Monday, 13 March 2023

Waxwing at Cranfield in Bedfordshire


Just a few images from the single visit to the apples during my visit to Cranfield

Sunday, 12 March 2023

It's been a while

I haven't been out birding since 15th February save the half hour trip to Bramfield on 16th Feb for Hawfinch. The usual family duties coupled with a rather nasty chest infection have taken all my time, sapped my energy and I've found it difficult to find my mojo too. The weather has been pretty poor which hasn't helped with my motivation to get up and get out but following a course of antibiotics I find myself feeling better and with a clear day in the forecast I decided to make the half hour trip to Stanborough Lakes in Hertfordshire hoping to see my first Little Bunting for the county and it couldn't have been easier arriving to find Matt and George M had the bird in their scopes. I watched it come and go for a few minutes at the feeder but didn't hang around long as views were distant and into the light so took the county/year tick and moved on.

Little Bunting and Reed Buntings at the feeder

I decided to drive further up the A1 to see if the Waxwings at Cranfield would show and again on arrival they were sitting in the Crab apple tree so I grabbed a few images before they flew back to their watchpoint tree. The birds didn't return to feed for the next hour or so at which time I left glad to be back out and pleased to add the year tick with the Little Bunting.

Waxwing at Stanborough Lakes

Lets hope I don't have to wait another month for my next trip.

Year list now 159

Thursday, 16 February 2023

At last a day out

I hadn't managed a day out since 29th January mainly due to man flu and my continued care duties but with a clear day on 15th I decided I'd head up to the Brecks and try to find some Goshawks as the weather looked ideal. The Jims wanted to come so we all headed up the A11 and landed at Lakenheath for first light. A walk up to the washland view point delivered nice views of a Great Egret and four Whoopers before an Otter was spotted in the river which is my first ever at Lakenheath. Two more Great Egrets were feeding along the river bank and we scanned the Geese for the reported Tundra Bean Geese without luck.

As we walked round the reserve we encountered several Marsh Harriers with a short display from one pair. Lots of pinging from Bearded Tits with a couple of distant views for a late year tick and the Jims ticked Water Rail at last. As we returned to the river I noticed the Goose numbers had picked up and located the three Tundra Beans but they all took flight before the Jims caught me up due to a river dredger passing them, luckily they flew back and Jim picked them up as they landed on the washland. A Kingfisher sat out in the open below the viewpoint which was a nice way to end our visit.


Marsh Harrier

Tundra Bean Geese

Whooper Swans

We next headed up to Cockley Cley and plotted up for a session, news from the guys on site was that it had been quiet as they packed up to leave but shortly after they left we had a single bird fly over then a pair got up and although not a full display there was some interaction between them before they both roosted up in the distant pines for a while. Two Peregrine and at least ten Buzzard entertained us as did the boxing Hares and a singing Woodlark. We also enjoyed the company of Toby an enthusiastic eleven year old out showing his Mum the birds of the Brecks. Great to see young people enjoying the hobby, I remember seeing my first Spoonbill at Minsmere when I was his age and I've been a bird nut ever since although work and raising a family became bigger priorities as they do for most of us.

Goshawk at in the tree..views were much better in the scope than the camera.

On the route home we had to pass Lynford so decided to try again for Hawfinch but failed to see any despite waiting until 3.30pm. A disappointing end to the day although Jim picked up a year tick with Brambling at the feeding station which seems to be up and running again.

16th Feb.....Went to Bramfield church and saw a Hawfinch  (year list now 158)

Sunday, 29 January 2023

A little Canada goose in Norfolk

Back in 2012 we saw a Richardson's Cackling goose at Cley and assumed that was that but the bird failed to get accepted so didn't make our list and has haunted us ever since. We don't twitch the islands and this isn't a species easier seen on the mainland especially in the south so when James M found one this week in Norfolk we planned to give it a try at the weekend and hope for it to stick.

