Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Little Egret for lunch

Another generous lift from Brian 'Natural' Stone took me and WWoN to "local wader hotspot" Maxey gravel pits. We started off on the Etton Road side of the pits (which looks very tasty indeed), but it was the usual Green Sandpiper and Sand Martin fare. Booooooooring.

There were a few insects around, though, including a Clouded Yellow and an Essex Skipper which I managed to photograph (not very well).

This hoverfly (feeding on the dreaded Ragwort) made a nice picture.

And these Soldier Beetles were... doing what beetles do.

Having established that those pits were lacking in birds, we drove round to the Woodgate Lane section. Another Green and a Common Sandpiper were found, which is about all that can be expected there.

I turned to the hedgerow to look for insect macro 'prey'. There were stacks of Gatekeepers, Pyronia tithonus, but only this one permitted a close approach - it sat still for ages. Mike's a bit gripped off* because he wants to be King of Insect Macro Photography, and he thinks these are better than his! Ha!

We're not competitive at all...

Having enjoyed a pleasant lunchtime in the sunshine (for once), we were thinking about leaving when I spotted a Hobby hawking for insects over the pits. It's always amazing to watch them pass prey (presumably dragonflies in this case) up to their bills.

Next, Brian was first to catch sight of a Little Egret which had flown in from the north. It went down on the edge of the pit and gradually flew closer and closer, but was never really digiscopable due to a) heat haze and b) tall vegetation.

Little Egrets are everywhere at the moment. There were four at Star Pit yesterday and one at Welland Bank this morning. How many there really are in the area is anyone's guess. It's a post-breeding dispersal which seems to be very marked this year.

Place your bets on where Little Egrets will be first to breed in the PBC area...

* 'Gripped off' is silly twitchers' slang. It means you're jealous of what someone else has seen. You can also say 'I gripped Mr X off', meaning that you've seen something that you know he'll want to have seen.

I once encountered someone who pulled up in a car next to our birding group, leaned out of the window and shouted: "Spotted Eagle! Gripped you!" and drove off again.

It might have happened that way, or it might have been embellished slightly... You get the gist.

What's in my CD player: Radiator - Super Furry Animals

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