Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Better late than never

27th December, Barton and Wroxham Broad.
The drake Ferruginous Duck had been showing well for a few days. I speculated that it could have been last winter's bird from Hoveton (I tried for this around 6 times, unsuccessfully). Could this be the day I finally catch up with this species? A helpful phone call from TA gave me directions and a bit of motivation! After finding the tiny car park and negotiating the ice covered board walk, myself and my girlfriend were treated to excellent views of a drake Ferruginous Duck! Field notes- same colour hair as my girlfriend. Little sign of white under wing patches.
2 lifers in a day? Drove on to Wroxham Broad, over confident. The Ring Necked Duck had put in the odd appearance of late; surely I couldn't nail this as well? After a nervy wait, a female Ring Necked Duck slid into view, slightly obscured by some garden furniture and twigs. Eventually we did get to see the key characteristics: peaked crown, white bands on bill. All good! Could just about pick it out as it rested, that cone head is a give-away.
Been chasing this pair on and off since the tail end of last year; how typical I should finally get to see both on the same day.


Some Christmas birding reports

Been busy with the new Cantona biography, hence the lack of updates. But, I have been out and about.....
Boxing Day.
Started at the Orwell again, certainly an increase in terms of volume of waders and ducks, but again no rarer grebes or divers. There were however 4 shags under the bridge, probably a year tick but who keeps count?!
Moved onto Levington Creek in shocking midwinter light. A distant Great Northern was watched, and what was probably a Red-Necked Grebe hunted closer to the bank. Poor viewing conditions limited me to silhouettes and 'jizz'.Couple of Grey Plover and a Dunlin made up the numbers, along with a Little Egret.
Drove onto the Sailing club at Alton Water via an odd sight of 6 Herons loafing in a field. On arrival, 2 Great Northern Divers were seen with the naked eye, and soon after another 2 were spotted. 4 in one place- a local record? Excellent views were obtained of these beasties. I wonder how many are present in Suffolk right now? Supporting cast included some lovely Goldeneye and a redhead Goosander.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Birding under the Orwell Bridge, Ipswich, Suffolk.

Cracking day under the shadow of the Orwell Bridge. I moved between the bridge itself and Freston marina. Picked up 4 (maybe more) Great Northern Divers in various spots. Now is the time to catch up with one of these beasties! Good Few Red Breasted Mergansers in close attendance, and 2 Shag were a welcome addition. Ducks included Mallard, Wigeon and a small group of Pintail, lovely stuff. Plenty of Great Crested and Little Grebe, but none of the rarer stuff that I could see. No sign of the resident Peregrine, but a Buzzard floating towards Tattingstone gave good views. Waders included Lapwing, Dunlin and Redshank.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

New Buckenham Common 13/12/09

An early morning walk round The Common proved productive with large numbers of Thrushes on the move, mainly Fieldfares but there were some Redwings and the odd Song Thrush amongst the mass groups of their larger cousins.
The sorrowful call of a Bullfinch alerted me to its presence, and after a nice flight view a lovely male landed and gave us a brief look. A first for my girlfriend!
The rain soon came down so we retreated back home, but I hope to spend longer here over the winter period. Habitat seems ideal for hunting birds of prey and roving flocks of Redpoll and Siskin.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Great Moulton, 05/12/09

Too distraught to blog last week after again failing to catch up with the RN Duck at Wroxham Broad. No news either way during the week, so I avoided a return trip and had a look round some farmland in Great Moulton. I like this area of the county, and the bird report would have us believe Long eared Owls can be found in these ere parts..... I searched likely spots to no avail, but had an enjoyable time admiring mixed Thrush flocks and general farmland stuff. Will make a return trip in the new year, lots of unexplored potential here.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Happisburgh 'sea front', 21/11/09

