Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Off to the Scillies

Well that time of the year has come again so I'm off to spend the week with my parents at a self catering apartment on St Agnes, at the Parsonage of all places! I know Scilly has had a lot of bad press lately and the amount of rare's being found seems to have dropped off but there is something about the place that I just love. Maybe its the fact that its great walking, great scenery and of course the chance of finding your own birds is always a high possibility, especially with less birders now present.
So tomorrow evening I leave from Norwich on the overnight train which gets me to Penzance at 07.30, the scillonian then follows and then the lunch time boat to Agnes, its a long way but hopefully it'l be worth it, looks like there are Westerlies on Friday and Saturday so there may be the odd yank around soon. I've never stayed on Agnes so am looking forward to being one of the fist to 'do' the island each this space!

Monday, 18 October 2010

First few grey geese in at Buckenham/Cantley

A disturbance study at Buckenham and Cantley this morning revealed a nice flock of 145 Pink footed Geese come in and feed up at Buckenham, numbers of Wigeon have also risen to 800+. The real highlight of the morning came when I got to Cantley, a family party of Whitefronts were feeding close to the path, typically no camera on me, but a nice year tick all the same.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

mixed morning in the Waxham area

It was a morning of mixed feelings, on the one hand I had nothing amazing to show for the visit, however I did have three interesting/annoying sightings and a Norfolk tick so its not all that bad.
I arrived before dawn so decided to wander towards the pipe dump and get to a high point in the dunes to do a bit of viz migging, I managed a/the hooded crow in the morning half light a new Norfolk bird for me. As it got light there were a few bits on the sea, the first annoyance/excitement came when a gannet was at mid to long range, it looked very much like an adult but had a neat black set of primaries and secondaries! I immediately changed lens and watched it at higher power, it definitely had pure black in the wing feathers but everything else was pure white in the wing, I could not make out the tail colouration which would have helped...the one that got away or just an oddly patterned 4th yr/subad gannet (never seen one so clean cut) I had one hand on my phone but then had second thoughts, I'd probably be ridiculed for such an outrageous claim, shame though... I do wonder!

Other bits on the sea included 27 Red throated Divers, 1 Black throated (not seen too many of them in Norfolk) a nice female Velvet Scoter close in as well as a lot of the usual stuff.

Then came the next bit of excitement a bunting which flew North with an interesting tick call, again not enough to say what it was but listening to various buntings on my mp3 player minutes after hearing the call would point to a possible Rustic bunting! double drat!

I then carried on a bit further and had a couple of blackcaps and chiffchaffs, 2 Lap bunts flew over in land as well as 4 Snow buntings seen to come in off and then North.

Then the final bit of torment came overhead loosely assosiated with a flock of siskins heading north, a fairly clean whistle followed by three notes slurred downward (a terrible description but it really stood out as different!) I'm not sure I saw the bird itself but it sounded like a finchlike call, not Siskin though.

There was a large movement of finches North throughout the morning including siskins, greenfinches and a few Redpoll. There seemed to be a lot of continental blackbirds around this morning the large ones with black bills but apart from that it was quiet.

All in all it was the day that could have been fantastic, I know most of my calls but the three I heard this morning were certainly not on my radar! Must revise more now

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Red Flanked Bluetail

I had to drop Ruth off at work at 6am so it was an early start to my day off, unfortunatley I had to pick her up again at 2 so had a limited time out.

I arrived at shangri La cottage in the pitch black, dawn soon came and I walked down to the pipe dump with John a BF regular. John left early, so I carried on toward the campsite, I managed 1 Ring Ouzel and 5 Lapland Buntings flew over. I decided to go back to the bluetail area and sat in the middle of a copse. All looked as if the bird had disappeared until it perched on the log I was sitting on about 2feet away!! The bird was still very present. I spent the next 2 hrs with the bird, great to have the chance to study the critter at such close range, binoculars were optional, 1 photo below almost has got my shoe in it (where the bt is looking up at the camera).
Next stop after thoroughly checking all the bushes on the way back was Winterton where there were more chiffys about and a Black Restart on top of the restaurant. The time camer where I had to head back to Norwich and at that moment the drizzle came!!! Wish I could have stayed in the field in the rain, I bet a lot of stuff came in.
Great day, great bird.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My 400th British Bird

After a slow start to a very promising weekend I finally got my 400th British bird, or should that be 400th bird seen in Britain!
Saturday- Winterton circuit with parents and girlfriend, slightly quieter than hoped for, but still managed 3 Redstarts 2 Ring Ouzels, 40+ Bramblings and a Sooty Shearwater, as well as a few more common migrants.

