A big month of field trips this month, some specifically for birds, other locations as part of the summer family vacation.
With my family overseas without me, I had some time to use wisely and so I went to Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve to connect with my first UK Cattle Egret. Also present were Black-Tailed Godwit (20) and a Hobby among others.
A week later, I was in Wiltshire at Enford, Salisbury Plain, for a pre-arranged visit for a life tick target bird that is part of an ongoing reintroduction programme. The rendez-vous was a car park, and at the allocated time, I jumped into a land rover and drove off into the plains. A few minutes after my guide had stopped on a track and we'd stepped out, I was viewing with my 'scope across the rolling fields where I easily found GREAT BUSTARD (16) in 2 groups of males, 5 and 10 in number. They were foraging or strutting around the fields, apparently unconcerned with the windy and rainy conditions. Their size and distinctive plumage made for a very impressive species and one that was awesome to see roaming the hills once again (they were originally extirpated in the 19th Century in the UK). After several minutes observing, my guide and I (another party had pulled out leaving me as only person on the tour) moved onto the hide that overlooks the breeding pens and the fenced reintroduction area, where a single female was discretely foraging. Soon after, my time was up and I was driven back to my car.
The week after, I was off to USA, and up to Vermont as part of a non birding family vacation/holiday. To find our bearings in the area, we visited the nearby Pittsford Recreation Area where a Belted Kingfisher was perched on a sign at the swimming pond. Later that day we drove to Chittenden Reservoir for a look about and I spotted a resplendent summer plumaged Great Northern Diver/Common Loon, a Bald Eagle also flew over.
The next day we took advantage of the sunny weather to go for a swim at Bomoseen SP where common birds were seen, most notable were Eastern Kingbird* (2) and an Osprey**.
That was it for Vermont, a very modest list for the state, but a nice area to visit. One day I hope to return and do more birding in the abundant parks and along the many trails.
Back down in southern Massachusetts the EEE-infected mosquitoes were putting a dampener on birding activities, particularly when I remembered the amount of mozzies at Allens Pond! Therefore I stuck to family beach visits, first to Round Hill Town Beach where I saw a Lesser Yellowlegs on the marsh and a fly past Forster's Tern from the beach. The day after was Horseneck Beach where a Killdeer in the car park was notable.
I then decided that Gooseberry Neck would be fine to visit, lacking mosquitoes, and being close to the water. It was much quieter than last year, a lot less birds and even less people, however I saw plenty of Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (6) and Black Scoter (7). However, the highlight was a life tick SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at the promontory that had been identified a couple days earlier.
Next up was a family whale-watching trip from Plymouth out to Stellwagen Bank, where alongside Humpback Whale and Fin Whale, I spotted Wilson's Storm-Petrel (15), Cory's Shearwater (2) and Northern Gannet (8).
A final outing to Gooseberry Neck was again quiet where a one-note Eastern Towhee in the car-park and a flyover Killdeer were the thin highlights.
Until next year, New England!
Saturday 3rd, Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve, London, UK.
Saturday 10th, Salisbury Plain--Great Bustard reintroduction site, Wiltshire, UK.
Monday 19th, Pittsford Recreation Area, Rutland, VT, USA.
Monday 19th, Chittenden Reservoir, Rutland, VT, USA.
Tuesday 20th, Bomoseen State Park, Rutland, VT, USA.
Saturday 24th, Round Hill Town Beach, Bristol, MA, USA.
Sunday 25th, Horseneck Beach, Bristol, MA, USA.
Monday 26th, Gooseberry Neck, Bristol, MA, USA.
Thursday 29th, Stellwagen Bank NMS, Barnstable, MA, USA.
Friday 30th, Gooseberry Neck, Bristol, MA, USA.