Sunday, 7 February 2016

Suffolk / Norfolk tick success

I picked Jim up at 6am and headed up the A12 into Suffolk for first light leaving the old man keeping his sofa warm. We arrived at North Warren and started scanning from the raised ditch area. Plenty of Barnacle, White-fronted and Greylag Geese were found in the distance before we eventually found a couple of Bean Geese in with the crowd. A fox patrolled the waters edge and had an interesting interaction with a passing Marsh Harrier. Lot's of Wigeon, Snipe and Lapwing here along with Skylark. Four Spoonbill were reported from the south end of the marsh but we left without seeing them.

Our next stop was in order to connect with Dartford Warbler and they showed really well for us in a very brief stop. A Great-spotted Woodpecker gave me another year tick as we drove through Lesiton.

Dartford Warbler
We moved on to Blythburgh and joined a few other birders on the causeway bridge. We scanned the distant Teal and found the Green-winged bird among them clearly showing it's nasal ring. Lot's of Dunlin, Redshank, Knot and Oystercatcher were present here and gave a good display and they searched for suitable feeding areas. As we continued to move up the A12 we passed through Lowestoft and couldn't resist a quick stop to watch the Purple Sandpipers at Ness Point (The most Easterly point of the UK). Three birds performed for us and a further four flew by. Red-throated Diver were on the move off shore.
Back on the road we made our next stop at Winterton where a longer than expected walk north from the car park eventually rewarded us with a group of thirty or so Snow Bunting and a couple of Sanderling. Skylarks sang and Red-throated Diver continued to be seen moving south.

Snow Buntings at Winterton
We jumped back in the car and headed towards the north Norfolk coast stopping first at Wells where the Shag was quickly added to the year list. At Holkham Hall we walked out to the lake and after walking from the north to the south and back again we found two Scaup and a Fudge duck for our trouble. A hybrid "fudged" duck is also present along with large numbers of Tufted, Wigeon and Shoveler. Egyptian and Greylag geese are present and a single Pintail was seen. The park has lot's of Redwing feeding under the trees and the usual deers are always a welcome sight.


Barn Owl
A Barn Owl delayed our route from Holkham to Brancaster but after a few shots rain stopped play and the Owl took flight to head back to it's barn. At Brancaster we were put on the Red-necked Grebe by the locals and had brief views of the waders on display namely Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercathcher, Barwit, Turnstone and Ringed Plover before making our exit in an attempt to find our way to Roydon for another shot at the Pallid Harrier. This bird has proved problematic to us with six trips to Flitcham all resulting in zero sightings. With news that it is now being seen at roost on Roydon Common we headed there arriving at around 3.45pm to find the car park bursting and as we walked out onto the heath fifty or so birders lined the footpath ahead of us. We joined them to find the Pallid Harrier hunting in the distance giving us a tenth year tick for the day. The Pallid Harrier was lost to view before appearing right over our heads and then hunting below us with a couple of ringtails. To cap the day off the bird then decided to sit on a post for us giving fantastic scope views and one of those Chris Packham thigh rubbing moments.

Pallid Harrier

A text to the sofa hugging one just saying BOOM! finished a great days birding East Anglia.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

No Stone unturned

A visit to Dungeness today in search of the Glaucous Gull proved a challenging day.
Rain and grey skies combined to make the trip difficult coupled with a diesel drama and then a flat battery the odds of success were not good. We searched the shingle picking out a small group of Turnstone to give the camera a short workout before adding a year tick with Razorbill amongst the many birds on the sea. At the power station we found another year tick when a Black Redstart popped up onto the fence before we returned to search again for the Glauc,

Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull "By the fishing boats" at Dungeness
Despite sitting it out at the roost until the last of the light we only managed to pull the Caspian Gull from the crowd and with no stone unturned we failed to find the large white winger we'd gone in search of today.

