Monday, 29 October 2012

Desert Wheatear at Abberton

Wouldn't life be great if your disappointments could be overcome so easily every day.
Having dipped on the Desert Wheatear at Worthing on Saturday news comes of another bird at Abberton in Essex on Sunday.
The news is too late for me to get to the bird before dark as with the clocks going back on Sunday it's now dark at around 5pm.

Desert Wheatear twitch at Abberton
 So I watch with interest and with a work meeting planned for 10am I convince myself that a trip before work might be my best chance of catching the bird.
I set off at 6am this morning and was on site before 7am. On arrival a small group of birders had already gathered on the causeway and waved me as I got out of my car prompting a gallop in case it was my only chance. As I got to them I glimpsed movement as the bird dropped of the sand mound and out of sight.
Was that going to be it?..Did I really see enough of it to tick it? No was the answer to both questions.
The bird popped up just the road width away and worked it's way slowly up the causeway giving the group good views.
I would have loved to stay and watch the bird for longer but I had to get to work so left at 7.30am and was in work for 8.30am with a big smile on my face.
If Saturday was a trip to forget then today's was a perfect run.
No traffic at all on the way their or the way back to work. A group with the bird in scope on arrival.
The bird coming within a few yards doesn't get much better!

307 life list and 271 for 2012

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Waxwing at Languard

So the clocks went back last night and I missed the meet....still sleeping when the phone rang to tell me I was ten minutes late.
So a quick wash and in a flash I have the Jim's in the car heading up the A12.We decided that we'd search Holland Haven for Long Eared Owl today but after two hours we drew a blank.
We did get good views of Little Owl in the usual tree and a Sparrow Hawk flew past twice. I thought I had an Owl in the distance being mobbed by crows but it went to ground too quick for an ID.
Others birds here were Redpoll, Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Redwing and douzens of Blackbirds.
Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker showed on the woodpecker post by the dead tree.
Lot's of finches and pigeons on the moved again today and a large flock of c50 Fieldfare headed south.

We moved on to Languard. As we walked the fence line of the observatory I picked out a Firecrest and again Blackbirds by the douzen.
The ringers had the tapes playing loud and proud to lure birds into the nets but all they seemed to be attracting were Blackbirds.
As we walked the footpath in front of the observatory the old man had a very rare moment.
He found something!
"What's that in this bush guys?" And the rest is history as he finds a Waxwing. A moment to savour.
The bird showed really well for us but in the grey rain the camera stayed in the car so I have posted a picture taken earlier. (This is not the Languard bird)

Time to head home...we need to dry off as it's been a morning of drizzle and it's turned cold now too.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Dipping the Desert Wheatear at Worthing

I have debated long and hard in my mind about making the trip to Worthing for the Desert Wheatear.
The reports dried up yesterday at lunchtime so I thought that it had moved on and the trip was postponed.
Then late last night it gets posted as still there late evening and with it being a bird that I'm told likes to move in the day and not by night I start thinking it may stay.
Then the temperature drops and the wind picks up from the north both things likely to move this bird on.
I wake this morning and it's snowing, could the signals be any clearer?  "Don't go it's gone!"
 "If you don't go it'll show early and be off by lunchtime"...these are the voices in my head.
Throw in "Go to Norfolk with the NE wind it'd be a good day up there.

I pick up Jim and we head down to Worthing arriving around 9am.
Worthing Pier
Lot's of birders walking the beach and they don't have to say anything it's written on their faces....NO SIGN!
We waited until 10.45 but this was to be a big dip.
We picked up a nice Slavonian Grebe that drifted past nice and close and a couple of Pipits gave us distant hope of our bird.
Of note was the large numbers of Wood Pigeon coming in off the sea. Hundreds of them.
Finches flew past heading east.
Searching for the Wheatear
My scope took a fall which pleased me no end and we got stuck on the A2 for an hour on the way back so not the best days birding of the fact probably the worst....wish I'd listened to the other half of my brain and gone to Norfolk.  (PS..Worthing's a great place but the trip was a dog)
Sorry Jim!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Olived-backed Pipit for Breakfast at Gunners Park Essex

Early start today and I'm on site in my home county for a change by 7.30am
Gunners park used to be a site I visited but they have spent a couple of years developing it with houses being built etc so I haven't been for a while.
I pulled into the small car park on New Barge Pier Road, walked through to the foot path and turned left to head east with the construction site on my left and the sea wall on my right I couldn't help think of how the site used to look and how it used to be great for Barn Owls.

