Tuesday 30 September 2014

Masked Shrike at Spurn

As readers of my mutterings here will know I don't twitch over two hours so with the cracking find at Spurn last week of a Masked Shrike I've been hoping it stuck around knowing I would be in Yorkshire for a conference on 29th. I travelled up yesterday morning in the fog hoping that would have kept the bird down over night and on arrival at the car park I was informed the bird was indeed still present. A short walk up the lane opposite and a small gathering soon put me onto this little Shrike vagrant as it hunted along the hedge line at the rear of the fields. I took a record shot and watched the bird feed for a while before setting off up the road for Canal Scrape where I found eight Snipe feeding before eventually locating a Jack Snipe hidden in the short grassy bank. The bird was hidden as it roosted but as soon as it started bobbing it gave itself up.

Masked Shrike (small white patch centre of photograph.....honest!)
Jack Snipe
Jack Snipe
Common Snipe
Common Snipe
Next I took a drive back up Easington Road hoping for a little inspiration in my search for Common Rosefinch and at the end of the road I noticed three birders scoping a field. As I approached to ask if they had anything the man (with his wife and son) said he thought he might have a Richard's Pipit and sure enough once in the scope I could concur and we put the news out of his find to the delight of the other birders on Spurn who soon gathered to see the bird.

My search then took me back up to the car park where another wander up the small lane opposite gave me brief views of the Common Rosefinch before it flew off in the company of several Greenfinch. Time for another half an hour with the Shrike before heading off to my meeting.

This was my first trip to Spurn (being well outside my two hour rule) but if ever I'm back in Yorkshire I'll be sure to pay another visit as this one gave me a lifer and four year ticks. The only disappointment was that I arrived just after a Little Bunting had been ringed and released.

Year list now 254
Life list now 347

Sunday 28 September 2014

London Nightjar

We headed down to Dunge this morning hoping to find some migrants etc.
Arriving at 7am we headed for the sea where it was bright and calm which obviously meant the birds were not great. We picked up a Kittiwake, some Gannets, Sandwich and Comic Terns along with the usual gulls.
What appeared to be a juvenile Yellow-legged was also on the beach roost and a Seal popped it's head up out by the buoy.
House Sparrow
Moving quickly to the bushes between the lighthouse and the bird observatory we located stacks of Chiffchaff and good numbers of Blackcap. A Common Whitethroat popped up and we found a couple of Black Redstart in the cottage garden. Raven flew over along with Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.
Mipits were being caught in the traps and the volume of Pied Wags had risen but little else was noted here.

Black Redstart
Along the track to the reserve we found Wheatear, Whinchat, Stonechats, Lesser Whitethroats and a Marsh Harrier. As the Harrier came over eleven Snipe were flushed and flew over with Curlew.

Marsh Harrier

At Galloways we found a pair of Whinchat more Stonechats and another Wheatear.
On the drive home news broke of a Nighjar showing at Middlesex Filter Beds so we stopped off to take look. We parked in the Nature reserve car park on Lea Bridge road at Essex Filter Beds and walked along the side of the river. As we entered Middlesex Filter Beds we could see a small gathering and were quickly and enthusiastically put onto the bird. Jim had taken his scope and lot's of Sunday strollers enjoyed great views of the little guy roosting. He woke a couple of times looked at the gathering, shuffled to get comfortable and then went back to sleep. A very nice bird to see during the day beating my previous night time experiences with these wonderful birds.

Nightjar in London
Hackney Marsh......not where you'd expect to find a Nightjar!

A decent day with some good birds seen well even if no ticks were made today.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Gulling at Cromer

Leggy juvenile
A real brute in every sense of the word


So a short stop at Cromer this morning gave me a gull list of Caspian, Yellow-legged, Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Common and Black-headed  I would suggest anybody with a little spare time in North East Norfolk take the time to visit the boat ramp area east of the pier and just wait for the gulls to come and go there.

I also stopped at Winterton on the way home too but couldn't find the Greenish Warbler although did get a very short possible view and heard what I thought was a Firecrest but my hearing is less reliable these days so I couldn't be sure.
I did see four Stonechat and two Wheatear on the walk down and back though.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Back for more Barred

I just had to visit the Barred Warbler at Gramborough Hill again today and it didn't let me down.
The bird showed really well with a supporting cast of two Yellow-browed Warblers. Dominic M. turned up and enjoyed the warbler before telling me he was heading off for a Long-tailed Skua reported on the sea at Cley so I went with him but despite arriving within minutes of the news we both missed the bird. A short sea watch followed where we had both Arctic and Great Skua along with Manx Shearwater, Red-throated Divers, Auks, Gannets and Brents all moving through but we failed to find the Long-tail. Dominic left to search for the Olive-backed Pipit whilst I returned to the Barred to see if the light had improved. I took a couple more shots and then continued my sea watch from Salthouse where I was lucky to be put on first Little Gull, then Arctic Tern followed by a flying Long-tailed Skua much to my delight.

