Sunday, 28 October 2012

Too Little

Saturday 27th October 2012
A days birding with Brendan, Dave and Paul. A decision on where to go had to be taken. So an early team meeting at 05:30 in the Harvester car park was arranged. The meeting didn't take too long as we all agreed the good birds were at Portland. So we set sail for...................North Norfolk!
First stop was Cley where Dave and Paul headed for the reserve in search of White-rumped Sandpiper. Brendan and myself joined a mass of other birders for a seawatch. Unfortunately for us the wind was gale force and the sea the roughest I have seen it in Norfolk. This made for difficult and uncomfortable viewing as there was no space in the shelter. We braved the weather for 30 to 40 minutes and did manage to note; Gannet, Kittiwake, Manx Sheawater, Guillemot, Great Skua. Little Auks were being called but neither of us could get on them. News of a confiding Little Auk at nearby Salthouse called for another team meeting. As Dave and Paul were on the reserve this had to be done by the way of a "conference call". Dave and Paul had not connected with the White-rumped Sandpiper so we picked them up from the reserve and headed off to Salthouse. Here we enjoyed the company of a Little Auk showing well down to a distance of 0 (zero) feet. Whilst at Salthouse news of the White-rumped Sandpiper  at Cley had us heading back to the reserve. On the walk from the car park we saw a Peregrine maruading through the reserve putting everything up. This did not bode well for our chances of seeing the White-rumped Sandpiper. We entered the hide and everything had settled back down. However, there were very few waders just a Ringed Plover and a couple of Dunlin. Then the Peregine was back! Everything lifted again except for a few Shelduck. The Peregrine had several goes at one of the Shelduck but was unsuccessful. Everything settled down again and we noted 3 Kittiwake amongst the Black-headed Gulls and 3 Bearded Tit dropped into the reedbed to the left of the hide. Now only one small wader was on the reserve, a Ringed Plover. After about 40 minute's the White-rumped Sandpiper emerged from amongst the Teal roosting on the far bank of the pool in front of the hide. From Cley we headed off to Burnham Overy. Little Bunting our target bird here. On our walk along the sea wall we noted lots of Fieldfare and Redwing in the adjacent fields. Also here we noted a nice male Ring Ouzel. We arrived at the sluice where we soon connected with the Little Bunting as it fed on the track below the sea wall.
As the wind was still blowing strongly and it had started to rain we decided to seek shelter in Wells Woods. Quite a productive visit to the woods with the following of note; Woodcock, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Redwing, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Nuthatch. Also here we encoutered another birder who seemed to be completely fluent in gibberish (very strange!). On the boating lake next to the car park 8 Little Grebe.
Off to Titchwell next hoping to connect with Grey Phalarope. We arrived at Titchwell and unpacked our optics from the boot of my car when a message came on the pagers that the Arctic Redpoll at Holkham was in fact "Hornemann's". So optics back in the car! I drove to Holkham Pines like someone who is employed by Royal Mail as a collection's driver. On arrival at the pay and display car park we power walked along the track, boardwalk and dunes to where about a dozen birders had gathered. Here we enjoyed great views of the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll as it fed voraciously in amonst the Marram Grass in the dunes. On the journey from the car park to the bird I took a fall in the dunes. Now I know some of my readers may find this amusing but smearing your coat, trousers and optics in green moss slime is not funny. I did call out to Dave and Brendan for help but they pretended not to hear. Now I know a thing or two about health and safety and the lack of signage such as "DANGER" "would all middle aged birders trying to walk at high speed please note that these dunes can become very slippery when wet. This can cause serious injury to your pride and may leave you open to ridicule". So NNR please act as this could (hopefully) happen to somebody else. On our more leisurely walk back to the car we noted a single Swallow.
In an attempt to squeeze one last bird out of the day we headed for a nearby village whose name escapes me in the hope of seeing Waxwings, however, as expected no joy here.
[note to myself, for future postings forget the wordy nonsense and just list what you've seen]
My pics of usual quality below; first two Little Auk at Salthouse, next two Little Bunting at Burnham Overy, last two Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Holkham Pines Dunes.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Swale kinda Goose

