Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Grey Phalarope Hillfield Reservoir

A quick visit to Hillfield Reservoir before work today. Luckily for me the Grey Phalarope showed well albeit a little briefly from the viewing platform.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

I Heard You The First Time

Saturday 26th October 2013.
A days birding with Brendan, Paul and Ephraim. Our initial plan to go Christchurch for a Pallid Swift was scuppered when it was taken by a Sparrowhawk on Friday afternoon. After a team "conference call" it was decided we would head for Norfolk (how predictable!). Our targets Pallid Swift at Cromer and wait and see if the Radde's Warbler is reported at Happisburgh. We arrived at Cromer about 09:00 and made our way along the cliff top towards the pier. We hung around here for a while but no Swift. We then made our way to the Church but again no luck here either. We stayed for a while longer but then news of a Richard's Pipit at Cley prompted a team meeting and the outcome was that we headed to the Beach Car Park at Cley. On arrival lots of birders were searching for the Pipit and we joined in for a while. No luck with the Pipit so we had a seawatch hoping the Pipit would re-appear or news of something else would break. A pleasant enough seawatch produced; Gannet, Red-throated Diver, Razorbill and Common Scoter. It started raining so we decided to have "sandwich break". Whilst enjoying our Tesco's "Meal Deals" news came on Brendan's pager of a Pallid Swift at Trimingham. So off we went back in the same direction we had just come from. On arrival at the layby in Trimingham opposite Woodlands Holiday Park, some birders were hastily getting in their cars and speeding off. We managed to ask one birder where they were off to? Our quarry the Pallid Swift was being watched at a garden centre nearby. First left then first right were the directions. Off we sped to the garden centre at Hungry Hill, Northrepps.  I parked up and we made our way to the rear of the garden centre where we immediately connected with the Pallid Swift as it flew low over the field directly and towards us. Although we watched the Swift for quite a while, apart from our first views it was always fairly distant. We did speak to a photographer who had been there for some time and had some good close up shots of the Swift he was 100% certain our bird was a Pallid Swift. Our initial views only revealed  paler plumage than a Common Swift with a noticeable pale throat. The Swift had by now flown out of site so we headed to the cliff top path between Mundesley and Bacton Gas Works,. Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting had previously been seen here.  On route, near the Church in Trimingham, Ephraim stated shouting excitedly, "Swift, Swift, Swift" I thought he wanted me to drive faster but as I had already been flashed by a speed camera on the outskirts of Norwich I ignored him. He followed his first comments up with, "over the car, over the car". I caught out of the corner of my eye a Swift sp and immediately pulled over. Brendan leapt out of the car as it was still moving and we all soon joined him to view what we believe to be the Pallid Swift we had been watching just a few minute's ago. The owner of the house we were outside "the Brambles" came out to see what we were looking at. When we told him he ran back in to get his son and his bins and joined us watching the Pallid Swift. He even lent Brendan his phone to contact RBA with the news. What a nice man! We watched the Swift disappear in the direction of the Church, said our goodbye's to the owner of "the Brambles" and continued on to Bacton Gas Works. We headed back along the cliff top path at the rear of the gas works and towards Mundesley Holiday Village. At the rear of the gas works a White sp, Peacock and Clouded Yellow butterflies. We finally reached the field where we were hoping to see Lapland and Snow Bunting. Ephraim went off for a stroll, Paul and Brendan began scanning the field and I walked off to have a look at the next field. I was about 50 yards from Paul and Brendan when I noticed a Lapland bunting in the rough grass on the edge of the path. When I turned round to alert Paul and Brendan I noticed a Snow Bunting on the path that ran away to my right (the path that is not the Snow Bunting!). Paul and Brendan quickly joined me and also Ephraim soon after. By this time the Lapland Bunting had flown a few yards into a Turnip/root vegetable sp field. Paul located it almost immediately as it fed in amongst the plants. It was no more than two or three yards away at times. The Snow Bunting was equally obliging also offering "crippling" views. Whilst we were here 2 officers from the local constabulary joined us as they thought we were doing some surveillance on the gas works for an impending terrorist attack. How ridiculous, out of the 4 of us only Ephraim looks capable of mass destruction! After a while the Lapland Bunting moved deeper into the field so we decided to leave it in peace and head back to the car. From Bacton we headed back towards Trimingham and not sure how or why but we ended up back at the layby where we had been informed of the Pallid Swift at the nearby garden centre. Anyway we were glad we did as the Pallid Swift was showing exceptionally well from the layby opposite Woodland Holiday Park. We spent some time viewing this Swift and there was no doubting it was indeed a Pallid!
Our final stop of the day was one of our old favourites, the "Raptor Roost" at Stubb Mill. A really nice end to the day with not only lots of Marsh Harriers including several males but also, Merlin, Ringtail Hen Harrier, Great-white Egret, 20 Common Crane. A nice end to a long day, out of the door at 05:30 and back home at 21:30. I'm just going to check to see if this is my 500th post, if not it's definitely one of my longest! [nope "South of the Café" was my 500th but i'm still having choccie biscuits to celebrate!] Paul's pics below; Snow Bunting, Bacton. Lapland Bunting, Bacton. Pallid Swift, Trimingham.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

