after an anxious wait, the birds were located on wires over the marshes.  Although mostly quite distant nice telescope views were obtained of these delightful birds.  They were making frequent flights over the marshes and very hard to count as often not all the birds were visible at the same time.   

Next day a visit to Hickling NWT provided distant views views of a pair of Black-winged Stilts while Spoonbill and Red Kite were also noted.  I had a wander around the reserve hoping to locate Swallowtail with no joy only for 1 to briefly land on my car as I was packing up!

Two days later I made my first out of county trip this year as I was unable to resist the lure of a stunning Roller near Lackford in Suffolk.  Despite being next to a very busy road superb views were obtained of a stunning bird.  The colours on a Roller have to be seen to be believed especially in flight.

Next day saw a return to Hickling this time for a Collared Pratincole.  Again, good views were obtained and a nice supporting cast included the 2 Black-winged Stilts still present, several flight views of Bittern, Spotted Redshank and several Hobby.  with 9 Bede-eaters, 2 Black-winged Stilts, a Roller and a Collared Pratincole all within 5 days this was one of my best ever weeks birding!

Amazingly, the highlight of the month was still to come with news of a Black-browed Albatross on the cliffs at Bempton.  With the bird still on the cliffs at 2100 hrs on 30th Tony Stride and myself set off on the long overnight drive to Yorkshire arriving at first light.  The weather was awful with a near gale-force wind and frequent squally showers.  More than 1 person commented it felt more like November than June!  While waiting for the Albatross we enjoyed good views of the resident seabirds including a number of Puffins.  By 0730 the bird hadn't been found and I was tired, very cold and wet so we decided to return to the car to warm up.  We hadn't gone far when a shout went up that the bird had been refound!  Panic ensued, and with several people in front of me I couldn't get onto the bird before it flew out of view.  Luckily, a few minutes later it did another flypass and tis time I was in a better position.  Despite being a huge bird it was incredibly difficult to latch onto especially when flying against the dark cliffs amongst the numerous Gannets.  However, when located the very long dark wings, huge size, white head and pale bill made it quite unmistakable.  We enjoyed several views of this brilliant bird including a flypass almost directly overhead as well as seeing it from above as it flew low over the sea and also sitting on the cliffs.  Finally, we had it sitting on the sea being attacked by a Great Skua! Sadly, the weather was so poor that I didn't even attempt any photographs but that didn't detract from the fact that I was watching such an amazing bird.  An incredible end to an amazing month's birding.

As with most other moth trappers numbers in my moth trap were well down on last year both in terms of numbers of species and numbers of actual moths.  Presumably, this is weather related.  However, my first Small Elephant Hawkmoth was very welcome.