Friday, 28 October 2011

Another nice day out East

Looking at the winds late last week I decided that today could be good and duly booked a day off.
I headed out to Horsey Gap first of all to catch up with the Daurian Shrike which has been present all week, this was a new Norfolk bird for me and the second Issy shrike I have seen, the last being in 2002 on the Scilly's. This one was far more showy than that one and even when I tried to slip by and leave the bird it flew in for a closer look, great bird!
The bushes held very little, far less than hoped but undeterred I headed on to waxham to see what was doing there. Again Shangri La cottage bushes were relatively quiet save for a single Goldcrest and a slight rarity in the form of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (in off?). While checking the bushes a typical Tickty tick tick chuu call was heard coming from inland, the Lapland Bunting was then located flying straight towards me then headed North along the dunes.
With the bushes lacking in passerines, although it felt as if something could fly in at any time, I had a look at the sea. I was watching for about 45 mins and clocked up an impressive 150-200 Little Gulls, a few Kittiwakes, 8 Red Throated Divers, a few Gannets and Guillemots, no hoped for Little Auks.
A very nice day to be out and about, glad to get the Shrike and Little Gull was a year tick too, hopefully tomorrow will produce a rarity, now where to find it?!

 I managed a couple of shots of a Cetti's Warbler at Strumpshaw the other day, I must admit they looked far better on the screen on the camera, but I thought I'd whack them on here anyway.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Patch ticks and work at the same time!

Thursday was obviously a great day for migration, with Great Grey Shrikes present on the coast and 50 Short Eared Owls coming in/off at Titchwell there was definately something about to be found. But I was at work, at this time of the year Strumpshaw can feel as far away from the coast as the midlands, oh to be working by the sea again!
It was a Thursday so we have our weekly work party, burning reeds in front of the Fen Hide (view looks great now by the way). As we headed out we encountered a large flock of Bearded Tits, great news considering their decimation this winter. The BR's hung around all morning pinging in the reeds.
The clear sky meant that we were getting a small but steady stream of fieldfare, redwing, redpoll, brambling, siskin and meadow pipits but it was shortly after lunch when Strumpy got on the scarce migration band wagon. I looked at my pager to reveal the fact that there was a large SEO movement along the coast, telling Ron about this he seemed suitably impressed, 3 minutes later a shout went up, SEO flying along the river. So it was a bird flying high obviously moving through to the East following the river, great, patch tick 1.
About an hour after that excitement we had stopped for a drink when I noticed a bird on one of the dead tree perches not too far from Fen Hide, from the sounds of it the reedbed birds were not too keen on its presence. I said to Ron, who had bins on him 'Is that a small Sparrowhawk, or is it a great grey shrike' half jokingly of course, he looked, turned to me and his face was a picture, he simply said 'yes, its a ggs!' A super bird for the reserve, I have not yet checked the records but it is possibly the first for the reserve since the 80's!
Nice to know that on that Thursday the main species along the coast of interest were SEO's and GGS's and we had both at Strumpy. Rough Legged Buzzard is the next target, its obviously been a good vole/lemming year so I would not be surprised if we get loads of geese, RLB, and all the other assosiated species, could be a good winter!

A selection of distant pics of the shrike, a lot of these were taken at 30x magnification hand held so click on them to blow them up and laugh, still, it would help pass it through the BBRC had it of been an Isabeline Shrike.

Can anyone id this micro??

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Early morning rewards at Holkham

The weekend started with a slight disappointment of the Rufous Tailed Robin doing a bunk on Friday night, although had it of been there I would have been tense all day due to being stuck at work until 5.

I managed to get out this morning and enjoy some good ole Norfolk autumn birding. I arrived at Lady Annes Drive  at 7.30, it felt more like 5.30 due to the chill in the air and the fact that no one was about.
I had a very enjoyable mornings birding with a good overhead movement as well as a good number of crests in the bushes. A couple of crests sounded Fiery but alas I could not locate them in the high pines, there were a few blackcaps and Chiffys around, more so than I had earlier in the week at Waxham.
I made my way towards the 'tower' hide and stopped for a while watching a tit flock move through, the tsee tseeing was gratefully interrupted by a Yellow Browed Warbler, quite a way off but enough to prick the ears up. It eventually came closer and showed fairly well although into the photos. I'm glad to finally see one of these beauties this autumn, I was begining to wonder if I would. While the warbler was calling my ears suddenly latched onto another call, this time obviously a flyover. I called it as Yellow wagtail at first, looked up to see a large pipit, in the bright sunshine it even looked quite yellow but the call and flight pattern firmly idenified it as a Richards Pipit, great stuff! Then about a minute after that a very pale chiffchaff with a wing bar appeared, a clear contender for Tristis, but the thing wouldn't call so I'll let it go...five minutes of fantastic birding, made the early start worthwhile!

Blackbird- lots in off early on
Skylark- light passage West 
Redpoll- 36
Crossbill- 57
Brambling- 25+
Siskin- 110+
Chaffinch- 300+
Goldcrest- 40+
Chiffchaff- 16
Y-B-Warbler- 1, a hint of a second individual further West, but was distant and only heard once.
RICHARDS PIPIT-1 over West at 09.20

Now for the National Hen Harrier roost count this evening, hopefully something will turn up to make it interesting, looks like it'l be a nice clear evening.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Links road, Lowestoft

With an Autumn of Westerlys what better place to go to try and get some eastern migrants than the most easterly place in the UK- Lowestoft. I thought I'd check out the Woodchat Shrike, look at the bushes and do a bit of seawatching. I managed to do all three, the Shrike showed exceptionally well, despite the deluge of rain that was falling all morning. This is only the second WcS I have seen in the UK, the other being a fine adult male at Holme a few years back. This bird didnt seem to mind people too much at all, but it had a particular dislike to horses and white dogs though!