South of the Cafe

A visit to Winterton on Sea. My 2 targets were Shore Lark and Velvet Scoter. Both species had been reported as "south of the café". I spent about 45 minutes searching the beach side of the dunes and also scanning the Common Scoter flock. No luck for me or several other birders with either species. Then our luck changed as out of the Marram Grass flew 3 Shore Lark. We enjoyed good views of the Shore Larks before they were flushed by the thousands of dog walkers on the beach. Our attention then turned to a small flock of Scoter that were close in and of a much darker colour than the larger flock that contained mainly female and juvenile Common Scoter. On closer inspection all five birds were drake Velvet Scoter. Nice!
iphonescoped Shore Lark pics below.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Black Point Semi

A trip to Hayling Island with Paul, Ephraim and Ian B in the hope of connecting with a Semi-palmated Plover, a lifer for all 4 of us. A later start than normal due to Ian's research into the tide times. We arrived at Black Point around about 10:00 and made our way to the sandy spit near the yacht club. Here we joined another 50+ birders all scanning the Ringed Plovers and Dunlin. One bird looked quite interesting but did not quite fit the bill. After about half an hour of scanning someone called that they had the bird and sure enough there it was on a patch of seaweed with two Ringed Plovers for comparison. My not too technical observations of this bird were; slightly smaller and with a smaller bill than ringed plover and to me the plumage appeared a little "softer" than Ringed Plover. We enjoyed some decent scope views before the incoming tide and the nearby wind surfers forced it and all the other waders to fly off. Not to worry as it was soon located on the nearby shingle beach. Not such easy viewing here as it was roosting over a ridge and not easy to see. We did grab some fleeting views before all the waders got up and flew off in the direction of the yacht club. Fair play to several birders who had decent viewing positions for allowing people who had not seen the bird to view it through their scopes. It was now raining so we decided to head off in search of a Yellow-browed Warbler that had been reported near the yacht club. As we left the flock of waders returned and the Semi-palmated Plover was amongst them. No luck with the Yellow-browed so we headed off to Hayling Island Oyster Beds. On route a late Swallow flew over the road. Not a great deal at the Oyster Beds but a lone Arctic Tern was of interest. After a brief team meeting we decided to finish the day at Thursley Common in the hope of connecting with a Great-grey Shrike that regularly overwinters there. At Thursley Common we were lucky enough to connect with the Great-grey Shrike fairly quickly. We did get decent views but the light was poor and the Shrike quite mobile. Also here were a few hundred Fieldfare with a hundred or so Redwing. Near to the car park a single Crossbill flew over calling. Semipalmated Plover pic below lifted from Ian B's tweet. Thanks Ian. Dodgy Shrike pics are mine

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Paul F's Cornwall Trip Pics

Paul's cornwall trip pics below.
Bar-tailed Godwit-Hayle

Buzzard on telegraph ploe







Cirl Bunting

Cot Valley

Cot Valley

Chough Hunters L to R sh4rpy, Brendan G and Tony S.

Cot Valley

Cot Valley

Daurian Shrike-Pendeen

Caterpillar of the Broom Moth-thanks Ian B for the id


Lesser Yellowlegs-Hayle

Lesser Yellowlegs-Hayle



Pied Flycatcher-Pendeen Costcutter

View from our campsite-How romantic, just the four of us!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Fungus the Bogeyman

I found this interesting fungus in my garden on my return from Cornwall. But what is it? It was growing on or near an old Willow stump.
Update! I received the following from Paul Lewis. Thanks Paul!"Hi Sharpy I think the top 2 photos are of Sulphur Tuft although I'm no expert on fungi!!! The bottom picture might be of Honey Fungus but I'm less sure of this!"

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Wot no Coot

Our Cornwall week list below.

