Sunday, 31 August 2014

Red-backed Shrike outperforms the Sub Warbler

I set off today hoping I might finally see my first Greenish Warbler but let's just say I didn't and leave that there.

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
I did see the Red-backed Shrike at Winterton after walking about two miles north along the dunes from the cafe car park in Beach Road. The walk was well worth it as the bird was not only a little stunner but if you sat at the opposite end of the bushes the bird would happily make it's way toward you giving fantastic views.
The long walk back delivered Stonechat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Green Sandpiper but despite a short search I failed to find either Wryneck or yesterdays Greenish.

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
I also took time to try for the Eastern Subalpine but the views were so short and the bird so scruffy I have decided not to include it on my list at this point. Here I found a Pied Flycatcher and two Spotted flycatchers in the nearby Sycamores which was a little bonus for the time spent watching bushes waiting for better views of the Sub which never came.

Year list now at 242

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dunge delivers yet again

With a rare Saturday away from chasing the dollars at work I decided to visit Dunge this morning and of course the Jims came along too.
We set off at 5.30am driving through the gloom to arrive at ARC pit at 7am where it was still grey but dry.
From the viewing screen we very quickly located the Red-necked Phalarope and enjoyed distant views. Marsh Harrier flew over and the pits held Garganey, Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing and Snipe along with the others usual suspects. Clouds of Hirundines buzzed over the water in the thousands.
We next headed down Denge Marsh Road driving to the far end and parking by the Gully where within seconds we'd seen the Melodious warbler. The bird showed really well for us and even allowed a few pictures before the rain came. Whilst here we had very brief views of the Wryneck but it failed to come out from deep cover.

Melodious Warbler at Denge Marsh Gully
Melodious Warbler

Next we tried Galloways and the drive there produced lot's of Whinchat, Wheatear and Stonechat. As we parked up we were told of another Wryneck in the area and after a while enjoyed really good scope views of one sitting in a dead elderberry.

We returned to ARC and from the screen eventually connected with the Little Stint and in the bushes I had Cetti's, Reed, Willow and Sedge Warbler before hearing what sounded like a Firecrest but I couldn't be sure. We had a pair of Raven, ,a very large flock of Starling, a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk to add before leaving for home.

Starlings at Dunge

Year list now stands at 241

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wheatears and Waders

An early morning trip to Dunge today found a very calm sea, no wind and even the sun was shining almost had me thinking I'd taken a wrong turn. On the beach the Common Terns were noisy as they hunted up and down the tide line and a number of gulls roosted but nothing of note.

Wheatear Wreck
On the shingle there were Wheatears everywhere with one upturned boat having eight birds on it at one time.
A drive around the reserve gave up more Wheatears and a further drive around Denge Marsh gave up more but I found no Whinchat.

I drove across to Oare where the East Flood was full to bursting with waders.
Big numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Avocet and Golden Plover, A few Dunlin, Ruff, Redshank, Lapwing and Ringed Plover made up the bulk along with a couple of Knot a single Green and Curlew Sandpiper and a Snipe. A pair of Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard flew over giving the waders some concern.

Black-tailed Godwit
I enjoyed watching the waders wading for a while before making the journey home.
No ticks today but a nice break from work all the same.

Looks like I may have missed a "probable" Baltic Gull........ouch!
note to self: must work harder at Gull ID.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Bee-eater finally makes it on the list

Today I picked up the Jim's and headed down the M3 to pick up the 7.15 ferry from Lynmouth to Yarmouth on the Isle Of Wight. I booked the ferry last night for the car and three passengers at a cost of £60 and the 120 mile drive down took a couple of hours. The ferry crossing was smooth and we then made the 17 mile drive south to Niton (postcode PO28 2NY to be precise)

We pulled into the sign posted car park (field) at 8.15am and spoke with the volunteer on duty who told us that seeing the birds would be difficult with todays overcast and windy weather but within seconds of getting the scope up we'd picked up a couple of splendid Bee-eaters sitting in a dead tree and although distant we enjoyed good scope views for the next three hours as three birds came and went. One bird flew towards us and could be heard calling as it circled overhead. The Bee-eater has to be the most spectacularly coloured on the British list and I'm delighted to have finally added it to my list having seen them abroad but never finding one over here to tick before today.
The tick is made all the sweeter by the fact that these birds are only the third to breed in Britain.