Year list at the end of January is 149

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

More of the Cattle Egret at Iken

Cattle Egret
Enjoying lunch 
Cattle Egret at Iken in Suffolk
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret Iken Suffolk
Cattle Egret
Cow Egret

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Cattle Egret at Iken

Cattle Egret at Iken
We set off this morning in the general direction of Suffolk so M25/A12 and with the journey taking less time than planned I took the Jims to Christchurch Park Ipswich to kill some time. We enjoyed good views of a Tawny Owl sitting in an old Oak in the half light of a grey morning before taking in decent views of four Goosander and a few Mandarin on the park pools. I'd like to return here with the camera on a brighter day.

Tawny Owl
Next stop was Alton Water where we quickly located two Black-necked Grebe and went off to search for Red-necked Grebe. Sadly the Red-neck gave us the slip but we did find another Black-necked and a Great Northern Diver. The waters also held large numbers of Great-crested Grebe but little else of note.

Black-necked Grebe
We moved on driving another 25miles to Iken in search of Cattle Egret where after a short scan of the fields around Sandy Lane we eventually found the target in the farm itself feeding well amongst the cattle. We enjoyed watching it feed for a while from the entrance track to the farm until it was flushed as the farmer walked by. As we drove out we found the bird again on a small pool at the end of Sandy Lane and it would have been rude not to grab another couple of images with the water adding to the picture.

Cattle and Egret
Cattle Egret
Our last stop was at North Warren and from the new raised screen we found the four Spoonbill for another year tick.

Spoonbill at North Warren

Year list is now 147

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bittern at Fishers Green

After work today I headed around the north circular and up the A41 with the Scaup at Startop End my target bird. As I travelled up the A41 a Red Kite flew over to give me a year tick before arriving at the reservoir to bag the target bird which I did with ease. A Grey Wagtail entertained and the water was full of Tufted and Pochard along with a few Cormorant and Black-headed Gull. A single Lesser Black-backed was present and good numbers of Great Crested Grebe.

I moved on to Wilstone and found a couple of Goldeneye keeping the Shoveler company here but little else of note save another Red Kite.

At College Lake a Red-crested Pochard added another year tick before I left to take up vigil in the Bittern Hide at Fishers Green where a Cetti's Warbler, Water Rail and a couple of Muntjac kept me amused whilst I waited for the Bittern to show which it duly did. Back at the car and a Blackcap made an appearance giving me tick 142 of 2016.

Bittern at Lea Valley
Cettis Warbler
Goldeneye at Wilstone

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Golden Pheasant at Wolferton FINALLY!

We headed up to Norfolk again this morning in a miserable attempt to get the old man a life tick on the Pallid Harrier at Flitcham. This was our sixth visit and we've given around twenty hours to this bird (or should I say this lack of bird). Needless to say despite arriving at first light this was to be another day when the bird chose not to show. We witnessed some good birds whilst waiting and these included Merlin, Buzzard, Barn Owl, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Brambling and Tree Sparrow. Feeling the chill we diverted from the vigil to try our luck with the Wolferton Triangle and this time got lucky when the Golden Pheasant came out to play. The light was poor in the narrow lane but I managed to catch the moment with a couple of (dull) images.

Golden Pheasant
Pure Gold!
Returning to Flitcham we found a few Redwing for another year tick but the Pallid obviously didn't fancy the cold weather and kept itself hidden all day. On the journey south we stopped to check the fields around Welney to add Whooper and Bewick's Swans to the year list.

The year list now stands at 136

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Short-eared Owls at Rainham Marsh

I hadn't been to Rainham this year but took a stroll this afternoon after work and enjoyed good views of at least four Shorties from the Serin Mound in nice bright (but cold) weather. Kestrels entertained whilst waiting for the Owls too.  A couple of Snipe were flushed by the hunting Owls and other raptors included three Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. A Raven was seen over Wennington Marsh and the hill was alive with Linnet, Reed Bunting, Pipits and Skylark.

I'd had a Grey Wagtail at work in the morning and added to the Little Owl in Lambourne End on Thursday the year list has nudged up to 132.

Short-eared Owl at Rainham
Hunting Owl at Rainham Marsh