Saturday, 4 June 2016

Post 415 - Brilliant & Totally Outstanding - BTO Bird Camp - part 2

The Dartford Warbler
Hey everyone today's post 414 and also the second instalment of my bird camp posts! Today's post is about the Sunday, all 12 and a half hours of it! So after a night's Night-jarring, we got to bed at about half 11, and in the morning woke up again at half past 4. After the Friday-Saturday sleep where most of us only got about 3 or 4 hour's sleep being so excited about the day in store, and after such an epic Day 1 of Bird Camp we all had no problems getting sleep this night...even if it was only for 5 hours.

It was up and out then, we all got into the mini-bus and, well, it was quite quiet for the next hour. Everybody was snoozing! It must have been peaceful for Ieuan, as it was probably the only quiet he got for the entire weekend! It took about an hour, as I say, to get there and when we did get there, most people got out of the mini-bus but a couple of us stayed in the bus until Nigel got there, our sort of tour-guide from the Landguard Bird Observatory!
Nigel gave us a bit of history about the site, as well as a very funny, 'no-nonsense' view of the governments approach to protecting nature as Dad described it. It's a fantastic place, near the Felixstowe port, it's a fort dating back to Henry VIII's time made to protect the East Coast. Now half of it's an English Heritage site and the other half is the Bird Observatory. It's funny waking around and seeing old bits of fort that have been converted for wildlife, like a big concrete pit that was where a big gun used to be is now converted to a pond that had loads of newts in it!

Before we went on the walk/tour around the observatory, we saw the results of the Moth Trapping from that night and we did a bit of sea bird watching. The bird watching brought me some birds that I haven't seen much, such as the Little Tern and some Brent Geese. The mothing brought a Little Elephant Hawk Moth, and a Pearly Underwing! The Pearly is a moth that Nigel was very surprised to see, it's a migrant moth that he would only expect to see until October if I remember right!

Some sea kale by Languard
So then we went around the area that he said that even experienced ringers find it hard to get there head around. 30 bird nets! Most of them were mist nets, but there was a couple of more sophisticated traps, for example, Heligoland trap. I've never seen a bird trap this big or this clever. I didn't even know I was going into it! Basically, you walk up behind the birds in the forest to flush them the way you're going and you walk into a huge netted sort of room that the birds can't get out of. Then you go out the other side through the door and you open the trap door that has a piece of re-enforced plastic on an angle that the birds think is the way out, they then fly into the box with the slanted plastic in ready for you to take out, ring and then set free.

After he showed us this we had breakfast and then went on a walk around the beach. We found loads of interesting plants such as Sea Kale, a relatively rare plant in England and Scarlet Pimpernel! They were growing on a habitat that Nigel explained was quite scarce - vegetated shingle. When on the beach we managed to see some more Little Terns but a bit closer and we even went to where all the Ringed Plover nests are. We even saw the chicks! Apart from all this, there wasn't much else when we were there as the weather wasn't best for the rare migrants that a lot of the Young Birders were sort of hoping we might see... there was a Firecrest there on the Friday before we got there and a Kentish Plover on the Thursday after! :(

The Redstart, shame it was looking the other way!
When this had finished, we headed back to the Nunnery, but not straight away. We were lucky enough to be able to visit a number of local sites that David Walsh (who I met last year at Birdfair last year) and Ben Moyes knew where they thought there would be some interesting birds around. I saw loads of lifers like the Dartford Warbler and the Redstart! It was interesting to see the difference between where each bird nested in comparison, the Warbler nesting quite low down in scrubby heathy land and the Redstart nesting quite high up in dead wood.

One stop off was to a site where there were Turtle Doves. Lots of us were excited to try and see these birds. They are having a really hard time and their numbers are declining lots. It's not helped by Maltese hunters that still shoot them when they are migrating even though European Law should protect them. Sadly there was only a brief glimpse of these birds in flight for a few of the group. The site was an RSPB reserve though and we saw lots of Avocet and a couple more Garganey amongst others.
After the touring we went for dinner at a lovely pub, I'm a bit of a pie lover and had a great Chicken and Ham pie. It must have looked odd to the other customers to see a group of 20 young birders there. We sat chatting about our wildlife experiences from the weekend.

After lunch we headed back to the campsite. We packed everything away, said our goodbyes to a few people that were going straight to the train station like Elliot and Dante. The rest of us headed to the Nunnery where parents were waiting to pick up the other Young Birders. A few of us hung around though to see what the final list of species was. In all 108 species were seen over the weekend. There were a few I missed, like the cranes (as I'm both short and colour blind the view wan't good enough for me to see them!) so my final list was 100 species!

Then, sadly, the weekend was over! Well, for everyone else it was. I had another day in East Anglia in store!

In case I haven't said it enough, this was a fabulous weekend. my best birding experience ever. I met some amazing people from the BTO. Ieuan, Paul, Viola, Lee, Justin, Su, Mike, Greg, Thank you so much for showing us so many amazing things, I learnt so much.

I met some amazing young birders too that also taught me a lot and were incredibly friendly. I laughed a lot too! Such a great group of people and great new friends. I'm sure I'll not remember everyone and I haven't found links to all of their blogs or twitter accounts but do have a look at what these people do too, they're all pretty incredible.

The BTO #BirdCamp16 Young Birders
The young birders at the start of the weekend -
Ieuan was telling us what we had in store!

Elliot Monteith
Toby Carter
Ben Moyse
Luke Nash
Paddy Lewin
Max Hellicar
Dante Shepherd
Alex W
Mya Bambrick
Eleanor Morrison
Josie Hewitt
Alex R
Amy Hall
Sam Pitt Miller

Look out for another special themed final instalment about Bird Camp and another about an interesting Monday that was the end of such an incredible weekend!

Hope you enjoyed,


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