Not much to report I'm afraid. The winds, although from the 'wrong' direction, appeared to have pushed a few Gannets closer to the cliffs allowing good scope views. A good mix of Gulls littered the sea, and I don't mind admitting a few just went down as 'large Gull' rather than a species! 3 Turnstone were the highlight, working the tide and the wooden defences for food.
A skein of around 60 Pink Footed Geese flew West, and a singleton struggled against the wind 15 minutes later with some catching up to do.
A tit flock adjacent to the beach car park was grilled for any late suprises, none were forthcoming despite nice views of the common Tit species together.
Why I didn't stop at Wroxham Broad on the way home I'll never know, but one of the 2 Ducks that
gave me the run around last winter has returned- The Ring Necked. Here we go again.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dusky proves difficult

Elusive is a word often thrown around to describe both troublesome birds and easterly winds, and there was almost an absence of both today at Warrenhouse Wood, Lowestoft. After being told the bird sounded like a Stonechat, I caught brief flight views of the Dusky Warbler before it disappeared into cover. Glimpses of the bird in the undergrowth were gained, for what it was worth. A lot of waiting around, tape luring from some, and straining of eyes and ears ensued. Brief views of the bird moving through trees as the afternoon shadows lengthened, and that was as good as it got! Cracking bird? I'm Sure it was, although my views didn't really do it justice. Able to confirm it on the 'tack-tack' call more than views.
Beautiful day, only low point was the feeling that Autumn was limping to a close. Hopefully said bird will overwinter and allow better views in the near future.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

teacher's week

Not in the Scillies, that will have to wait. For what I'm not sure.
One or Two bits to report, so I'll lump it under one entry to save hassle.
Happisburgh on Thursday was very quiet. Very little of note aside from a tame Egyptian Goose cavorting with the Mallards by the road through the village. The clifftop walk and Doggetts Lane revealed a sickly Chaffinch, a single Gannet out at sea and some kids burning an old caravan down by the rocks.
Pushed onto Waxham, deciding to bash through a but of cover behind the Church. The noise of Blackbirds going nuts got the pulse racing, so I slid down the seawall into the cover to see the back end of an Owl retreating, which I originally thought to be Tawny. The Blackbirds helped me relocate the bird and I was 'treated' to similar views- damn! However, I did notice a very pale underwing and after a chat with T.A who was in the area, it was agreed that it was most likely a Long eared Owl. One of my favourite species, and I have come across a few in recent years but never good views!
Finished at Horsey with a red sun-set and Geese; wonderful stuff. A silohuetted Falcon catching insects in the near dark was probably a young kestrel, but I have since considered Red-Footed, although this would be a very late record. The behaviour and time of day just seemed odd for a Kestrel.
Met a friend at Holkham yesterday and we walked through the pinewoods. Tit flocks were vocal and Jays were very forthcoming. At the end of the trail, with a view towards Burnham, I picked up a Peregrine Falcon on the ground, having a drink from a puddle! Great views, and presumably the same bird was seen in flight over the bay later on that morning. Marsh Harrier and Kestrel also seen well.
I tried for the Shotesham Siberian Chiffy on the way home, after an hours wait I had seen a blue tit, lots of thrushes and a lady getting her washing in. I decided it was best to admit defeat for now. Nice area and some accommodating locals, many thanks to the finder and the residents. I will try again before I go back to work, if time allows.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Minsmere and Thorpeness 26/10/09

Great White Egret seen from the overspill carpark, been present sometime. Presumably the same bird seen again later in the vicinity of Bittern hide. Huge birds in flight, unmistakeable and no doubt only a matter of time until a pair breeds here.
The new feeders around the ponds proved a good spot to observe Marsh and Coal Tit. Bearded Tits pinged and for once showed themselves as we walked to the beach. The sea was quiet and suprisingly calm, nothing doing except for load of gulls following a fishing boat too far out to ID. The east scrape held 3 Blackwit, a Turnstone, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Spotted Redshank but were dominated by the return of many Teal and Wigeon. a few skeins of Barnacle geese flew through, in their number was a snow/feral goose; white body, brown wings. Anyone see this bird? A leucistic Moorhen on the scrape has been causing some fuss, some are reporting it as a Little Crake apparently!
Although the sluice bushes were quiet, still felt the day could deliver so we searched the old caravan site at Thorpeness. Shedloads of Robins, LT Tits and Blackbirds. Mother did have a small Warbler with a wing bar, poor views but could well have been a YBW or even a Pallas's? The one that got away.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