After a short walk (less than half a mile) I found what looked like the spot.
Three lady birders and a man birder were scanning the small copse and looked quite intent but not locked on to anything so I passed them with a mind to circling the copse.

As I reached the far end I noticed a movement from the ground to a tree just beyond a temporary fence and near an old brick building. I locked on and sure enough it's my Olive-backed Pipit.
I spent a couple of moments checking ID in my mind then called the others birders over.
We had about twenty minutes watching the bird from close range as it didn't even seem to mind the dog walkers approaching it.
The lady birders were really pleased I'd located it for them but the poor guy missed it as he'd wondered off while we had it returning just as it flew....hope he connected later.

Now back to work and chasing numbers instead of birds!

270 on the year list...306 on the life list
two additions to both in two days....that's some quality birding!

oh and I picked up a new tripod too ...good day all round.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Red Flanked Bluetail at Stiffkey

A little after work twitch this evening.
News that yesterdays reported 1st winter has stayed over night is too much to ignore for a bird I've wanted to see for many a year and one I've previously missed.
So I make the trip to Stiffkey in search of the little cracker.

Arriving at Stiffkey I find Greenway and drive along the lane to park in the car park by the marsh.
Walking along the footpath through the trees heading east for about half a mile I find a small crowd and before long I have connected with my first ever RED FLANKED BLUETAIL and it shows really well down to a few feet.
It's one of those birds that was named without imagination. It had red flanks and a bluetail!

Over the moon with the views I head back to the car picking up a Yellow Browed Warbler by the toilets at the caravan park on route.

Lot's of Goldcrest, Long Tailed Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Brambling, Fiedlfare and Redwing about.
When I say lot's read hundreds!


A long drive home in the dark but well worth the trip.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Red October

I like Autumn!
Japenese Maple

The colours that surround us are amazing and something I've always had an eye for.
I have a real appreciation for how light changes and enhances them too.
A red bush can be just that until all of a sudden the light changes and it becomes a stunning red bush.

So this morning with a family day planned and the boys coming along for some roast beef with the girls I find myself pottering around helping the good lady get ready but I can't resist a coffee in the
garden and whilst I'm sat there I start birding as always happens.

Jays duck and dive trying to steel peanuts without being noticed by the local Magpies who seem to think my Garden is there's to defend.
Two Goldcrest feed in my neighbours pine tree. Starlings make a rare visit to my garden for some left over cake. (I don't get many Starlings as a neighbour puts out fat balls and that takes them to his yard which I don't mind as it frees my garden for tits and finches etc)
A Jackdaw drops in along with Collared Dove, Wood and Feral Pigeon.
Blue Tit and Great Tit make use of my feeders with the Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.
A Robin and Dunnock clean up below the bird table with a couple of Squirrels and both BH and Herring Gull circle over head.
A Squirrel squirrelling peanuts

Nice half an hour doing what I do now back to work....where's that hoover?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dungeness Great White Egret

Picked up the Jim's this morning and we headed down the M20 to Dungeness arriving around 8.30am
On arrival we split up with the Jim's heading for the bird observatory area whilst I headed up to the beach.

The weather was mild with white cloud, no wind and reasonably warm for October.
I scanned the sea with the new scope to find Gannets feeding at distance, a Little Gull over the patch, a pair of Red Throated Diver and a Guillemot drifting along. Great Crested Grebe numbers are building on the sea as we get into autumn and thousands of Starling were on the moved heading west.
Hirundines were coming together for a final feed waiting for the right time and weather to head out to sea and their journey to wintering grounds.

Around the Lighthouse gardens I find several Goldcrest and a female Black Redstart.

