Tuesday, 23 October 2012

What a difference a day makes

A trip to the North coast on Saturday with friends was largely uneventful, but we did enjoy good views of some of the best Norfolk has to offer. Bearded Tits at Cley, Pink-feet regularly passing overhead and some Grey Partridge at Wareham. Cley aside, saw barely any birders at all; no doubt waiting for Monday morning!
Driving to work I just knew it would be buzzing out there. More than just compensation was a high-speed chase on the A11 involving a Sparrowhawk and a presumed Blue Tit; I do not know if the latter survived, but what a scene it was, the prey twisting and turning above the traffic to avoid being just another victim.
I managed to leave off work at the earliest opportunity today to see if the Thrush fall had impacted on my patch.
It was evident that Robins were in abundance,I counted 18 around the reserve. The hoped for Redwing and Fieldfare were present too, conservative estimates of 15+ for each in one berry-laden hot-spot.. Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagatil, Lesser Redpoll and Blackbird passed through, may unseen in the fog. Watching a Barn Owl hunt the marsh, a sound from the weekend had me just a bit excited- a long over-due patch tick was flying somewhere up there: Pink-footed Geese. Also of note was an almost continuous passage of Black-headed Gull, south-west. Water Rail were squealing, Cettis calling- magic!
To finish off, I assisted a farmer in returning a cow to a field. Can't beat the patch!
Some Autumnal and misty photos below.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Scant reward- but this is not over!

A couple of weekends following the same routine (Hemsby, Winterton South Dunes and the sea) have proved rather uneventful, as has been the case elsewhere in Norfolk. This weekend did feel more like Autumn though, particularly at Hemsby where many Redwing, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins flicked in and out of bushes, alluding to something rarer. A trawl of likely looking habitat turned up nothing scarce, let alone rare. Regardless of the destination, my track record of finding anything of note is getting worse rather than better! It turns out Waxham had Ring Ouzel, YBW and some commoner bits and pieces. Why not Hemsby?! Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat were in the oaks beneath the Hermanus restaurant at Winterton but that was as good as it got!
This has been the poorest October in terms of quality and quantity of migrants that I can remember. To further my case, I have actually been out looking for stuff. The birds aren't there, not for me. And if they are around elsewhere, they have been missed due to poor observer coverage. The negativity on BF (understandable) has no doubt led to a few sat at home, pager in hand, waiting for news rather than actually making it happen. That attitude in turn is a cause of suppression (why should we share our good birds with you if you can't be arsed to look for your own?) which again means the birds that are there, might as well not be. What to conclude from these musings?

  • It has been a poor October, so far. Weather systems and winds not coming from the right direction.
  • There probably are more birds out there than the news services suggest, but they are either being missed or suppressed/not reported. Not that I have an issue with this, just to make that clear.
  • As an aside, being based inland with a patch in The Broads, I am usually reliant on those that live and bird by the coast to find a beauty. 
Still, it ain't over yet. Plenty of time for Raddes, Dusky, Humes YB, Pallas's and a further fall of Thrushes,
Redstarts and Flycacthers. Next weekend I am going to brave the north coast with some friends visiting. See you at the next big one?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bats on the Patch, and the Pipe Dump.

Enjoyed an excellent Bat walk led by Matt from Strumpshaw RSPB. The small group had amazing views of Noctules over the Yare, what impressive beasties they are. It has been a long time since I actually watched this species, and at first I thought I had seen a Snipe, such is their size and manoeuvrability. We continued round the trail, Soprano and Common Pipistrelle feeding and seemingly chasing one another above our heads. Brown Long-eared in there too, and I am fairly sure I picked up a Natterers with the detector around an hour after dark. Plenty of mixed woodland around, which would suit this species. Desperate to know more- the thought of missing out on a parti-coloured or Barbastelle genuinely frightens me! Looking forward to becoming more involved on a local level next year.

On Sunday I went in search of migrants, a walk down to the much abused Pipe Dump at Waxham. Very few Passerines anywhere despite much bush bashing. Of note though were 100s of House Martins hawking over the dunes, along with smaller numbers of the larger Barn Swallow. Deciding after a couple of hours to give up on the bushes, I walked back alongside the sea and set about grilling the ocean. Winds not ideal, but stunning views of Gannets fishing in close. Red-throated Divers and Guillemots also loafing close to the shore line. I did pick up a couple of decent birds: a single Black Tern closely followed up by a Little Gull. I continued onto Happisburgh, Bacton and Walcott. I have decided Walcott could potentially offer the best sea watching, taking into account vistas, distance from sea, local food and drink on offer when on a break etc. More of the same at these east coast haunts.

Worthy of a mention, always, were my first Pink-footed Geese of the Autumn, over Waxham. Group of 23 followed by 50+, a sign of colder, bleaker times ahead.