Sat 05/10/2013   
1 : Arctic Skua    Pendeen
2 : Bar-tailed Godwit    Hayle Estuary
3 : Blackbird    Kenidjack Valley
4 : Blackcap    Kenidjack Valley
5 : Black-headed Gull    Hayle Estuary
6 : Black-winged Stilt    Hayle Estuary
7 : Blue Tit    Kenidjack Valley
8 : Brent Goose    Hayle Estuary
9 : Buzzard    St Just
10 : Carrion Crow    St Just
11 : Chaffinch    Kenidjack Valley
12 : Chiffchaff    Kenidjack Valley
13 : Collared Dove    Hayle Estuary
14 : Common Gull    Hayle Estuary
15 : Common Scoter    Pendeen
16 : Cormorant    Hayle Estuary
17 : Curlew    Hayle Estuary
18 : Dunnock    Pendeen
19 : Gannet    Pendeen
20 : Goldcrest    Pendeen
21 : Goldfinch    Kenidjack Valley
22 : Great Black-backed Gull    Hayle Estuary
23 : Great Tit    Kenidjack Valley
24 : Grey Heron    Hayle Estuary
25 : Grey Wagtail    Kenidjack Valley
26 : Greylag Goose    Hayle Estuary
27 : Guillemot    Pendeen
28 : Herring Gull    Hayle Estuary
29 : House Sparrow    Kenidjack Valley
30 : Daurian Shrike    Pendeen
31 : Jackdaw    St Just
32 : Jay    St Just
33 : Kestrel    Pendeen
34 : Lesser black-backed Gull    Kenidjack Valley
35 : Linnet    Pendeen
36 : Little Egret    Hayle Estuary
37 : Magpie    St Just
38 : Manx Shearwater    Pendeen
39 : Meadow Pipit    Pendeen
40 : Mute Swan    Hayle Estuary
41 : Oystercatcher    Hayle Estuary
42 : Pheasant    St Just
43 : Pied Flycatcher    Pendeen
44 : Pied Wagtail    Pendeen
45 : Raven    Pendeen
46 : Redshank    Hayle Estuary
47 : Robin    Pendeen
48 : Rock Pipit    Kenidjack Valley
49 : Rook    St Just
50 : Shag    Pendeen
51 : Sparrowhawk    Pendeen
52 : Spotted Flycatcher    Pendeen
53 : Starling    Pendeen
54 : Stonechat    Pendeen
55 : Swallow    Pendeen
56 : Teal    Hayle Estuary
57 : Wheatear    Pendeen
58 : Whinchat    Pendeen
59 : Whitethroat    St Just
60 : Wigeon    Hayle Estuary
61 : Wood Pigeon    St Just
62 : Wren    St Just
63 : Wryneck  
Sun 06/10/2013   
64 : Canada Goose  Hayle Estuary
65 : Cirl Bunting  Roselands
66 : Coal Tit  Roselands
67 : Dunlin  Hayle Estuary
68 : Greenshank  Hayle Estuary
69 : Lapwing  Hayle Estuary
70 : Lesser Yellowlegs  Hayle Estuary
71 : Little Grebe  Roselands
72 : Little Stint  Hayle Estuary
73 : Mallard  Marazion
74 : Moorhen  Marazion
75 : Peregrine  Hayle Estuary
76 : Osprey  Hayle Estuary
77 : Reed Bunting  Roselands
78 : Ruff  Hayle Estuary
79 : Skylark  Roselands
80 : Snipe  Marazion
81 : Stock Dove  Hayle Estuary
82 : Tawny Owl (calling)  St Just
83 : Turnstone  Marazion
Mon 07/10/2013   
84 : Chough  Cot Valley
85 : Great Skua  Porthgwarra
86 : Kittiwake  Porthgwarra
87 : Merlin  Cot Valley
88 : Sandwich Tern  Pendeen
89 : Snow Bunting  Pendeen
90 : Water Rail (squealing)  St Levan
91 : Yellow-browed Warbler  St Levan
Tues 08/10/2013   
92 : Black-necked Grebe  Drift Reservoir
93 : Common Sandpiper  Drift Reservoir
94 : Great Crested Gebe  Drift Reservoir
95 : Greenfinch  Drift Reservoir
96 : Kingfisher  Drift Reservoir
97 : Long-tailed Tit  Drift Reservoir
98 : Reed Warbler  Nanquidno
99 : Sedge Warbler  St Levan
100 : Tufted Duck  Drift Reservoir
Weds 09/10/2013   
101 : Balearic Shearwater  Pendeen
102 : Great-spotted Woodpecker  Cot Valley
103 : Razorbill  Pendeen
104 : Sabine's Gull  Pendeen
105 : Sooty Shearwater  Pendeen
106 : Turtle Dove  Zennor
Thurs 10/10/2013   
107 : Black-tailed Godwit  Hayle Estuary
108 : Knot  Hayle Estuary
Fri 11/10/2013   
109 : Green Woodpecker  Nanquidno
110 : Redwing  Cot Valley
111 : Song Trush  Kenidjack Valley
112 : White Wagtail  Nanquidno

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Trip Pics

I didn't take many pics but here they are anyway. Green Bush Cricket not in the best of health. Convolvulus Hawk Moth and Deaths Head Hawk Moth at Cot Valley. Snow Bunting at Pendeen. One or two Black-winged Stilt pics at the Hayle. Daurian Shrike at Pendeen. Reed Warbler at Nanquidno Valley