A trip to South Swale NR near Faversham with Paul. We arrived at the Sportsman Pub and parked nearby. We then made our way west along the sea wall for about a mile and a half. We joined a handful of other birders enjoying good views of a Red-breasted Goose busily feeding amongst the hundreds of Brent Geese. On our way back to Paul's van we were entertained by c20 Bearded Tit "pinging" in the reedbed.
We then made our way to Dungeness stopping off at Mcdonalds on the way (yum-yum). Our first port of call (un-intentional pun) was the fishing boats. Here we searched for the returning Glaucous Gull. No joy here but we did catch up with the Glaucous Gull in amongst Herring, Great-black Backed and Lesser-black Backed gulls on the shingle towards the lighthouse. In the Lighthouse Garden we noted Blackcap (m and f), Chiffchaff, Common Redstart. Then a brief seawatch produced; Arctic Skua, Guillemot, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Common Scoter. Also here 3 Harbour Porpoise.
The observatory moat was next up. We began scanning the bushes in the moat. Just Chiffchaff and Goldcrest here. We met up with some other birders who said that a Pallas's Warbler had beed reported in the ringing area. Not being familiar with the ringing area we followed them over to the ringing area. We spent a good deal of time searching but could not locate the Pallas's or the Yellow Browed Warblers that had beed reported in this area. We headed back across the shingle to continue our scanning of the moat a Sparrowhawk was seen on route. Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Blackcap and Song Thrush were noted in the bushes. We also connected with 2 Ring Ouzel although they were elusive. Time for home now so no time to visit the RSPB or ARC reserves.
Pics below; Red-breasted Goose at South Swale NR, Bearded Tit at Swale NR, Glaucous Gull at Dungeness, Ring Ouzel at Dungeness Bird Observatory, Chiffchaff at Dungeness Bird Observatory.

Friday, 19 October 2012

No Icing

A couple of hours at Winterton this morning before returning home. In the bushes; Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff. On the sea; Red-throated Diver, Guillemot, Gannet.
An enjoyable week but we had to work had for our birds. I think we deserved a couple more good quality birds but that's just the way it goes. The lack of easterly winds didn't help.
Paul sent me the pics below; Bearded Tit at Titchwell, Guillemot and Lesser Whitethroat at Winterton, Turnstones at Ness Point.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Otter than July

Day 6. Thursday 18th October 2012.
Another strange kind of day with an extremely quiet start but a decent ending.
First couple of hours seawatch at Winterton, usual suspects but nothing else. Same goes for the south dunes. Not a good start. Off to Breydon Water but the tide right in so nothing doing there. Great Yarmouth Cemetery same as usual. Over to Strumpshaw Fen and within minutes of arriving our spirits were lifted with a Marsh Tit on the feeders near the visitors centre. Then a hike to the Fen hide nothing of note here just a few Cetti's calling along the way. A longer hike to the Tower Hide, at least an hour spent here produced very little. Our spirits extremely dampened and we were at a loose end as to what to do next. We met a couple of birders who said they had just had good views of a Kingfisher from the Fen hide. More in hope than expectation we made our weary way back to the Fen Hide. After a few minutes the Kingfisher flew in and perched on a branch in front of the hide and fished for a couple of minutes, affording good views before flying off.  Our spirits now lifted we headed for the car whilst discussing where to go next. On passing the visitors centre we were alerted to lots of people viewing the pool in front of the centre. We went to view the pool ourselve's and were delighted to see an Otter busily fishing in the centre of the pool. We watched the Otter for some time as it caught and ate numerous fish. Also on the pool an escape Black Swan and a Water Rail. Our day seemed to have taken a turn for the better. In the car park we saw another Marsh Tit. Then a brief visit to Breydon Water South Bank. A good number of waders but fairly distant; Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew, Brent Goose, Mediterranean Gull. To finish the day we decided to head over to Stubbs Mill. We had only been there a few minutes when a Barn Owl showed really well and this was soon joined by a second bird. Lots of Marsh Harriers flew in to roost and a real bonus sighting of a ringtail Hen Harrier flew in and dropped into the long grass to roost. More Marsh Harriers came in to roost and both Barn Owls continued to show well.  It was now nearly dark when several hundred Pink-footed Geese flew over. Then our last action of the day in nearly complete darkness was 16 Common Crane flying in to roost.
The following were added to our week list.
117. Marsh Tit, Strumpshaw Fen.
118. Kingfisher, Strumpshaw Fen.
119. Water Rail, Strumpshaw Fen.
120. Hen Harrier, Stubbs Mill.
Pics below Kingfisher at Strumpshaw Fen and Barn Owl at Stubbs Mill.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pull the other one

