Thursday, 29 January 2015

Scotland 2015 trip booked!

Our annual trip to Scotland has been booked

Thursday 2nd April we board an Easyjet flight at Stanstead heading to Glasgow where we pick up the hire car and make our way north into the Highlands. Staying in Fort William we'll be searching for those Scottish specialities all over again.

Can't wait!

A once in a lifetime experience from 2013's trip

Monday, 26 January 2015

Image printed in Birdwatch magazine

Front Cover
The postman delivered my copy of 'Birdwatch' this morning and as I skipped through the pages it was nice to notice one of my images printed on the pages.
The magazine had asked for some of my Cattle Egret shots from Dunge but hadn't made any commitment to use them so it was pleasing to see they'd chosen my shot for the spread.                                                                        

The Spread

The original

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Surf Scoter at Wrabness ESSEX

The view from Bradfield
I've watched the reports of Surf Scoter coming in for a while now as the first winter drake seems to have decided it's an Essex bird so this morning we headed off up the A12 to Bradfield arriving at first light we parked on the main road and walked down Shore Lane to the estuary shore. We scanned and scanned in the freezing conditions and found lots of Goldeneye, Brent Geese, Mergansers, Great Crested Grebe and a couple of small Grebes (probably Slav's). The estuary was full of waders with Avocet, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Oyster Catcher a few of those encountered. With no joy from this vantage point we returned to the car and drove to Wrabness parking in the wildlife reserve car park and walking the tarmac path to the bird hide which overlooks the estuary. On arrival a couple of birders were already scanning but had not seen the Scoter. As I raised my bins I spotted a dark duck on the near side of the water and quickly put the others onto what I suspected was our target. To their delight and my relief it was indeed the Surf Scoter and it gave us all great scope views as the light improved.
I took a record shot.

Surf Scoter.
On the walk back to the car we found a small group of Bullfinch for another year tick and I had a fly over Peregrine for tick number three for the day. We moved onto Abberton and from Layer Breton causeway Jim found us a Bittern in the far reed bed and three Smew (two drakes) which again remained distant. The Island held a group of Snipe and despite reports whilst there we failed to connect with the White-fronted Geese.

Grey Goose
Year list now at 134

A have a few birds from last January's total still not seen this year and with only one more Saturday in January these could all remain missing. I have seen a few more than last January's total at this point so so not all bad news. I think overall I'm up six!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Lynford for Hawfinch

A nice morning in Norfolk with a first stop at Lynford Arboretum in search of Hawfinch. As we walked down to the paddock we enjoyed our first Marsh Tits of 2015 and then Jimmy found our target in the Hornbeams of the paddock. The single bird sat on top of the tree but soon moved lower to feed so we watched for around 40 minutes as it performed and gave great scope views.

Marsh Tit
Several Goldcrest were heard and a single bird was seen. A large flock of Siskin flew high in the Alders and a group of Redwing were also seen here. Further down to the second bridge and I found a single Brambling whilst the Jims were off enjoying good views of Kingfisher. As we walked back along the path I had a second Brambling feeding with Chaffinch and Siskin but a dog walker flushed it before the Jims could get the tick. Back at the house and despite Brambling being seen earlier by other birders we found none having to settle for a Grey Wagtail as our prize here. Greater spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Nuthatch were all added to the days totals here.

Coal Tit
With the Jims now even more determined to tick Brambling today we headed off to the car park at Santon Downham where we did eventually find the target amongst a large tit flock containing many Coal Tits.
Another Treecreeper was seen before we headed off and a quick stop at the layby gave us distant views of the wintering Great Grey Shrike. Once seen we had to make the 400m walk to view at closer quarters but the bird remained distant during the visit.

A nice mornings birding adding five year ticks and bringing the year list to 131.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Epping Forest Fox

An afternoon stroll around a very frozen Connaught Water and then the Epping Forest Centre at High Beach delivered little in terms of birds. A Sparrowhawk and Nuthatch being the highlights but as I walked the trail at the Forest centre a Fox came walking towards me. He stopped looked me up and down weighed up a detour to the left or right then decided to stay on his track and walked right on passing within a couple of feet of me. A nice encounter especially as I had the camera in hand and managed to grab a few images.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Date for the diary


That's the day the people of Malta get to vote on ending or continuing with the annual spring hunt.
The spring hunt currently allows the hunters (estimated at over 11,000 people) to hunt kill thousands of Quail and Turtle Dove as they pass over the island on migration.

Let's hope the rest of the island finds the strength to vote for the ban with the government promising that a negative vote would stop the shooting and save tens of thousands of birds being killed this spring.

You never know we may even get to see of few survivors making it all the way to our Island where they'll be greeted by the camera and not the gun, not that we don't have a few lessons to learn ourselves, did somebody say Hen Harrier!

Anyway fingers crossed for the vote and here's to a decent weekend of birding ahead.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Windy Wallasea

We enjoyed a windy visit to Wallasea this morning where it was freezing cold with the strong winds biting into the skin as we stood scanning from the sea wall.

Corn Bunting
Our reward for the session was Merlin, Rough-legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier. Large flocks of both Corn Bunting and Linnet flew around the reserve and a big group of Starling were also seen.
Two Stonechats gave the camera a workout around the edges of the car park and on the wader front we had Lapwings, Golden Plover, Redshank and a heard only Greenshank.

Starlings on the move to avoid the Merlin
The Merlin was seen hunting Starlings and then sitting in the green field by the car park before taking flight again in pursuit of a flock of Buntings. The Rough Leg was distant as it hunted along the far bank but the Harriers came a little closer. Disappointed not to see any Peregrine on this visit.

Stonechat and Owl pellet
I didn't notice the Owl pellet until I looked at the image at home.

No Owls were seen on the visit but we did have one fly across the A12 on route moving from Bedfords Park towards the woods across the road. We first thought Short-eared but more likely would be Long-eared which would have been a nice tick should we be more certain but I guess the chances of a Shortie in Bedfords park are more slim than LEO.

A nice mornings birding and the year list now sits at 126