Wood Sand, Red-necked Phal, and Orchids

Friday 18th May 2012
Adult female Red-necked Phalarope
I had an early start to survey Nightingales at SO81K, or rather, to confirm what I knew already that there are none in the tetrad; still it is important information to help build up a national picture of the population trends nationally for this species. Next, Frampton, where the two drake Garganeys were still on the 100-Acre, and two broods of Mandarin were on the canal one of four, the other female had 11 ducklings.
Mandarin duckling
Common Cranes
At Slimbridge WWT, two of the Common Cranes - Great Crane Project birds who have homed back to the trust from the release site in Somerset - were feeding on The Dumbles. The Avocet nest site was deserted, but from the Holden Tower I could see an Avocet on the Top New Piece, and the other bird on the Bottom New Piece displaying protective behaviour, so hopefully a good sign that the chicks were safe. I made for Kingfisher Hide for a closer look, where I could see the female intermittently through the Juncus, but not the chicks, which would be hard to spot being so tiny. The well-being of all three chicks was confirmed later, which is great news, and amazing to think that the chicks had made it all that way, half a mile as the Crow (or adult Avocet) flies, at barely a day old! While scanning amongst the Juncus I found a WOOD SANDPIPER which fed in view for around ten minutes before disappearing from view. This could be the same bird I dipped here recently. I was also pleased to receive news that Dave Pearce had found a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at Coombe Hill as there was no sign of the Slimbridge bird of the day before. The bird, a superb adult female, was thankfully still at Grundon Hide when I arrived (wellies still needed although the water level has dropped nearly 30cm from Tuesday), it spending most of its time apparently keeping out of the way of the bullying Black-headed Gulls. This is most likely the WWT bird. Ten Little Egrets were near the canal, and Redstart, Whitethroat Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were all singing along the canal towpath.
Green-winged Orchid
I finished on a botanical note at the GWT's Pasqueflower reserve, part of Barnsley Warren SSSI. Although I was too late to see Pasqueflower in flower, which I suspected, I did find Green-winged Orchids - absolutely gorgeous, and a nice end to a great day out.
Pasqueflower - finished flowering
Barnsley Warren

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