Day 5. Today was a funny old day, not quite sure how to descibe it but here goes.
First thing this morning a couple of hours seawatch at our usual spot at Winterton. Heavy rain made for poor visibilty although this eventually cleared. Only the usual suspects on the sea but today there were less of them. A walk in the south dunes soon produced; Lesser Whitethroat (2) and a pleasant surprise of Tree Sparrow (3). This was all we could manage in the south dunes. Our plan was to pay a visit to Minsmere next but on returning to our car we bumped into some other birders who said they visited the previous day and the reserve was quiet with bulldozers causing some disturbance. So where to go next? We decided on another seawatch as visibility had improved considerably. We were soon glad we did as we were able to add both Kittiwake and Arctic Skua to our week list. Our plan was then to go to Yarmouth Cemetery and Breydon Water, however, shortly after leaving Winterton news of a White-rumped Sandpiper had us heading for Salthouse. Halfway there news came through that the White-rumped Sandpiper had flown off. We headed for Salthouse anyway. On arrival there were lots of birders but no bird. Lots of Turnstones were all we could manage. So we seawatched from the shingle bank at Salthouse. We saw Red-breasted Merganser (3) here. Not quite sure what to do next we headed for Wells Woods. We were just about to leave Salthouse when a "mega alert" of an Egyptian Vulture over Morston had us heading in that direction. Several sightings soon came through and we ended up on a concrete pad in a field between Stiffkey and Wells. Here we joined a number of other birders, some quite excited and some over excited. A few had already seen the Vulture. A few minutes later we struck lucky when the Egyptian Vulture flew into view. However, soon after this news broke that this bird was not unsurprisingly an escape. It later turned out that it even had bells on! So on to Wells where we spent some time in the woods, again slightly disapointing here with only numerous Goldcrest and Coal Tit. We did manage to add a Nuthatch to our week list. On our walk back to the car more news of the White-rumped Sandpiper. It was now on the North Scrape at Cley. So off to Cley we go. We park in the beach car park and hot foot it towards the hide overlooking the North Scrape. On our way we were told that the bird had flown off again! Now what? Another seawatch perhaps? Soon after we had begun yet another seawatch the White-rumped Sandpiper was seen on Pat's Pool. So back to the car and around to the car park outside the visitor centre. On our way from the car towards the hides overlooking Pat's Pool we were told by a reserve warden that the bird could now be seen in front of Bishop's Hide. So an about turn and off to Bishop's Hide. Bishop's Hide was quite full but we soon connected with the White-rumped sandpiper as it fed along the far edge of an island 50 meters from the hide. We had good views for 10-15 minutes before it disappeared behind a mound on the island. We waited for about half an hour but it did not re-appear. Also noted from this hide; Snipe, Ruff, Golden Plover, Avocet, Yellow-legged Gull, Pintail, Stonechat. Still time to squeeze a little more birding out of the day. We visited Warham Greens where there is a winter Harrier roost. Although a little early in the year we thought we would give it a go. We saw a single Marsh Harrier and a possible male Hen Harrier but it was too distant and the light not good enough for a positive i.d. So this won't be on our week list. We also had really good views of a Barn Owl. Also here 12+ Little Egret. A nice end to a funny old day.
110. Tree Sparrow, Winterton.
111. Arctic Skua, Winterton.
112. Kittiwake, Winterton.
113. Nuthatch, Wells Woods.
114. White-rumped Sandpiper, Cley
115.Yellow-legged Gull, Cley
116. Stonechat, Cley.
Poor quality pics of Tree Sparrow at Winterton below.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Are you Shore?