17th October, North Norfolk Coast et al

*Stop press* Friday afternoon I finished a meeting at Broadland high earlier than expected, so searched in vain for the Horsey Pied Wheatear. Despite a pill box full of everything but a Wheatear, it was not a wasted trip. A Pomarine Skua flew inland over my head, amazing views. Fields in the area were full of Golden Plover, Turnstone mingled with the new arrivals. A Bonxie flew inland at Sea Palling in X-treme conditions. It stank of rare.

Saturday itself, and I decided to pump the phone with RBA credits. began at Pretty corner woods in Sheringham in search of a Red Breasted Flycatcher. No luck, a real bogey bird for me. Did enjoy 2 Firecrest and and Bullfinch.
West Runton, and for the second time this year a Short Toed Lark. Definite views in flight, and to be honest I was convinced I had the bird on the fence, but taking into account afterthought and views of fellow blogger James (sorry, did nay realise it was yourself!) I may have to reconsider.
Quick trundle round Overstrand wood revealed a Yaffle, and I decided to push on to Titchwell.
Brief stop at Warham Greens turned up a female Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, a covey of 6 Grey Partridge and a tit fest.
Titchwell itself was very much on form. Ring tail Hen Harrier passed through, a Little Stint hung out with some Dunlin and 2 Shorelark were distant at best. Icing on the cake was a Grey Phalarope, looking very delicate. Cracking bird and a good end to the day.
Pagering? Not really for me, and had it not been for the Phalarope maybe I would have regretted it. However, you do turn up a few familiar faces throughout the day, if not the birds...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

11th October Happisburgh

Decided to follow up the 2 reported Yellow Browed Warblers at Overstrand first thing. No luck, although there seemed to be plenty of Robins and Blackbirds about, some presumably migrants.
Haven't 'done' Happisburgh properly in ages so this was the plan for the day. Started at Whimpwell Green, a good spot from last year. No Warblers, but the paddocks had some good birds. Around 15 Pied Wagtail were feeding amongst horse hooves, and one bird appeared to be of the Alba race. The flock was mobile, some birds in the surrounding trees looked like they were ready for roost, unlikely mid morning. 3 Yellowhammer were on the wires and Chaffinch were vocal. A Sparrowhawk was watched nursing a freshly made kill.
Walking the cliffs, 5 Swallow were late for something, and a flushed Meadow Pipit landed next to a Snow Bunting! The singleton then took off and joined a larger group mid flight, I would guess around 25 birds in all.
At sea, a couple of maybes: a distant Shearwater was probably a Manx, and a Diver passing through was likely to be a Black Throated. Gannets were fishing none too distantly, and 3 Common Scoter breezed past, heading north.
Doggetts Lane was sadly devoid of migrants; I had hoped for so much better! The walk back produced a few more Meadow Pipits and a Wheatear.
Dropping my girlfriend off in North Walsham, the birding wasn't quite done; she spotted 6 Redwing, my first of the Autumn.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Illness=Moths
















A weekend off the birding due to illness. Extremely frustrating hearing others are out and about finding their own birds. The only consolation being that it appears to have been a quietish weekend in this neck of the woods?

Managed to rouse myself for the moth trap, and lured a few beauties in over the 2 nights:

Merveille Du Jour
Large and Lesser Yellow Underwing
Brown Spot Pinion
Barred Sallow
Lunar Underwing
Setaceous Hebrew Character
Black Rustic
Beaded Chestnut
Snout
Blair's Shoulder Knot
Burnished Brass
Red Line Quaker
Red Underwing

Most of these are still very new to me, and whilst I can now put a name to some, every time I trap something new turns up, which is great!
Thoughts for the week? Thursday looks good for sea-watching, although teaching doesn't allow. Hoping for a trundle round east Norfolk next weekend. Some good stuff down at Abberton Reservoir, have not visited before and now seems like a good time.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Ibis at Boyton and garden moths, 26th September.


