Gibraltar Point Weekend  24th-26th September 2004

Members of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club again converged on Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve for the annual residential weekend.  The group of 23 were accommodated in the Field Study Centre, which also provided all of the food for the weekend. 

The weekend is ideal for mixing sea-watching with viewing waders, raptors as well as general birding. The weather did not produce ideal conditions for finding plenty of migrant birds, but we did manage 119 species in and around the reserve. 

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Photo copyright Dave Ferguson

Those that stayed in bed on Saturday morning missed this superb sunrise.

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

Sea watching at dawn.  One of the closer Arctic Skuas is shown below.

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Photo copyright Dave Ferguson

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Photos copyright Jim Rose

The Long-billed Dowitcher was not exactly unexpected as it has been present since 5th July 2004.  It did provide a UK tick for quite a few members of the group.  Unfortunately it was rather distant and the above record shots are the best we could get.

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Photos copyright Jim Rose

This Short-eared Owl was seen hunting close to the observatory on several occasions and will be one of the highlights of the weekend for many people.  It perched and hunted at very close range in excellent light conditions and allowed Adrian Parker to get several superb flight shots of this fantastic bird.  To see these photos click here or on the photo.

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Merlin photos copyright Adrian Parker

Merlins were seen hunting on several occasions, usually along the beach where it was hunting small waders.  Indeed on one occasion it was successful and the wader (probably Dunlin or Sanderling) was heard screaming as it flew off with it in it's talons.  The last picture just shows the latest victim (a Meadow Pipit) as it flew off in search of somewhere to eat it.

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

Tree Sparrows have colonised Gibraltar Point in the last year or so and bred on the reserve this year.  In all of our previous visits this species had never been seen before.  We were fortunate to be able to see them in the garden of the residential centre as they used the feeders.  At least 8 were present.

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Photo copyright Adrian Parker

This Greenshank frequented a small pool by the road.

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Photo copyright Adrian Parker

Redshanks were seen at various sites across the reserve.  This was taken on the Lagoon.

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

Normally one of the most numerous waders at Gibraltar Point, but this year there were relatively few Oystercatchers.

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

Parties of up to 20 Black-tailed Godwits were seen from Jackon's Marsh hide.

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

This lone female Ruddy Duck was preening in front of the hide at Tennyson Sands

Other Widlife

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Photo copyright Adrian Parker

This Water Vole was regularly seen on a small pool and was almost oblivious to the presence of birders within a few feet.

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Photos copyright Jim Rose

This rather large Grass Snake was seen hunting from the Mere hide while we were looking for an elusive Jack Snipe.

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These two Comma butterflies were feeding close together by Tennyson Sands

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Photos copyright Jim Rose

Other highlights of the weekend included :-