This morning we headed north up the A10 stopping at Welney where we year ticked Tree Sparrows among the House Sparrows and then connected with Cattle Egret as three birds flew up and over the bank as a cyclist passed. A Barn Owl was seen on the fence outside the main building and it was nice to see and hear the thousands of Whoopers. News came through that the Little goose had been seen so we packed up and headed north again. We arrived at the concrete pad in Brancaster and joined the guys on site. Graham J kindly allowed us to view the Goose in his scope for the tick before setting up our own to get longer views. The bird was distantly feeding in a field with c3000 Pink-footed Geese. 

From here we went to Holkham with Graham and managed to jam on Firecrest as we entered the boardwalk area. A sea watch delivered a few more year ticks as a small raft of Common Scoter drifted west with at least one Velvet Scoter. Lot's of Mergansers and a single Long-tailed duck were seen and Graham found a Red-necked Grebe. 



We stopped at Abbey Farm, Flitcham on the drive south and year ticked Yellowhammer but failed again to find the "resident" Little Owls.

Year list now 153

Life list 437

Thursday, 26 January 2023

finding time

Somehow I'm finding time to get some birding in despite my growing family commitments. I doubt this will continue for long but I'm enjoying it all the same and living in the moment for now.

Today I had a couple of spare hours so popped over to the Bittern hide at the valley stopping on the way to check Strawberry pond and to year tick Mandarin duck. I found 22 birds on the small pond with 20 Mallard and a few Moorhen. I took a few quick images and continued my short  journey through the forest to the valley. At the hide I enjoyed good views of the Bittern as it caught a couple of small Perch and then a large Tench. Outside the hide I found a female Kingfisher and watched her fish for a while and Dave told me of a drake Smew on Seventy Acre so I connected with that too although it was a bit distant for my 400mm lens.

Year list now 145

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Med Gulls at Southend

I had to drop my son to an appointment in Rayleigh today so took the opportunity to look for Mediterranean Gulls on Southend beach. Armed with a loaf of bread I drew in the locals which were mostly Black-headed Gulls with the odd Common, Lesser-black back and Herring Gull. Amongst the large frenzy coming to my bread were several Med Gulls including first winters, second winters and adult birds.

Adult With Gold

2nd winter Med Gull

1st winter

1st winter

1st winter

2nd winter

Later I moved on to Wallasea were I enjoyed good but distant views of two (possibly three) Ring-tailed Hen Harrier and a Barn Owl. On the lagoons were plenty of waders including Grey Plover, Avocet, Dunlin, Redstart and Black-tailed Godwit. Time ran out fast before I had to leave to pick my son up for the return journey up the A127 and home.

The pointless year list is now 145 

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Couple of quick ticks this morning

With the grandkids due at lunchtime I had a couple of hours spare and decided to visit Lemsford springs again and try for Jack Snipe with the colder weather hopefully keeping them there for my visit. I left early, too early actually so decided to carry on around the M25 and quickly tick the Lesser Scaup on Staines reservoir. We found the bird sleeping with the Pochards but didn't hang around as time was of a premium. Three Black-necked Grebes the only other birds of note in the short visit to the reservoir.

The Lesser Scaup amongst the Pochard raft


Following the success at Staines we moved quickly back around the 25 to Lemsford and found the hide a little busy but we squeezed in and were rewarded with great views of 14 Green Sandipers, 3 Jack Snipe, 2 Common Snipe, and a Grey Wagtail. There was also a couple of Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. Henry WJ told us of a Firecrest he'd found by the entrance gate but we failed to find it. There's not been a Firecrest seen at Lemsford since 1984 so a good find today for Henry. The warden also told us a couple of interesting facts whilst we watched the Snipe, one of the Green Sandpipers present is the oldest known in the world at 12 years. It was also recorded flying to Norway in 24 hours and found to be nesting there in an old Redwings nest. Also one of the Little Egrets on site is the most recorded with something like 600 reports if I remember things correctly. The warden certainly has a passion for the reserve and the birds that visit it.

Jack Snipe and Green Sandpiper

Jack Snipe

Jack Snipe

Jack Snipe

Jack Snipe

Jack Snipe

Just the two year ticks and a London tick too.

Year list now 144   London list now 230