Not nearly as far away as I thought, Boyton Marshes RSPB proved to be a decent little reserve and excellent views of 3 Glossy Ibis were forthcoming. During the quieter moments you could hear the birds feeding on the flash, lovely stuff. The ringed individual originates from Donana, apparently.

Stonking views of a Water Rail on drugs, dashing about on a concrete track. Beardies and Cettis were typically heard but not seen, and I witnessed a stand off between a Heron and an Egret. A Wall Brown was my second of the year. The grazing meadows here look great for Pipits and Wagtails.

Went to Shingle Street for a bush-bash, nothing doing but clearly bags of potential here.

Had the new Moth trap out over the weekend. Difficult to give a complete list as I am still unsure about some species, but these I am confident of:
Barred Sallow
Dotted Clay
Blair's Shoulder Knot
Lunar Underwing
Large Ranunculus (I think, picture attached)
Large Yellow Underiwng
Autumnal Rustic
Angle Shades
Common Wainscot
Brindled Green
Brown Spot Pinion
Beaded Chestnut
Snout

Of note in my village, a Wheatear flushed on route to the pub, and a Comma through the front garden in glorious weather.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Moth Trapping in a Suffolk garden

Don't be fooled by the blog title; I do moths too now!
Pictures to follow, but here is a list from last night (Sunday):

Barred Sallow- my favourite of the haul.
Brindled Green
Beaded Chestnut
Setaceous Hebrew Character- loads of these, and the award for best name too.
Hebrew Character
Rosy Rustic
Dotted Clay
Lesser Yellow Underwing
Large Yellow Underwing
Common Wainscot

There were a few that 'got away', and some poor pictures which were of no use! But at least we got 10 species nailed on, out of about 25-30 Moths in the trap.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Wells Woods, 20th September

Wells seemed to be the place to go today. Reports had been promising throughout the week, and the large areas of cover offered by the Holkham reserve and Wells are ideal for migrants. I didn't even try to convince the other half that a walk to halfway house was the order of the day; we are not quite at that stage just yet. The Blyth's Reed will have to wait; thankfully they are appearing almost annually in recent years.
Birds were in abundance, in particular female Pied Flycatchers (where are the males?!), Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. A Redstart was faithful to one spot in particular, in contrast to the roving flycatchers. Girlfriend picked out a Spotted Flycatcher and Treecreeper much to my pleasure! All this from one spot, waiting patiently. Shame a few 'birders' onsite were not prepared to do likewise; instead, what became familiar faces charged around and were suprised when they missed out!
After midday we finally decided to change location and headed past the dell and set up shop under some birches interspersed with oaks. 2 Firecrest were as usual a joy, and turned out to be the birds of the day. Another Pied Flycatcher was seen here, along with a Redstart. All female, suprise suprise. Watched the Firecrest until some pratt went trampling through the cover and reedbed behind. He emerged later claiming he could not see any Firecrest. Neither could we, now.
Missed the Yellow-Browed Warbler today, although a glimpse of a phyllosc with a wing bar was no doubt the critter herself. Had to be a her. And did those Glossy Ibis stick about for my journey back to Suffolk today? Did they hell! Must check Pipps Ford this week, fancy one to drop in there.
Drove home today listening to 'Birding from the hip' by the sound approach team. Enjoyable lsiten and dare I say it, therapeutic. Moth trap getting christened tonight; you will read it here first!


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Ortolan causes havoc on public right of way

I had planned to head out to Happisburgh, but my intentions at the start of the year were to be a little more ruthless and pick up more new birds; after all, seeing them in the flesh will be of benefit when I find my own, right?!
On arrival there were already a small group on the east bank footpath, so I joined the queue and waited until those at the front had their fill. One or two miserable sods proceeded to enter the ditch and push to the front. I watched one guy do this who on arrival at 'the front' didn't even bother to help look for the bird! After a wait, I was in prime position to see the bird. It crept onto the path and appeared to feed- brilliant! Ortolan Bunting seen in Norfolk. The drama was not over: a husband and wife combo barged through the group and headed towards the Bunting! Perhaps a little tact was necessary here rather than "where the f*ck do you think you're going" from someone, but still, surely this wasn't happening?! Further cries of "selfish b*stard" emanated from the core of the crowd, but walk on they did, claiming it was their right of way. Yes, it was, but could they have walked down an adjacent track? Anyway, they flushed the bird which looped round in the air for a bit before thankfully landing back on the track, showing even better than before. Always thought he was a top bloke....
Fantastic bird, but the cavalry reminded me why I tend not to twitch all that often. Yes, the bloke was a pratt but then so were most of the crowd. Does this make me a pratt? Don't answer that.
Seawatching had always been my intention today, but by the time I got over to Cley I had missed the best of it. I watched for 2 hours and saw little bar Gannets, Dunlin and Oystercatchers. No Skuas for me, gutting.
Jimmy's Farm music festival next week, could be difficult to crowbar in some birding, which isn't good with NE winds predicted from Thursday.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Landguard chill



Must have been a tough little bird to make it here, considering the onslaught of westerlies in recent weeks. When news broke of a trapped and ringed Arctic Warbler the night before, I put to bed any thoughts of planning and paperwork for the day. After remembering to insure my car (!) I set off after a quick breakfast. I arrived just in time; a shout came down from the obs that the bird had just been re-trapped! Amazing, I would get to see it! Kindly, the bird was bought down for the waiting group to view, before being released. It flew deep into a tamarisk and sometimes obscured views were obtained of the bird preening. I was able to see the long-ish primary projection; also of note was a long and rather stout bill, and of course the super! What a cracker, a lifer for me and proof that even without an easterly blow anything is possible.
Called in at Christchurch Park Ipswich on the way home. Parked at Crown Pools and walked back on myself into the park. Spotted a female Mandarin Duck braving it amongst the Mallards, and a walk round the small lake produced 3 roosting Males. Very much the Gok Wan of the duck world.
Apologies for the poor photos, only had the phone with me.

levington and Landguard


31st August
After a rough day at Mins the day before, I decided to go where I should have gone in the first place. A nice little spot, Levington Creek always seems to have a nice variety of birds with yet again a different array of species today. Golden Plover, Turnstone, Blackwits and Dunlin were in evidence along with the usual Lapwing and Oytercatcher. Some people were photographing Wasp Spiders. No sign of yesterday's Marsh Sandpiper though.
Landguard was quiet, although good views were obtained of Wheatear on the common and Willow Warbler in the bushes. A nice morning.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Minsmere

31st August
An extremely frustrating day on the reserve. Began at Island Mere, and spent well over an hour looking for the Juvenile Fudge duck, which I later discovered had been seen earlier in the morning. Not an easy task sifting through eclipse plumage, loafing wildfowl in poor light. 2 Hobby hawking over Whin Hill on the way back made for a nice antidote. A vigil from Bittern hide proved fruitless- where were the birds today?! Almost inevitably, a Red Footed Falcon was seen in this area late afternoon. Having spent most of the day here, this was another bitter pill to swallow!
Back on the reserve, I returned to the visitor centre to discover a Spotted Crake had been seen from the Konik field. Like a pratt, I got excited and dragged my partner half walking- half running, down to the field. No sign. Plenty of people mis-identifying Moorhens as Water Rail and Snipe as Highland Cattle, par for the course at Mins! Again, spent ages waiting and scanning the edges in the hope it may appear. Not reported again all day, although the finder apparently got photos.
Managed a short time in South Hide before heading home, managed to pick out a Curlew Sandpiper from a Dunlin party.
I almost went to Levington Creek today, fancied it might throw up a good wader: Marsh Sandpiper seen early morning. Great. Not my day, but good to know the birds are out there!

Of note from home, 2 Red Underwing resting on the house, and a Badger gave our carload a suprise late saturday night post-pub.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Minsmere and Sizewell

24th August.
Back to the proper birding and a font size we can hopefully all live with.
Back living in Suffolk until Christmas, so you may notice a somewhat southern twang to my sightings.
The north bushes were finally alive with migrants; at least 4 beautiful Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warbler and Chiffy all stocking up before the big journey. The scrape was dry save for a pocket in the corner which held Green Sandpiper, but a little more action from the public hide. A Greenshank finally gave itself up, Ringed Plover tried to convince us they were 'Little' and 2 Spotted Redshank fed with purpose. The Terns and Gulls were at sea, so it made for a fulfilling and quiet morning.
Of significance in the Dunes, 4 House Sparrow, a bird very rarely recorded her. There did used to be houses near the Sluice, but that was over 100 years ago to my reckoning. Further on, 2 Yellow Wagtails were a nice treat, feeding around the legs of the Konik Ponies. Swallows prepared to leave. We apparently missed 3 Whinchat on the reserve-bugger.
Sizewell was very productive. Offshore at one of the rigs, at least one Black Tern, 40+ Little Gull and around 15 Common Terns. Right on time, an Arctic Skua flew through, not troubling the Terns one bit. Smashing stuff.

Birdfair and Rutland Water

Managed to limit myself to a single purchase at Birdfair, picked up the moth guide for 20 quid, a bargain. Good to see friends and grab a couple of tarts ticks in the shape of King and Packham. Cant deny their passion is inspiring. Jonny Kingdom lumbered past, I was suprised to even spot him since he was bedecked in camo. Camped, so was able to attend the friday night bat walk. Common and Soprano Pips, one Noctule and a possible Whiskered. Something I would like to do more of. What happened to the saturday night entertainment?! Had to resort to sitting at the campsite drinking CIDER and adding to 'The Campsite List' which by sunday included Yellowhammer and Osprey. The onsite security was pretty hot this year; always questioned upon leaving the campsite to enter the fair in the evening. "Where are you going?" "Why are you here?" "How big is your list?".
Went to the Lyndon reserve on sunday, Tree Sparrow from the centre and Osprey from the Shallow Water hide the highlights. Juv Yellow Wag, Egyptian Goose and a few Blackwits made up the numbers. Stunning day weatherwise in a very English part of the country that I rarely visit.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hickling Baires all!

10th August 2009

So, here we go. Thanks for reading!
After news broke that the Baird's Sandpiper had returned to Rush Hill Scrape the previous evening, I drove to Potter Heigham Church in the hope of a Norfolk and British tick. After a short work in the increasing heat, I was looking at a Bairds Sandpiper through my pre- Berlin Wall scope! Fantastic stuff, and my thanks goes to both the Dunlin and little Stint which allowed close comparison. Very long looking bird, more so than the White Rumped Sandpiper I had seen at Welney the pevious week. Feeding pattern was slow and methodical, this time in contrast to the feverish Whitey from Welney.
Decided to visit a few of my usual haunts, which today included Sea Palling and Happisburgh. The former was quiet save for a movement of Swallows, and the latter was not very forthcoming with birds. After an hours seawatch which produced 3 Redshank and 14 Sandwich terns, I gave up. Not without one moment of winged glory- a Wall Brown misbehaved and put out briefly on the ground. This Butterfly lark (not a new species) is still new to me, so excuse any mistakes.
A very good few weeks, considering the timing. PGP, WR Sand and now this. It is easy to switch off in the summer and wait for the Autumn. I hope these few weeks will serve as a reminder for me in the coming years.
Anyone going to Birdfair?