Day 4. Tuesday 16th October 2012.
We started off with a seawatch at Winterton. Fairly quiet with just a few Gannets, Red-throated Divers, Guillemots, Brent Geese and unusually a Grey Heron in off the sea. We then walked the South Dunes where we faired slightly better. Ring Ouzel and Lesser Whitethroat (2) the best birds here. Then a walk in the North Dunes, high winds made for difficult conditions little or nothing here but we did connect with Reed Bunting (2). Tony had to leave us to prepare for a funeral tomorrow and Paul was also homeward bound. With not too much of interest being reported Brendan and myself were at a bit of a loose end as to where to go next. News of a Shorelark at Benacre had us heading off to Benacre NNR, however, for some reason we had great difficulty finding this reserve. After going round in circles for quite some time we found out that the bird was to be found nearer to Kessingland than Benacre. So this is where we ended up. After walking about half a mile south along the beach at Kessingland we soon connected with the Shorelark showing well and loosely associating with the numerous Pied Wagtails in the shingle and on the more grassy areas.
Pics below; Lesser Whitethroat Winterton South Dunes, Shorelark at Kessingland.

107. Ring Ouzel, Winterton.

108. Reed Bunting, Winterton.
109. Shorelark, Kessingland.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Day 3. Monday 15th October 2012.

We started off by travelling north to Titchwell. Here we added 25 species to our week list. From Titchwell we stopped off at nearby Choseley Drying Barns, here we added Yellowhammer and Stock Dove. Then close to Choseley we connected with Grey Partridge. We then headed off to Kelling Quags and on route we added Canada Goose. At Kelling we encountered a Pectoral Sandpiper, here we also saw a Short-eared Owl fly in off the sea. Then off to Buckenham Marshes which was slightly disapointing, nothing much of note here just c20 Barnacle Goose of unknown origin and several Buzzard but little else. Final site of the day was the Horsey Straits where we connected with 4 Common Crane, 2 Barn Owl and another Short-eared Owl.

77. Red-legged Partridge, Titchwell.
78. Little Grebe, Titchwell.
79. Tufted Duck, Titchwell.
80. Siskin, Titchwell.
81. Bearded Tit, Titchwell.
82. Swallow, Titchwell.
83. Redshank, Titchwell.
84. Curlew, Titchwell.
85. Cetti's Warbler, Titchwell.
86. Shoveler, Titchwell.
87. Lapwing, Titchwell.
88. Ruff, Titchwell.
89. Dunlin, Titchwell.
90. Avocet, Titchwell.
91. Golden Plover, Titchwell.
92. Grey Plover, Titchwell.
93. Snipe, Titchwell.
94. Sanderling, Titchwell.
95. Knot, Titchwell.
96. Black-tailed Godwit, Titchwell.
97. Bar-tailed Godwit, Titchwell.
98. Red-breasted Merganser, Titchwell.
99. Spoonbill, Titchwell.
100. Pintail, Titchwell.
101. Shelduck, Titchwell.
102. Yellowhammer, Choseley.
103. Stock Dove, Choseley.
104. Grey Partridge, Choseley.
105. Pectoral Sandpiper, Kelling Quags.
106. Barn Owl, Horsey Straits.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Day 2 of "4 go sad in Norfolk and Suffolk"

