Saturday, 3 September 2016

A swamphen and a crake

The re-appreance of the Minsmere western swamphen at Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire mid week meant that there was only ever likely to be one place I would be going today. Ray had already seen the bird at Minsmere, but for me the opportunity to catch up with a potential first for Britain just a two hour drive from home was too good to miss. There were a couple of added bonuses as well, Alkborough Flats was a new reserve tick for both of us, and by going over to the east coast we hoped to avoid the forecast torrential rain until at least mid afternoon, and so it proved.

I'd heard that the bird was distant and we weren't disappointed, it was certainly a scope job and probably 40x was the bare minimum required to get a decent look at it. I had mine on 60x for most of the time. Still, I was happy enough with the views and for a while it stood out in the open water.

Also at Alkborough, six spoonbills, bearded tit, about 100 avocets, greenshank, marsh harrier and various other waders.

Distant but a 320 miles round trip closer than Minsmere! Seriously though, it was fine through the scope and showed well out in the open for several minutes at a time.

This is what it looks like at close range. Unfortunately though, this was at Quinta do Lago in Portugal a few years back.

What a great little bird! By the time we had driven from Alkborough to North Cave Wetlands, walked to the view point and waited an hour for the spotted crake to show the heavens had opened and we almost needed floodlights to see the bird. However we did have outstanding views of the bird and it was worth the soaking.

I'm always surprised at how small they are, half the size of a moorhen. It was pouring down at this stage!

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