Wednesday, 3 May 2017

White tailed eagle!!

A fantastic end to the day thanks to a phone call from Justin informing me of an immature white tailed eagle sitting on a post at Buckenham!
And there it stayed from 5.30 to 7.40 so plenty of people managed to connect with the bird from all over east Norfolk and beyond. It was amazing to see such a huge bird like that on the patch, it's certainly a species I have been hoping for since the recent sightings from all over the county in the past month.

Recently Buckenham has been great for waders (which it is managed for!) on Monday I had;
7 barwit including some fine brick coloured birds
11 blackwit
1 wood sand- only seen in flight while being pushed around by breeding lapwing
4 green sand- flying about with the wood sand
2 whimbrel
4 ringed plover
As well as stacks of lapwing, redshank, snipe and some very attractive ruff.
I was thinking that Buckenham would score a rarity soon, but hadn't anticipated it being an eagle!

Strumpshaw fen has been good recently too with plenty of summer migrants in, including 4-5 groppers, the first few common terns, lots of reed and sedge warblers, blackcaps and a garden warbler or two, 8+ pairs of marsh harrier, 2 booming bitterns, lots of kingfisher activity, 3 hobby and all other expects species, a bit of warmth would be nice next!

The water level at strumpshaw is a little lower than it should be at this time of the year, reflecting the dry conditions we have had recently. As most will appreciate we do not manage strumpshaw for breeding waders so don't manage the water levels specifically for waders, that would seem a little silly considering we have some of the most productive wader marshes in the area at Buckenham and cantley, which are thriving. The water levels at the fen are managed for reedbed species of bird, invertebrate and the lifeblood of the fen- the rare specialist fen vegetation, with a low water level at the fen, willow and alder scrub would soon colonise and we would no longer have the very special habitat that has been in existence for at least a thousand years.
Water levels, they are always too high or too low, but sometimes when you know what you are doing and how to manage a habitat in accordance to paid ecologists they can be just right!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

White billed diver

After seeing many amazing images of the white billed diver in Linconshire, I decided last Monday to go and have a look for myself.
Unfortunately when I got to within 5 miles of the location thick fog had descended, it made driving quite dangerous, especially not knowing the roads, but I eventualy got to Kirkstead Bridge.
On arrival I could not even see to the other side of the riverbank (-25m), all of a sudden I had the feeling that the chances of seeing the diver, which has been roaming around 5 miles of river, seemed quite unlikely. The viewing was ridiculous and I couldnt help thinking that I had wasted by time and petrol getting there, however I was told that the bird had been seen 20 mins ago so there was still a chance. All of a sudden there was a sighting about 20m away from me, impossible to see the bird in the fog at that range, so decision time do I move to where the bird was or try to sus out the direction of travel and move in that direction? I did the latter and staring into the blank Linconshire fog standing on my own the beast of a diver popped up right in front of! I called some others over and it continued to dive and come up fairly close to us. After a few minutes it started heading west, it could dive and cover around 15-20m between breaths, I (and around 12 others) followed it along the river around a mile and a half, it was a case of staying with it or losing it in the thick fog, I had my fill and returned happy with absolutely stonking views of this world tick for me, what a bird!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Another thrush, this time blue!

Another offer of a space that was hard to refuse...

A blue rock thrush in Gloucestershire. Another pleasant twitch with the bird showing well on the roofs of a cul de sac for the majority of the time we were there, only 30-50 birders present scattered across a few streets, all well behaved, the locals were pleasant and interested. The cafe was nice for an all day breakfast too.

So is the bird actually wild??

Location- slightly odd, but eastern black redstart not far away recently and dusky thrush not too far north either. The roof tops are not the sort of habitat you would expect to see a rock thrush on, but the roofs were covered with moss and quite rock like, the brickwork of the buildings were natural rather than red bricks. Clutching at straws maybe, but it wasn't a million miles from the correct cliff like mountainous habitat...

Behaviour- while we were there the bird was flying from rooftop to rooftop looking for food, it stuck to the rooftops apart from a brief flight to a conifer. At one point it saw a fly and did a rather good impression of a flycatcher, it also chased a few flies successfully, so was able to feed itself without any problems. It was not particularly scared of us, but at the same time it didn't come and beg for food, it kept its distance on the tops in its 'rocky habitat'.

Plumage/appearance- Essentially a long billed round headed blue 'blackbird'. Left wing drooping was not great. Apart from that the plumage looked good, white crescents and long bill are suggestive of eastern origin which is good considering the number of eastern birds this autumn. I couldn't see any abraided feathers or signs of it being a cage bird, I didn't get to inspect its feet.

I must admit I went there slightly sceptical and returned with the impression that this could well be a wild bird, behaviourally it was good, plumage good, location/habitat maybe not quite so much, but possibly not as bad as it sounds, it will be interesting to hear the thoughts of the bbrc.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Up long before dawn to see a dusky!

I had a very pleasant day twitching the Dusky Thrush in Beeley today. The offer of a seat in a car was too great to resist so four of us got up at an ungodly hour (at this time of the year!) and were in the Peak District watching a Dusky Thrush by 8am!
We saw the bird as soon as we arrived which was lucky as it then went missing for an hour and a half, in which time we searched the small town of all likely spots, there were hundreds of redwings about, but we failed to re find the bird. On returning to the adventure playground where the thrush was best viewed from, a shout came from the neighbouring field, the bird showed well in the open for around five minutes, but was a little distant. It then flew straight towards and past us showing us its subtle differences in flight shape (longer tailed and slightly stockier than redwing). It flew into the orchid where it gave the best views of the day, there was a little bit of a scrum, but everyone got to see the bird feeding on the fallen apples at fairly close range, the light was pretty awful and many heads and bamboo canes got in the way regularly, but I managed a few poor grainy out of focus shots for the record. After this we walked back to the car park, seeing a dipper in the river on the way back for an extra bonus bird.

The twitch itself was one of the more bizarre- we arrived to signs directing us to the 'birders carpark' where we duly parked, a specially put on shuttle bus then took the birders from the car park 1km down the road to where the bird was showing, where we followed arrows labelled 'bird'! On passing the hot drinks stand, toilets and sausage/bacon bap stand we found the playground. The first proper amusement came when the birders had to cross a wooden see-saw bridge to get to the viewing platform/wall a scene which certainly put a smile on my face, even with a 4am start.

Great bird, great twitch and money raised for a good cause, my fourth UK tick of the year (BOU 411)