Day 2 Birding Break
Sunday 14th October 2012
An early start as usual this time a seawatch at Ness Point. Poor visibilty and not much moving, the best we could do here was c30 Turnstone, Gannet, Sandwich Tern, Rock Pipit. From here we moved to nearby Maltsters Score where we were hoping to connect with Firecrest but drew a blank. So not a good start to the day. Next up was a visit to the Sparrows Nest Park and general area. We  were hoping to connect with Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warbler but again no luck. We did, however, we did connect with Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Chiffchaff and Blackcap to add to our "week list". Kensington Gardens was our next site but all we managed here was a pot of tea and a bacon roll each (thanks Tony!). Then over to Oulton Broad where we had great views of a Slavonian Grebe showing down to 3 or 4 meters at times. Our next stop was Yarmouth Cemetery which offered us only Redwing and numerous Goldcrests, no Firecrest or Yellow-browed Warblers. You could say a "dead loss". You could say that but it would not be at all funny! A seawatch in the rain at Winterton proved productive with Red-throated Diver, Guillemot, Gannet, Ringed Plover, but best of all a Short-eared Owl in off the sea. We also witnessed a Guillemot close to the shore being harrassed by several gulls, it looked to be in distress but we headed off before we could determine it's fate, but we feared the worst. Finally a visit to Stubbs Mill. Here we managed 30+ Marsh Harrier and 18 Common Crane. Today was quite hard going and our list is now up to 76 species. Todays additions are listed below.
59. Greylag Goose, Oulton Broad.
60. Egyptian Goose, Oulton Broad.
61. Wigeon, Winterton.
62. Great Crested Grebe, Oulton Broad.
63.Slavonian Grebe, Oulton Broad.
64. Little Egret, Breydon Water.
65. Moorhen, Stubbs Mill.
66. Coot, Oulton Broad.
67. Common Crane, Stubbs Mill.
68. Ringed Plover, Winterton.
69. Lesser Black-backed Gull, Ness Point.
70. Short-eared Owl, Winterton.
71. Green Woodpecker, Yarmouth Cemetry.
72. Rock Pipit, Ness Point.
73. Blackcap, Lowestoft.
74. Chiffchaff, Lowestoft.
75. Coal Tit, Sparrows Nest.
76. Treecreeper, Sparrows Nest.

Slavonian Grebe at Oulton Broad.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Birding Break

A weeks birding staying in South Norfolk with Paul, Brendan and Tony.

First up was a couple of hours sea-watching and then a walk in the north and south dunes at Winterton. A decent start to our day with the most notable sightings as follows; Red-throated Diver, Guillemot, Razorbill, Common Scoter, Eider, Common Gull, Little Gull, Sandwich Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, House Martin.

Next stop was Horsey Track where the best we could manage was Pink-footed Goose, Sparrowhawk, Goldcrest, Redwing and Buzzard.

Horsey Strait; Marsh Harrier.

Corton; Long-tailed Tit flock!

Ness Point; Red-throated Diver, Turnstone.

A slow start with 58 species encountered. Full list below in no particular order.

1.Mute Swan, Horsey.
2. Pink-footed Goose, Horsey.
3. Brent Goose, Winterton.
4. Gadwall, Winterton.
5. Teal, Winterton.
6. Mallard, Horsey.
7. Eider, Winterton.
8. Common Scoter, Winterton.
9.Pheasant, Winterton.
10. Red-throated Diver.
11. Gannet, Winterton.
12. Cormorant, Winterton.
13. Grey Heron, Winterton.
14. Marsh Harrier, Horsey.
15. Sparrowhawk, Winterton.
16. Buzzard, Horsey.
17. Kestrel, Winterton.
18. Turnstone, Ness Point.
19. Black-headed Gull, Winterton.
20. Little Gull, Winterton.
21. Mediterranean Gull, Winterton.
22. Common Gull, Winterton.
23. Herring Gull, Winterton.
24. Great Black-backed Gull, Winterton.
25. Sandwich Tern, Winterton.
26. Guillemot, Winterton.
27. Razorbill, Winterton.
28. Wood Pigeon, Winterton.
29. Collared Dove, Winterton.
30. Great-spotted Woodpecker, Winterton.
31. Skylark, Winterton.
32. House Martin, Winterton.
33. Meadow Pipit, Winterton.
34. Pied Wagtail, Winterton.
35. Wren, Winterton.
36. Dunnock, Winterton.
37. Robin, Winterton.
38. Blackbird, Winterton.
39. Song Thrush, Corton.
40. Redwing, Horsey.
41. Mistle Thrush, Winterton.
42. Lesser Whitethroat, Winterton.
43. Willow Warbler, Winterton.
44. Goldcrest, Winterton.
45. Long-tailed Tit, Winterton.
46. Blue Tit, Winterton.
47. Great Tit, Winterton.
48. Jay, Winterton.
49. Magpie, Winterton.
50. Jackdaw, Winterton.
51. Rook, Scratby.
52. Carrion Crow, Winterton.
53. Starling, Winterton.
54. House Sparrow, Winterton.
55. Chaffinch, Winterton.
56. Greenfinch, Winterton.
57. Goldfinch, Winterton.
58. Linnet, Winterton.
Red-throated Diver at Ness Point