Moving on to the catch up with the Jim's I arrive at the moat around the bird observatory and head towards the netting area. After a few minutes I find a female Ring Ouzel. I ring Jimmy and he makes his way over to connect with it. We also connect with a couple of Firecrest here and many more Goldcrests.
Chiffchaff are well represented here along with lot's of Blackbird.
(I here later of reports of Pallas's and YB warbler but we didn't see them)

We take a walk around the desert but little else is seen so we head back to the observatory to watch the guys ringing a few birds including a nice Jay, Blue Tits and Chiffchaffs.

Tried to grab a picture of the Glauc 
After a while we make our way to the car and take the short drive back to the fishing boat area where we quickly find the 3rd winter Glaucous Gull and it's joined as we watch by a Yellow Legged Gull.
I tried to record it via my IPhone but failed miserably.

Next we find a nice Stonechat before making our way to ARC pit where we find lot's of Golden Plover and Lapwings before I pick out a Little Stint on the far bank.
Also here are Pintail and Goldeneye.

The drive to the reserve follows and we connect with Tree Sparrow and Marsh Harrier on the way.
Once in the first hide we quickly find one of the three reported Great White Egrets and manage a few shots with Jimmy's camera. (Nice bit of kit he's invested in)
I hear Bearded Tits here and Cetti's Warbler.

Great White Egret
Close up, check out the green!

Satisfied with a good days birding and a nice test for the scope we head home.
Year ticks are getting harder and harder to find even in this month of expected arrival.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

It's arrived

I've finally taken the plunge.
I'd invested in a scope and was doing ok with it until my brother decided to purchase a Swarovski.
Once I'd looked through the Swaro my scope tended to get left in the boot of the car and I'd be content to wait for Jimmy to loan me a few seconds of his.
The difference of clarity was fantastic and in poor light the Swaro came into it's own so it was only a matter of time.
Then Swarovski go and launch the new ATX models and complicate the matter which delays my purchase as I weigh up if I can justify even more of my hard earned money going on a new scope.
Sunday night I made the call....I went on line and ordered the new scope within budget so avoiding the ATX.
Today the beast came as promised and I have just opened and tried it to my delight.

Roll on the weekend when I get to take it out for the first time and yes I am just like a kid with a new toy at Christmas.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Oare Marsh

View across Oare Marsh to Harty Ferry

The Swale
Not much to report but thought I'd load a couple of pictures from the weekend though.
As for birds I noted that there's a Red Rumped Swallow roosting at Titchwell tonight but I doubt I'll connect with it due to work obligations. Also a Penduline Tit has been seen today at Dungeness which may be a target for the weekend and a possible year tick. More pleasing though is the returning Short Eared Owls which will no doubt get some of my time in the near future.
Roll on the weekend!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Elmley and Capel Fleet

Went down to Elmley today as I didn't want to drive too far after having Man Flu all week.
The LEO that has been seen on and off in the orchard didn't oblige this morning and has probably decided to roost somewhere with less traffic.
Elmley Cow

We did get great views of a Merlin as we entered the reserve track and this was followed by good views of two more later on.
Marsh Harriers showed well in good numbers and a couple of Buzzards were seen with one being a very probable RL.

Sky Lark
Other birds of note were a large flock of Golden Plover and a single Wigeon with a huge flock of Teal. Lapwings are always seen here as are Skylark and Wagtail.
Large numbers of hirandines passed over on migration this morning too.

As we left Elmley I spotted a large raptor on a post and closer inspection revealed it to be a Harris Hawk and I managed a record shot in dull light before it took flight.

Harris's Hawk Elmley
We moved onto Capel Fleet and Harty Ferry where we had yet more views of Marsh Harriers and a distant Buzzard. A Sparrowhawk and several Kestrel were also seen along with large numbers of waders including Godwits, Knots, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank.
Shelduck and Egret were in good number  here too.
RL Partridge were every where trying to escape a local shoot.

Capel Fleet Raptor watchpoint
Good morning had with good numbers of raptors being the highlight.
Capel Fleet sign

Ferry winch at Harty Ferry

Got home to find a Greenfinch feeding in the garden which obliged with a couple of pics.