Barred and Blackberry
Barred Warbler
A Seal carcase was attracting the attention of several Great Black-backed Gulls and both Sandwich and Common Tern moved along the shoreline.  More Shearwaters went distantly past but remained just Shearwater SP. on my list. I moved onto Cromer where I bumped into Dominic again as we looked for the confiding Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls only to dip on both before moving on to Sheringham where a 1940's celebration day was in full swing with hoards of people dressed up in the uniforms of the day and all enjoyed the fly by of a Spitfire.

It's 1940 again!

Next stop was Brancaster Staithe where I had a fly over Spoonbill, Blackwits, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Turnstones.


Year list now 250

Saturday 20 September 2014

Barred Warbler and Olive-backed Pipit

After breakfast today we made the short journey to the coast and parked up at the coast guards hut at Cley.
For some strange reason I had decided that today would be a good day to walk to Blakeney point which for those that don't know is a long shingle spit that has a good record for attracting migrants. I walked the shingle bank for what seemed like miles. On the sea I had a few groups of Brent Geese pass with a small group of Common Scoter. An Arctic Skua came quite close to chase the Common & Sandwich Terns and I also had a few Gannets fishing close in.

The walk to Blakeney Point reveals more than a few birds
Lobster pots
Fishing kit
Arctic Skua at Blakeney
On the beach were lot's of Wheatear and Meadow Pipit along with a few Reed Bunting and Siskin.
Single Blackbird and Song Thrush also passed through with some Chaffinch and a few Siskins.
The Pallid Harrier of yesterday failed to show and despite good conditions no "good" birds were found.

Next stop was Salthouse where I parked along beach road (with the car park still a pile of shingle following the storm damage) and made the short walk east to Gramborough Hill where I found a couple of familiar faces (John and Barry) already on site and they reported that both the Barred warbler and Yellow-browed warbler had just shown very well. After a couple of minutes I was also enjoying good views of both birds and this Barred is a whopper!
I enjoyed watching the bird with the gathered group and then decided I would move to the far side and hope that the bird would show at some point in what little light I could find to help the camera and to my delight after a while the bird came out and gave me a real show (makes up for the six hours so far this year looking at bushes waiting for Barred to show) After this exclusive display I left and had lunch with Suzanne and walked Tia before a short stop at Wells where I again bumped into John & Barry who'd put in several hours by now looking for the reported Olive-backed Pipit. As I approached I could see the gathered twitchers getting excited and sure enough I was on the target before I'd even said hello. the bird was feeding along a small sandy path within the trees and showed quite well but in the darkness of the trees so I left the camera in the bag.

Barred Warbler
Barred Warbler....what a brute!
What a cracking bird!

A little shopping in Wells followed before returning to the cottage for the evening.

Year list now at 249

Friday 19 September 2014

Brilliant Burnham

With the wife feeling a bit under the weather we have taken a weekend away and find ourselves staying in a lovely old Chapel in North Norfolk which is handy :)

Pumpkins fields in Norfolk
Our day started with the two hour drive north and a visit to Titchwell with Suzanne and Tia.
A walk along the sea path gave us terrific prolonged views of a family group of Bearded Tits. The reserve was holding good numbers of waders with Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper the best of the bunch.

We headed back to the car and after a coffee stop at Brancaster Staithe we headed for Burnham Overy where I made the long walk to the dunes but boy was the walk ever worth it.
First bush at the end of the board walk held a stunning Yellow-browed Warbler that was seen very well and heard calling too. Three Red-breasted Flycatchers were feeding in the bushes along with a smart male Common Redstart. A garden Warbler showed well with two Lesser Whitethroat, a Common Whitethroat, a pair of Blackcap and a few Reed Bunting. The walk to the pines gave up another two Red-breasted Flycatcher, several Wheatear, a female Redstart and more Garden Warblers before the jewel in the crown with a stunning Barred Warbler. Birding doesn't get much better than this!

Barred Warbler
Red-breasted Flycatcher

The walk back delivered more views of these birds along with a couple of large tit flocks and a party of Siskin.

A fabulous day and with more gloomy weather forecast I reckon tomorrow will deliver a few more delights.

Oh and the Chapel we're staying in is great too!

The Bedroom
The Living room

Year list now at 248

Sunday 14 September 2014

Pec Sand at Minsmere

We set off this morning hoping to connect with the Barred Warbler that's spent the last few days at Thorpness but after over 2 hours at the site we had no sign of the visitor so headed off to Minsmere and then we walked a couple of miles to the pool where the Pec Sandpiper had been reported  on but this time on our arrival we quickly picked the bird out feeding on the muddy banks.
A few distant record shots where taken and we spent a while watching this bright juvenile bird before news came out that the Thorpness Barred Warbler had been seen again. We headed back over to Thorpness but again drew a big fat blank and where left with question marks over the reported sighting????

Pectoral Sandpiper at Minsmere
Pec Sand

Saturday 13 September 2014

Parakeets on the beech

A visit to Dad this morning gave me an opportunity to catch a few shots of his Parakeets that have decided they want to remove every single Beech nut from the trees hanging over his garden.
The Ring-necked Parakeets are now officially classed as pests in the UK since their introduction back in the 1950's but I for one still like to see them around although it would be nice to turn the volume down at times.
PS: No apology for the use of the homophone!

Ring-necked Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet 
Ring-necked Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet