Saturday, 30 October 2010

Border-Hopping

As is the norm for half-term, I spent some of the time back home in Suffolk visiting parents and getting the car nursed for the winter. Mother had not yet caught up with the King Eider that has been lingering off Dunwich, and frankly I was keen for better views than I had managed earlier in the year at West Runton.
From Dunwich beach, I picked up the bird distantly loafing near the sluice, so we walked south for better views. The scrape had a few duck on it, along with 5 Bewick Swans, which clearly suggests we are in for a terrible winter. By now, the Eider could be considered to be lingering off Sizewell, so the hoped for amazing views were not really obtained. Better than nothing, that's King Eider in 2 counties this year!
We searched for the reported Rough Legged Buzzard pair near Reydon, but only managed a glimpse of a distant Buzzard sp. Westleton Heath was short of a Shrike, but we enjoyed watching a Red Deer stag and his harem from the deer watch point.
Lackford Lakes is a cracking little reserve, so on the friday took a non-birding friend for a trundle. Large numbers of Siskin across the reserve, plus Tree Sparrow and Lesser Redpoll in scrub around the carpark. The first Goldeneye had returned, along with the expected Wigeon, Gadwall and Shovelor, all showing off nicely. My friend was suitably inspired to set up a new feeding station in his garden. That's the ticket, I thought.
Spent this morning exploring Eccles, Waxham and Sea Palling. Shit all birds, but some super new habo to delve into. Managed little, and oddly the best was at sea- a Red Throated Diver, 6 Common Scoter and a few Gannet seen off Waxham.
The missus is really nailing this birding lark; a text from her whilst I was on route alerted me to the presence of 8 Waxwing not far from our place. I picked her up on the way through and sure enough, just round the corner from the Whalebone pub, were 5 of the 8 Waxwing looking superb at the top of a tree. Seaduck, Siskin, Swans and Waxwing....maybe Autumn is over, but I could easily adapt to this winter medley.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wet and Windy

An Autumnal feel to the day. The warm coat was dug out of the cupboard under the stairs, and the rain stopped for long enough to allow a blustery walk round Surlingham Church Marsh. The main action was on the river today, starting with a Great Crested Grebe. This adult moulting into winter plumage had two, then one young back in late summer; hopefully at least one fledged successfully. A noisy Kingfisher was glimpsed, finally on the patch list. Wildfowl numbers were at an all time low, and the only birds seen around the lagoon were 3 Reed Bunting and a single Grey Heron. Wondering where all the ducks were, a flock of 15 Wigeon called overhead and refused to settle, clearly unimpressed with the lack of grazing potential. (We could do with some more scrub removal though, the Cattle are having to work over-time). This was another new bird for the patch, so certainly not an afternoon wasted.
The 2009 Norfolk Bird Report has just been published, hoping to pick up a copy from John Lewis.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Cottages, cemeteries and marshes.

Waxham was quiet around Shangri La, although I left feeling a little guilty that I had not been able to put the time in today. Various stops to look for Cranes for my visiting family drew a blank.
Great Yarmouth cemetery proved to be a good move, for after much searching we latched onto a tit flock which comprised a beautiful Yellow Browed Warbler and a brief Firecrest. Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Redwing and Song Thrush made for a very rewarding couple of hours.
Buckenham Marshes was windswept, perhaps leading to the now resident Peregrine positioning herself on the ground sheilded by the cattle. 3 Ruff were here also.
Surlingham seemed lively, and it was no suprise when I located 3 Brambling amongst some Thrushes feeding on berries. Another patch tick! Good to see they are now filtering inland, never tire of seeing them. The finale was a bit special however, a female Hen Harrier over the reeds until dusk. My run of good birds here continues, this the best of the lot. My thoughts are now turning to the prospect of a winter roost here. Still on a real high, this is what patch watching is all about!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Tough luck out east ends with a flourish

An enjoyable if tough couple of days birding around Waxham and Happisburgh. Highlights included 3 Redstart at Happisburgh, large numbers of Brambling, Siskin, Song Thrush, Redwing, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, my earliest Fieldfare ever, Hen Harrier at Waxham and finally a Hooded Crow in a ploughed field, also Waxham.
It was amazing to be out in fall conditions, and the opportuntity to observe Siskin, Brambling and Chaffinch so close was a real treat. A little gutted not to have turned up a rare Pipit or Warbler, but nonetheless a memorable couple of days in the field. Every bush flicked or ticked, the horizon often covered in Pink Footed and Brent Geese.
To finish with the Hoodie was the highlight. I pulled up at the road-side pull in, just south of Shangri La. I could see a few Crows, Lapwing and Goldies out on the ploughed field, so decided to have a scan before walking to the beach. Another birder was present, who said he thought he might have seen a Hooded Crow, but his optics weren't quite up to the job. I had a scan, and there it was, in East Norfolk! A combination of channels in the mud, discussion with the gentleman and fumbling for my phone meant the bird was lost to view, but no doubt it is still knocking about somewhere. Couldn't make out any signs of hybridization, and hopefully it can be refound.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Surlingham this evening 07/10/10

The light was fading as I observed my latest patch tick- a Little Owl, perched on a fence post out on the grazing land. A satisfying find; the habitat looked spot on for this species, and I hope now that a breeding pair will become vocal in the Spring. It also struck me that it had been some time since I had good views of a Little Owl. No doubt this species goes under-recorded, since many pairs breed on private parkland or agricultural land. Great to have this species at Surlingham. Earlier in the evening, I had been watching 2 Bearded Tits from the hide (heard only before today) along with a glimpse of a Reed Bunting. Quite a contrast to the owl, which says a lot for the varied habitat in a relatively small area. The reserve is slowly revealing itself, and with evidence of further flooding, who knows what could be next.....

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Out of tune at Holkham forces local action.

OK, so this has moreorless been done to death on Birdforum, but it would seem there was something of a mishap regarding Hippo id at Holkham on Saturday. It would seem that an Icterine Warbler was indeed seen early doors, and this individual did not hang around. However, a report of a Melodious Warbler bought out the crowds, and understandably so. Hoping to see a county mega, I ditched the trip to the east coast (mistake) and joined the throngs. On arrival, most were standing around in hope, and word on the track was that the reported Melodious was optimistic at best. Not one to linger, I spent a good hour round the cross-tracks hoping for the YBW that was reported earlier that morning. I settled for a good haul of common migrants in the bushes including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Bullfinch, lots of Goldcrest and c10 Siskin.
Good to see Connor, James and Gary at the 'ghost' twitch, and the north coast is a premier birding venue, but the crowds of people at the pine woods is enough to put me off for a while....and I was one of them! If you follow the news, there always that chance you will get stung. Not that I will learn anything from this.
Spent this afternoon exploring habitat round Surlingham. Surlingham Marsh at Coldham Hall is a nice spot, but all I managed in the wind was a Kestrel. The patch itself (Surlingham CHURCH Marsh, confusing isn't it?) was quiet, no doubt due to the Sunday gun club. A few Teal and Gadwall were on the lagoon, so clearly the rifle fire does not bother all of the wildfowl. A large Tit flock were near the hide, and out of sight I could hear what I believe was some kind of Reed Warbler sub song, an odd one that. Wellies absolutely essential here; track muddy most of the way round and signs that the site is beginning to flood. A drive round Claxton and Langley offered fantastic views over the marshes, but the wind seemed to be putting pay to raptor spotting.