Sunday, 13 January 2019

Wallasea Hen Harriers

After bagging a single tick last Sunday with the Bittern at Amwell I wanted another outing today and after looking at the weather which promised a little light at Wallasea where as the rest of the country seemed to be forecasting dark cloud I jumped in the car and headed down the A127.

On arrival I was surprised to find a gate blocking my entry to the track which didn't open until 8am which was OK on this occasion but in the spring I'd usually arrive much earlier so like Rainham and Elmley before it seems that no thought has been given to anybody wanting to make the most of the golden hour for photography.

It was not bright as forecast and with the wind blowing it was pretty cold especially from the sea wall but my reward for the trip was two Hen Harriers and singles of Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard but any Owls present stayed down out of the wind. The flooded fields held lot's of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck and Mute Swans along with a few Curlew, Dunlin and Redshank. Corn Bunting remain present in good numbers.

A couple of Med Gulls added to the year list on a brief scan by the pier at Sounthend and a stop off on the way home at Bowers Marsh gave a further tick in the form of two White-fronted Geese  although the pedigree could be questioned but it was nice to see them with the Canada Geese to establish the size difference.

Year list now 140


Saturday, 5 January 2019

Going well

We set out this morning with a bit of a Lynford wish list and to say it went well would be an understatement.

From the bar gate that Chris has set up as a feeding station and drinking pool we had our first Brambling of 2019 followed quickly by another fifty or so. Nuthatch were really noisy all around us but I had to wait an hour or so to see my first of the year. We walked down to the paddock and picked up Goldcrest and Marsh Tit around the feeders by the bridge and then heard Crossbill calling. Shortly after seven Crossbill flew over. Jimmy then found a single Hawfinch feeding on Hawthorn giving great scope views and a large flock of Siskin added another tick. Back at the feeding station and whilst watching the Brambling a single Lesser Redpoll dropped down to the pool for a quick drink and then a Hawfinch came in to give excellent close up views. Three more Crossbill sat at the top of a pine tree near the entrance and two more flew over as we got back to the car.

We moved on to Santon Downham and picked up a Kingfisher by the bridge and another two Crossbill but little else of note.

On the journey back whilst the Jims slept I spotted a Red Kite flying over the M11 near Cambridge and then we took a small detour to find the Caspian Gull on Eagle Pond at Snaresbrook.

Year list now 137 in five days.

An old Red Kite pic to remind the Jims that if you snooze you lose!
And when I say going, second and third and as much as we know we'll end up with a respectable 250 plus we won't be challenging the big guns around the 300 plus mark...but no reason to not enjoy the moment.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Ring necked Duck at Abberton

I planned a detour on the way to my sons today taking in a couple of hours at Abberton before heading back down the A12 for a walk around Hornchurch CP and a late pub lunch.
Bumped into Wansteads Nick C at Hornchurch and enjoyed a brief catch up but before that I'd picked up a male Smew then two redheads from Layer Breton causeway. I counted 43 Goosander but 100 were later reported. I searched for the Ring-necked Duck among the Tufties but couldn't find it depsite it being seen this morning. From the other causeway I picked out two Greater Scaup and a single Black-necked Grebe which had just dropped in.
A Grey Wagtail flew along the bank of the reservoir to give one more tick for the year bringing my total in four days to a respectable 126.

Got home to news that the Jims had found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker locally today so I'll try to get some info on that and hope it can be refound.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Birding Dunge and Capel Fleet

With the fresh enthusiasm of the year list we headed to Dungeness this morning arriving at the boats for first light to find the shore close in alive with Auks, Gannets and Cormorants. Most of the Auks were Guillemot with a few Razorbill close in too. The Gannets were in the main adult birds with a single sub-adult and no juveniles. Red-throated Divers flew up and one settled on the sea to give good scope views. A single Kittiwake and two Great Skua added to the year list here. Despite a local throwing out a full loaf of bread to draw in the gulls we failed to bring in a Caspo but did manage to see two Skylark on the walk back to the car along with three Stock Dove which the Jims needed.

What little light we had first thing was golden
Gannets diving close in among the Cormorants
one of the hundreds of Auks on the sea today.
At the power station we found a Peregrine roosting on the pylons and a Back Redstart gave another tick.

