Sunday, 25 January 2015

Family time

A very nice weekend with my parents saw a few decent birds. Saturday we had a nice, but quiet walk around the fen. This was followed by a nice redhead Smew at Ormsbury Little Broad along with a few tuftys, 12 Goldeneye and a few other common species. In the evening we had a walk at Buckenham and encorporated the rook roost and a lovely sunset.

Today dad and I did a wildfowl count at Buckenham and Cantley, the results are as follows;

White-front- 218
Taiga Bean- 2
Wigeon-520 (C) + 1870 (B)
Lapwing- 311(C) + 321(B)
Bewicks Swan (opposite Buckenham Mill) a single with 3 Mutes

It was surprising to see the 2 Taigas, its unusual to see such a small number, it was also unusual to see them associating so closely with the Pinks, it appeared to be adult and young(?) one certain adult, the other bird had a far more washed out orange bill and plumage. A few ropey shots attatched.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Rough Leg, bright morning!

I decided to have a look at the Rough Legged Buzzard that has been hanging around Halvergate bridge this morning. turned out to be a good plan. I had the bird to myself for about an hour. At first it was sitting ona post straight into the strong sunlight, it looked good on shape more than anything! it then started hunting and from my car vantage point it came pretty close. Absolutely stunning scope and binocular views, ...if only I had a DSLR! I'd have got some pretty good shots with a better camera, but I was very happy to watch such an awsome bird at close quarters and am pleased with some of the shots.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

More flooding at Strumpy

The scene below greeted me this morning. After receiving a flood warning from the environment agency last night I was expecting some flooding, as you can see below the depth guage was almost all underwater. Path closingly high, so I set about putting the signs up and opening up both sluices. Below are just a few shots showing a) why the paths do have to be closed at times and b) shows nicely the answer to so many peoples questions- Why are the paths so muddy in winter?!

riverbank just beyond sandy wall

riverbank just before sluice- water was a foot and a half deep here in places!

Path to fen hide, again quite deep in places

The view from tinkers lane stile, very deep considering its the main path

The lackford run...path!

Otter enjoying lots of water

sluice area and accidental broad connected to the river
Even the chinese water deer thought there was too much water!
Incidentally this is the high bank through the middle of the fen and still is covered in water
 Hopefully the water will drop over the next 48hrs or so, at present the Fen Hide and riverbank from the top of sandy wall around to Tinkers Lane via Tower Hide is all closed as it is underwater.
The paths will be opened as soon as they can be..... on the other hand Buckenham is good for birds at the moment so posibly a better bet for the next few days than Strumpy!

The River Yare is the lifeblood of the fen, keeping it topped up with nice fresh water, but at times it can cause chaos flooding saltwater into a fresh water ecosystem. This is not a great time for the saline incursion as we usually hope to start getting water levels and quality to their spring level to encourage the breeding birds to have faith in the stable water levels. However due to this flooding the level will go up and down over the next month as we bring in fresh water from the Lackford Run and flush the salt through the fen and out along the riverbank, its a tried and tested method but relies on the tides and rainfall being kind to us.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

False Widow spider?

 I know they are not particularly rare but I have never seen one before, I believe this could be a false widow, there were at least 8 of this species in the modular sign at Strumpshaw today. Have I identified them correctly? I dont do spiders!

 Also behind the pannels were a huge number of harlequin ladybirds, incredible how many colours and patterns this single species come in!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Highlights of 2014

Well thats another year gone, 2014 was a particularly good one for me too, both on and off the patch.

Mid Yare Valley bird highlights of 2014 included some fairly decent rares as well as uncommon species. My total for the year was 160, exactly the same as last year funilly enough, although I achieved 209 patchwork challenge points compared to 203 in 2013. I had 8 reserve ticks, all but two of them self found.

Reserve Ticks;

Iceland Gull- As far as I can tell this is the first record of Iceland Gull for the Mid Yare Valley, it was a subadult at Cantley, which I stumbled upon on 28 Feb. This was not only a reserve tick, but also a Norfolk tick.

Brent Goose- Just a few days after the aforementioned gull I was walking the riverbank at Cantley when I saw two dark medium sized birds flying straight towards me, to my amazement they were 2 Brents! Even more odd was that I found yet another one at Cantley this autumn hapilly feeding with Canada geese!

Little Gull- this was an overdue reserve addition for me, this individual hung about with the breeding Black Headed Gulls for early summer, I even saw it next to whitlingham so was quite far ranging.

Whiskered Tern- graced Rockland for one afternoon only, a cracker, but tricky to photograph,  I wont say too much as I know it still hurts some!

Bar Tailed Godwit- finally caught up with this species, after years of twitching other peoples 'bar tails' only to find black tailed godwits in their place, I finally connected with a couple of my own this year

Arctic Tern- A species where you have to be in the right place on the right day in the Yare Valley, luckily I was. I had a single bird fly down river, at last!

Blue Billed Duck - quite rare these days, so was pleased to see this on the patch (my only twitched addition)

Penduline Tit- my find of the year! Unfortunately I did not manage to see the birds but I heard their distinctive calls on four different days. I first heard the/a bird/s on 11 Oct and they were not seen again until mid November!

Ring Necked Parakeet- no idea wether this should make it onto the list, but one flew over the strumpshaw office calling on 17 Oct, a Norfolk tick too....dodgy I know!!

So they were the new species but other patch highlights included; Smew, Merlin, Common Redpoll, Ring Ouzel, multiple Cranes, Long Eared Owl, Spotted Crake, Black Tern, Knot, Spotted Redshank, Pec Sandpiper, Honey Buzzard, Curlew Sandpiper, Scaup and Goldeneye, as well as other scarce regulars such as many Jack Snipe, Water Pipits and more frequent waders.

So what did I miss? Not too muched missed (thanks to a late Whooper Swan movement!) but its the first year I have failed to see Short Eared Owl, Crossbill and Waxwing on the reserve, Goosander and Turnstone are not easy but are also missing from 2014. These are the most obvious species missing, everything else is pretty rare.

So all in all another great year for birds in the Yare. Hopefuly I can beat 160 this year, but continue to add species to the reserve list and obviously hope to get some decent finds in there too, another Marsh and Savis warbler duo find would do very nicely! I'm feeling as if it is time I caught up with Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Red Footed Falcon and perhaps something like a migrating Goshawk, although my top two species to see on the reserve (which have long gone) are Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Willow Tit, they would do very nicely!

Away from the patch I did a bit of successful twitching this year!

Additions to my UK list included

Black Headed Bunting
Short Toed Eagle
Spectacled Warbler
Masked Shrike
Little Crake
Steppe (southern) Grey Shrike

A very good year considering my last tick before this year was the Pacific Swift in Suffolk in June 2013 and that was my only addition of 2013.
So I end the year on 402 (BOU) or 416 (UK400)

This year I hope to add afew more obviously, at present the only holiday I have booked is a trip with Mr Eele to Fetlar for two weeks in September/October, where I hope to add a few shetland specialities to my UK list, and of course self found list!
Needless to say I will also continue my quest for an Icterine Warbler, my holiday dates in autumn 2014 were tailored to find/see this species but there were not many at all seen, despite good conditions for prolonged periods. Ah well I'll see one eventually!