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Keyhaven in the mist

Tuesday 9th October 2012. A day off work so an opportunity for some birding, however, I had no idea of where to go. Eventually I decided to go to Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes on the Hampshire coast. I arrived about 07:30 and was slightly disapointed to find the area shrouded in mist. After about an hour the mist started clearing making for better visibilty but fairly soon after that it started to drizzle this gradually got worse and turned into quite heavy rain. The most noteworthy birds encountered in the 3 hours I spent here were; Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Brent Goose, Kingfisher, Wigeon, Teal, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler. Also several hundred Swallow and House Martin. Whilst walking along the sea wall I noted a Sparrowhawk pluck a Swallow from the air. I was now soaking wet and considered heading for home. Instead of heading home I made my my way to Pig Bush in the New Forest and although it was now raining hard I decided to have a wander. Little or nothing was noted here in heavy rain. So time to head home. With the heater in the car on full blast I soon warmed up and dried out also the further north I got the drier the weather. When I got nearer to home I made a spur of the moment decision to go to Ivinghoe Beacon. Not a bad idea as it turned out as here I encountered the following; Stonechat, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Redwing, Skylark.
Greenshank at Keyhaven
Redshank at Keyhaven
Turnstone at Keyhaven
Meadow Pipit at Keyhaven
Ringed Plover at Keyhaven
Wheatear at Keyhaven
Wheatear at Keyhaven
Stonechat at Ivinghoe Beacon
Stonechat at Ivinghoe Beacon
Stonechat at Ivinghoe Beacon
Stonechat at Ivinghoe Beacon
Stonechat at Ivinghoe Beacon
Kestrel at Ivinghoe Beacon
Marsh Tit near Incombe Hole
Marsh Tit near Incombe Hole
Marsh Tit near Incombe Hole
Marsh Tit near Incombe Hole

Saturday, 6 October 2012

LEO at Elmley

An afternoon in Kent with Ephraim, Paul and Brendan. Our first stop was Elmley Marshes. Viewing from the car along the entrance track to the reserve we noted Marsh Harrier, Curlew. Then from the car park; Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail. Our target bird was the Long-eared Owl that has been roosting in the orchard a short walk from the car park. We walked up to the orchard and it was not long before we connected with a roosting Long-eared Owl. We enjoyed excellent views and in fact the pic below does not do it justice. After enjoying the owl for some time we headed over to St Margrets at Cliffe. Here we were hoping to see Wryneck. We parked the car and started walking and as we were walking two different birders stopped their cars as they were leaving to give us directions to the Wryneck. This proved most helpfull as we were able to walk along the cliff top and we soon connected with the Wryneck. We enjoyed good views but the bird was a little flighty. Also seen here; Wheatear, Whinchat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Gannet.


Wow Factor

One of the blogs I follow is Andy William's "Pelagic Birder". He recently encountered a white morph Gyr Falcon. You can read an account and see some amazing pics here

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Short Funicular Vid

Funicular train leaving top base station. Cairngorm on 30/09/2012

More pics

More pics. Captions "bottom up"
Sluggan Bridge

Non birding at Sluggan Bridge

Wifey braving the wind atop Cairngorm

Swallows at Loch of Strathbeg car park

Geese from Tower Pool hide Loch of Strathbeg

Rattray Lighthouse

Sanderling at Rattray

Sanderling at Rattray

Wheater at Rattray

Pink-footed Geese over Rattray