The news from the site is that the birds (actually four adult birds here) nested in an old Rabbit scrape and have so far fledged three young with another still to leave the nest. The nest has been protected by an electric fence to keep the local Fox at bay and volunteers have kept a 24/7 watch over the nest to protect it from egg thieves. Good work all round.

Penguin in Yarmouth harbour

Year list now at 237 and the life list moves to 346 

Other news: I enjoyed at day at the emirates yesterday with my youngest!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hurricane Bertha

So Hurricane Bertha made it across the Atlantic today bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds.
I reluctantly called off the planned trip to the Isle of Wight fearing the weather would firstly make it difficult to get over and back and secondly make it difficult to see the Bee-eaters.

A few checks on line and it would seem to have been a decent call not to travel today!

Ferry cancellations
The weather forecast got worse during the day!
The Ferry company issued apologies for cancellations to their scheduled crossings which I suppose makes the concern we had a little more justified.

As for Cornwall and the expected volumes of sea birds the storm was to deliver......well it delivered a few but my guess is that it was a long, slow day on the coast for the slim pickings it delivered.

A few shearwaters about today.
On a brighter note I just got a nice message from my son who bumped into a legend at Wembley today.

Ian Wright Wright Wright 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Planning a trip is not without it's issues.

So I make no secret that I would like to see the Bee-eaters on the Isle of Wight and it should be a simple matter of, get time off for good behaviour, drive down the M3 get the ferry over, see the birds and drive back but it's never that simple.

Firstly work gets in the way and when I do finally get the time to go the weather decides to get involved too.

So on the face of it the weather isn't looking too bad with rain until late morning then plenty of sunshine.
But I read on and find that a met office Amber warning is now in place for the Isle of Wight.

So my planning now has to consider the fact that this warning exists and coupled with the fact that the trip also involves a 40 minute ferry sailing and the rain lasting well into the morning the trip would for sure present a few hurdles.

So then I check the ferry company and find no details of planned shut downs or anything of that nature and in fact crossing costs are very reasonable indeed. (£60 for the three amigos and car).

Ferry costs
The big talk is Hurricane Bertha hitting our shores this evening and what yank birds it may or may not deliver down the western coast of the UK and this coupled with talk of strong on shore winds bringing some large shearwaters close enough to the Cornish coast to be seen will I'm sure give a good few birders cause for planning this weekend but for me it's all about the Bee-eaters and can I take the chance of leaving it another week or do I go tomorrow?

I guess I'll have one eye on the forecast for the rest of the day and then decide which way the scales are thing I do know is that Cornwall is sadly just too far.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Spotted Crake at Twitch-well


I debated going down south for the Bee-eaters today but the forecast for Norfolk looked much better so I headed up there with the Jims at the crack of dawn pulling into the car park at Twitchwell before 7am.
We headed down to Island hide and spotted the Spotted Crake walking the reed border before we'd even got down the ramp. It showed really well but failed to come out into the light so any photographs were going to be difficult.  The bird showed real spirit as it challenged any bird brave enough to get close including a juvenile Water Rail that tricked a few into thinking two Crakes had arrived.

Spotted Crake always in the shadow
Also on Freshmarsh was a cracking Wood Sandpiper showing down to a few feet but again with the sun right behind it photographs were a challenge. Godwits, Avocet, Turnstone, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, LRP Spoonbill, Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Tern and Wagtails made up the rest of the pickings from Island Hide. As we walked down to Parinder three Marsh Harrier flew along in the distance and Hirundines gathered in ever increasing numbers. A Shelduck begged me to pap it so I obliged before leaving for a walk to the beach were 13 Eider had gathered close in and a few Gannets hunted on the horizon. The walk back gave good views of a Chinese Water Deer and a family of Red-crested Pochard.

Chinese Water Deer
We drove down to Cley where we scanned North Scrape for the reported Temminck's Stint.
I found a fine Curlew Sandpiper and a summer plumage Knot before glimpsing the Stint but it vanished as quick as I'd got on it. The Dunlin took flight and a small bird joined them which I also thought was the Stint but again it all happened a bit quick and when the Dunlin settled the small guy was still missing. Scanning further away I picked up a few Green Sandpiper which pleased Jim as he'd been hoping for one today still needing it for a year tick.

Curlew Sandpiper

We had thoughts of looking for the Pratincole at Ouse but the clock beat us and it'll have to wait for another day.

Year list now 236