Sunday- WeBS count at Buckenham Marshes. I managed to miss the Red Necked Phalarope, was not there when I walked past but flew in for 10 mins while I was at Cantley. I did manage to find a rather smart Ring Ouzel in the bushes near the fleet though, which made up for it, not an easy Yare Valley bird. Also added Little stint to Yare list.
After a walk around Brundall area I got wind of the Isabelline Wheatear at Lowerstoft. I had to go really, I have wanted to see an issy for ages so couldn't resist the 30min drive. Cracking little bird, very showy in nice evening light. Very interesting to be able to admire the birds subtle differences to Northern, Plumage wise it probably was not as different to Northern as I would have thought it to be, however a close inspection made it look quite different the shape was quite distinctive, more stonechat like at times, as well as the washed out plumage pale fore super, pale underwings, stout bill and the classic black alula. All in all a very nice bird to put me on the 400 mark. I still have some gaping holes to fill but thats half the fun!

Amazing how straight it got in the classic pose, also note its quite porky belly, looks well fed!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

2 Jacks for starters

There seems to be lots about at the moment at Strumpshaw as would be expected for the time of year. Bearded tits are everywhere, large (20+) parties are all over the place and very easy to see. We had 5 Bittern sightings while working in front of Fen Hide as well as 2 Jack snipe in the cut areas in front of the hide, one of which nearly had a wellie imprint on it, it left it so late to flush, cracking little birds, always a nice surprise! As well as these there have been parties of siskin overhead as well as a couple of small flocks of Brambling (6 + 8).

A nice day albeit a hard day of burning reed in very smoky conditions, still it should look good when its done, I've already had a Bittern right out in the open on one of the sight lines.
Looking forward to the weekend, easterlies look set to continue for a few days!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Another day North

Another offer for a day of birding on the coast was taken up. We were mostly looking to catch up on a few year ticks but also trying to find some of our own birds, got to see a fair bit of the coast today and what a nice day it was too.

Started at Salthouse where we picked up the Barred Warbler fairly quickly, there was a fair arrival of pipits, buntings and larks while we were there. We soon picked up on a Lapland bunting flying over head, then another, eventually we saw 2 on the ground nicely with reed bunts, linnet and lots of mipits, also present in the area were 8+ wheatears and at least 2 whinchats.

Next stop warham greens- not a huge amount in the bushes from the cp to the whirlygig but a nice ringtail hen harrier gave a flyby to make it worthwhile.

A pager message told us that an Icterine warbler was at Holkham (my embarrassing bogey bird) so we set off to find some people looking intently at 'the bird' or a rather nicely marked Willow warbler (!) moving on with suspicions we found the majority of the area to be fairly dead too adding a few species to the day list such as Pied fly Siskin, Crossbill and other woodland birds. We eventually heard the unmistakable call of a Yellow browed warbler which showed very briefly, I managed to see its belly and then the front end of its head- not great views but the first of hopefully many this year. Another pager message said Iccy/melody at Holkham showing well, we got there 5 mins later to find, yep you guessed it a yellow looking willow warbler, reed warbler, blackcap and no Hippos. The bird, which was seen in the same area from 7.15 to middayish, but disappeared as soon as the other 'birders' arrived, I'll try not to be too cynical as we all make mistakes but everything that moved was greeted with 'there it is!' stayed for about 15 mins and decided that it all smelt too fishy. Needless to say the bird was not seen again all day, I hope someone photographed the thing, whatever it was!

Moving on to Burnham Overy got us Redstart, Merlin (cracking view) and Grey phalarope, lovely place for a walk, a lot of people seemed to agree as the place was packed.

Final stop was to Titchwell to see whats been going on, after a chat with a near balding warden we headed up the path. Adding a few easy species to the day list, reserve looks good at the moment and was packed with wildfowl, the brackish marsh was near unrecognisable and looks to be a pipit/bunting/lark magnet- expect good things to be seen here this autumn! I heard a couple of lap bunts and tried to tell the people either side of me that there were 2 lapland bunts flying past, they just looked blankly at me as if I was speaking foreign. Judging by their scopes and bins (swarovski) they must have been new to birding and never heard of a lapland bunting or thought that my rspb bins would never be able to see such things if they have not seen them... all the gear and no idea.. some people do irritate me. Also added to the day list little stint and a very late whimbrel flying in off and over the tidal pool.

A very good day in general, always eye opening to see how other 'birders' go about their business, i think i'll stick to the quiter bit of coastline next week and stay out East. Without trying too hard we managed a day list of 109 species, pretty good considering we missed a lot of very common birds, just shows what you can do in a day if you do really try.