Monday, 18 September 2017

Arctic Warbler at Wells, PGT at Burnham and a bonus Phalarope

Norfolk with Suzanne today rewarded us with three cracking birds.

I started at Burnham Overy where views of the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler were difficult and the phrase elusive was rewritten for this one. I moved on with a single flight view under my belt and walked down the track at Wells Woods to find the Arctic Warbler showing much better as it flitted around in the top of the willows doing a reliable circuit and giving everybody a chance to get on it every ten minutes or so. I managed a half decent record shot and then returned to the PGT for another wait and another short flight view.
News of a Grey Phalarope at Salthouse reached me so I made the short trip to enjoy a few minutes with it before returning to Burnham for another go and in the hope that I might grab an image of the bird but alas it decided not to "show well" until I was well on my way home.

Life list now 390
Year list now 264

Arctic Warbler
Over a hundred eyes on the prize.
A lot of bush beating and tape playing and the odd disagreement about the right and wrong way to see the bird. It wasn't the nicest twitch I've attended and certainly  wasn't a good advert for putting the birds well being first although It should be noted the the majority showed restraint and only a few got a little over emphused  in their approach.

Grey Phalarope at Salthouse
Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Spotted Crake Ingrebourne Valley

Nice local one today....Spotted Crake Ingrebourne Valley!

A short drive, short walk and an hour or so wait. With the twitch focusing lazily on the area right in front of the view point I started scanning the rest of the area first finding a couple of Snipe on the fringes and several young Moorhen before I picked out the little guy walking through the grass to our left in the far corner of reeds from the view point. Over the next couple of hours locals came and went and the Crake slowly made it's way from the left to the right covering around thirty yards in three hours but every time it got to a clearing it sprinted to get back to cover so photographic opportunity was extremely limited.

Nice year tick though taking the year list to 261

Spotted Crake at Ingrebourne Valley

Spotted Crake

Sneaking through the grass
Occasionally showing just enough to grab a shot or two
Cracking little fella

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Black and white White winged Black Tern

The Jims picked me up this morning and took me out for a change. The local destination was Tyttanhangers Gravel Pits in Hertfordshire and our target was the White winged Tern.

We pulled into the car park at Willows Farm but it wasn't clear how to get to the lake and parking in a childrens activity park looked a little wrong so we drove around to the fishing hut and paid the day fee (£2 per person). The guy running the place very kindly opened the gate so we could drive to the far end where the bird had been favouring the very last lake. (Willows). As we got out of the car I spotted the bird and we enjoyed an hour or so watching it do it's thing. More birders came and went but all seemed to be using the Willows Farm car park on the other side of the lake.

Another year tick for the Jims but for me just the best views ever of this species even if I failed to capture it very well with the camera skills. (or lack of them)

Onwards and upwards!

White winged Black Tern
White winged Tern (background removed in PS)
White winged Tern
What a performer
The Jims working hard for the tick

Friday, 15 September 2017

Sandpiper double in Dorset

Arriving at Lodmoor at 7.30am this morning we paid for four hours parking and marched off to the viewpoint only to be put on the Least Sandpiper straight away by the birders that had arrived before us. The tiny peep was showing well on the far bank giving lovely scope views but testing the phrase "record shot" (see below)

Least Sandpiper at Lodmoor "record shot"
With some advise from the gathered birders we moved on in search of the Stilt Sandpiper finding it within a few minutes at the far end of the reserve with the other waders.
We couldn't believe our luck bagging these two yanks as lifers within a few minutes of our arrival.

The more appropriate record shot of my first Stilt Sandpiper
We moved on to Portland where negative news of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper prompted us to try the Quarry area and this rewarded us with great views of a Wryneck. We couldn't find the Hoopoe that's been seen regularly in the area and the Buff-breast never re appeared during our time on site.

Wryneck at Portland

Year list 260 and life list now 388

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Citrine Wagtail at Minsmere

Arriving at Minsmere at 7am this morning we found the reserve cloaked in sea mist with little to see on our walk around to East Hide but as we entered the hide the mist started to clear slowly and views of the scrape became clearer and clearer over the next hour or so.

Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Common and Green Sandpiper, Black & Bar-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ruff and Avocet all revealed themselves as the mist cleared.  A Cuckoo flew over whilst a Peregrine hunted and a Water Rail walked among the reeds close to the hide.

As we scanned the Pied Wagtails we hit on a very pale bird as it popped up but it quickly dropped out of site again. Sure this was the target we kept an eye on the area and sure enough the Citrine Wagtail came out to feed and we enjoyed great scope views for the next couple of hours before it flew off to feed in front of North Hide. On our walk around we stopped in West Hide were Jimmy managed to pick out the bird again and get the gathered group on it.

Record shot......just to the right of the post!
A good trip with a lifer in the bag for the three of us and I can recommend Ruby's Apple and Blackcurrant Sponge Crumble (£2.80 and worth every penny)

Year list now 257 Life list now 386

Lapwing (shame the Wagtail didn't show this close)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Woodchat Shrike at Sodbury Common

With the Jims needing the Woodchat Shrike for a life tick we headed off up the M4 this morning in search of that tick. Arriving on Sodbury Common at 7ish we got lucky as we pulled up next to the finder and received detailed advise on where to look as he walked on to work his patch for the morning.

Woodchat Shrike at Sodbury Common

With the rain falling it was proving difficult to find the Shrike but as we walked around finding at least nine Whinchat, several Common Redstart and single Stonechat and a fly over Tree Pipit.
As the rain stopped the Shrike came out to play and flitted from bush top to bush top for the next couple of hours giving the boys good views and ensuring the year tick for me and life tick for them.

Heavily cropped record shot.
The rain continued but being only sixteen miles from Slimbridge we decided on making the journey.
I paid my £12.72 (funny amount for an entrance fee?) and walked through the massive visitor centre to the wetlands beyond. First we found Bewick Swan with the Mutes then a large collection of Flamingo which I didn't expect. From the first hide we found Ruff, Green Sand, Snipe, Blackwit, Little Ringed Plover and Grey Wagtail along with a fly through Sprawk.

At the next hide three Green Sands and a young Wood Sand piped along the fringes and further along we found a pair of Cranes.

The mixed collections of wildfowl took me by surprise but we enjoyed looking through them to find the surprises and enjoy close views of birds like Bufflehead, Canvasback, Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, Smew, Goldeneye, White-headed Duck, Richardsons Canada, Bean Goose and Trumpeter Swan.

Year list now at 256

A few images from the wildfowl collection at Slimbridge..................

Bean Goose 
Bewick Swan
Black-winged Stilt
Trumpeter Swan
Ring-necked Duck
A little bit of Hawai
Dirty Crane
It'd be nice to go back when it wasn't raining!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Pied Fly at Wanstead

Today started with a visit to Landguard hoping for some migrants and we found only three Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtails and four Lesser Whitethroats for our trouble. As we headed home the pager bleeped with news of a Pied Flycatcher in motorcycle wood so we carried on down the M11 and into Wanstead. With bumped into Nick and John on site and after some time John located the Pied Fly and we all managed decent views as it caught flies in the company of a Spotted Flycatcher.

Year list now 255

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroats
Lesser Whitethroat