Black Redstart
Back at ARC pit and we located a single Great White Egret before stopping at the farm to tick Tree Sparrow for the year list and jamming on a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Just down the road we found four Cattle Egrets and managed to grab a few images too. A quick drive to Galloways firing range ensured we didn't leave without Stonechat on the list and we managed a bonus bird with an unexpected Dartford Warbler that showed really well nut was flitty and didn't sit still long.

Dartford Warbler
At Scotney we failed to locate the Little Owl but added a single tick with the feral Barnacle Geese.

We left Dunge and started the journey home stopping half way at Capel Fleet to watch the harrier roost. Around twenty Marsh Harriers came in with a single ring-tailed Hen Harrier. Lot's of Buzzard sat on the fence line with one particularly pale bird noteable. A Merlin sat on a small mud mound among the Lapwing and Golden Plover flock and a Peregrine sat on a fence post watching too.
Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl added to the raptor fest here. We also added Corn Bunting and Fieldfare here.

Year list now a healthy 122 after 3 days.


Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egret
2 of the 4 Cattle Egrets at Lydd today
Cattle Egrets
Dartford Warbler

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

a few more local ticks

I popped into work this morning like you do then dropped into Connaught Waters on the way home.

Three Jay and two Ring-necked Parakeets were seen as I drove down to the car park and a Green Woodpecker called loudly and then I picked up Shoveler, Goosander and Mandarin Duck on the walk around the lake.

So the year list has eased over a hundred in two days to 102 with a planned trip to Kent tomorrow to add a few more ticks and keep the fire burning.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Another year and another year list

Should I year list again?

Some do and some don't and I've wrestled with the year list thing too but I find the chase takes me to places I wouldn't go if I wasn't in the chase. For instance I'll probably visit Capel Fleet, Oare, Dunge, Wallasea in the near future chasing down a few ticks like Gt White Egret, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Tree Sparrow etc and every visit to these places is a joy to me but the chase gives me that added incentive to visit.  Then there's the record keeping by putting the details on Bubo I get to review them year on year which is interesting as you look back at what you saw each year and when was your earliest arrival etc.

So I will be listing again and again it will be public and transparent.

I started today with two garden ticks before I left home with both Robin and Blackbird singing loudly. I picked up the Jims and we parked up in a layby in Epping Forest to nail Tawny Owl for the year list and it took less than a minute to get it. Whilst fuelling the car in Epping I had a singing Song Thrush and then we made our way up the A11 towards North Norfolk our favored day one venue.
A Barn Owl at Runcton added to the list before we arrived at Hunstanton where a brief stop gave us Fulmar plus a couple of gulls and waders.

Thornham allowed us to see Twite again and we watched the Marsh Harriers leave the roost but failed to see any Hen Harrier leave. We added more waders and wildfowl here before moving on to Titchwell where we got Water Pipit, Peregrine, Long Tailed Duck, Slav Grebe plus many other ticks to justify the choice of venue.

We picked up a few more ticks as we drove along the A149 but had to change plans a little as Holkham and Wells were both far too busy to enjoy any real birding. We decided instead to start the journey south stopping at North Walsham for the Dipper them Ludham for the Swans and then finally Long Stratton for the Waxwings. All proved successful and helped bring the day one total to 96.

Black-bellied Dipper. The only time the camera came out of the bag today as we raced around in a day one tick chase.

Monday, 31 December 2018

A last minute addition to the year list

Setting off at 6.30am this morning we found ourselves in North Walsham for first light and very quickly found the wintering Black-bellied Dipper no more than ten feet from the car. It spent most of the time in a very dark part of the river and was happy swimming, diving and feeding but it did give a very quick flight under the bridge allowing a record shot before it flew back down the river.
Whilst here I found a Kingfisher sitting on a boat and as I approached it flew to sit on the Fishing sign allowing a very quick record in very poor light but it made for a nice image all the same.

Black-bellied Dipper North Walsham
Kingfisher at North Walsham
Waxwing in Norwich
On the drive back we stopped in Norwich to collect a very late year tick in the form of four Waxwings which even in the gloom still gave some good opportunity with the camera.

Here's to tomorrow and the start of yet another year list.
Here's to the places it will take me and to the memories it will create.
Happy New Year and may it bring you health and happiness.

Colour ringed Waxwing