Seawatching was fairly productive considering the westerly blow, totals for a on off watch for a cumulative total of 2 hrs below;
5 Arctic Skua
2 Pom Skua
3 Great Skua
constant stream of Gannets
6 RB Merganser
Lots of Brents
3 Commic Tern
1 Eider
30 Wigeon

In off totals were slightly more interesting;
4 Short Eared Owls
1 Merlin
1 Sparrowhawk
2 Woodpigeon
15 skylark
40+ Meadow pipit
1 Grey Heron
2 Brambling
18 Chaffinch
6 Starlings.

Not fantastic totals, but quite interesting all the same, an obvious movement across the North sea even with a westerly. The Yellow Browed Warbler did not show for me, I did check the bushes North and South of the car park to flycatcher alley, but little was doing. The Yellow Legged gull managed to sneak into the picture below, unfortunately I missed a photo of it posing nicely on the beach due to a loaf of bread further down the beach.

Left untreated a forest forms in a matter of years!!! Japanese Knotweed- nasty plant!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Jammy Git!

Having the day off today I was slightly torn between going birding on the North coast (wind looked good) or go to Boyton.

5.30am and Boyton was on the menu for the morning, I managed to get there for about 7.30, just in time to catch the first good rays of sun striking the bird.
Needless to say it was crane like and a new British  bird for me, I didnt go last Sunday because it was hot, the roads were busy and for some unknown reason Sandhill Crane didn't quite 'do it' for me. As I say quite odd but if it had been an equivalent  mega passerine I'd have been there in a shot, its possibly got something to do with the fact that I see cranes quite frequently and 'ours' are better looking, I dont know!
Still it seems as though I managed to jam into seeing it on its last morning at Boyton? The bird flew around at 10.30 and flew off South. How often do good birds turn up on a Sunday and leave the following Friday, must be very annoying for those who 'need' birds.

After having my fill of the crane, staying for about 2 hrs, I headed to Minsmere as I have not been since Feb. Turns out it was a bit of a waste of time, very little there on the scrapes apart from the usual common species and the woodland and lagoon loops were not passable as a circuit, I should have checked the website. The trails are closed due to urgent sea defence work, so all for a good cause . There was a small flock of Godwits, Dunlin, 6 Avocets and small duck numbers but apart from that the lagoons were pretty empty (save for dodgy geese). Most of the visitors were enjoying all the bird identification challenges, the Red breasted geese and Barnacles made most peoples day despite being as plastic as the Roller in Cambs! I do love overhearing identifications in the hides, always brings a smile to my face, we all start somewhere.
I walked from the sluice to the power station and managed to see 3 chiffchaffs, 2 goldcrests and one long tailed tit who had lost its friends, positive mental attitude was hard to keep up when looking at very little. There were a few Wheatears on the beach, all juvs, which livened up the walk a little and it reached a crescendo when I saw 2 Bonxies .

So as days go it was very good in as much as I got a mega Nearctic crane, possibly on its last day of showing, however the lack of drift migrants in East Anglia is begining to get annoying, surely I wont an autumn without seeing a Yellow Browed Warbler!

Some poor pics of the crane below, dont enlarge them, it was about 600m away, good through the scope not the lens....excuses..

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Autumn moths

With the birds being quiet at the moment due to the pleasant(*?) hot weather and Westerly air flow at least the warm nights have brought a few moths into the trap. *The reason I question the word pleasant is because I have started the winter work programme at Strumpshaw Fen, meaning we have been in the fen burning and chainsawing in the heat = unpleasant and very hot!
Over the past 3 nights I have recorded a total of 36 species, this is particularly good for late Sept/early Oct, certainly compared to past years records. Although the temperatures have been far warmer than average, each morning this week there has been a heavy fog in the valley which has meant that the early am temps were as low as 7 degrees while Norwich was basking in 13 degrees at 7am, still a fair few moths have been flying about. This morning there were even a few migrants to liven up the list, they were the most common, expected species but migrants all the same. Six Merveille du jour added a splash of green to the traps, while the 8 Hornets and 14 wasps added a certain splash of yellow, luckily they were not hungry and left the majority of moths in tact. As always a few photos showing some of the catch.

Merv du jour

L-Brown Spot Pinion, R-Beaded Chestnut

Silver Y

Brindled Green

Dark Sward Grass

Weekend in Wales

Last weekend Ruth and I ventured up to Snowdonia to see Ruth's sister for her birthday. The majority of the weekend was pretty unremarkable as far as sightings go, with pretty standard fare being seen each day, including Redpolls, crossbills siskins, ravens etc. The place we stay in is high in the mountains overlooking Mt Snowdon, a nice change from the broads scenery. I took my moth trap (of course) and had a few new species, it was very chilly each night and quite windy so the overnight hauls were far from impressive but there was just about enough to warrent taking the trap. Next year my bro/sis-in-law move to the Isle of Skye so I look forward to another visit, hopefully around this time of the year.
The new moths for me included;
Autumnal Rustic, Neglected Rustic, Pine Carpet (oddly I have not got this in my records yet?)
The last 2 pictures show a species which should be very easy to id due to the colouration and pattern but I cant clinch it, it does resemble a Sallow of some kind but not in a form that is noted in my books. Help please!!?? EDIT: I have been informed that the moth is a Flounced Chestnut.