Wednesday 26 November 2014

Isabelline Wheatear in Cleveland

Work took me to Yorkshire on Monday and what luck that was with an Isabelline Wheatear deciding to drop onto the beach at Seaton Snook on the Sunday. Thankfully the bird found food and hung around for me. Arriving on the beach to find around fifty other interested birders with the bird performing well along the tide line in front of them all. I sneaked further up the tide line to position the sun behind me as most of the guys were shooting directly into the sun. Sure enough after a short wait the bird made it's way along the tide line and gave me a solo show just a few feet in front of me and what a little super star it was.

Isabelline Wheatear Seaton Snook Cleveland
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear at Seaton Snook

The Twitch for the Isabelline Wheatear
I would usually have needed to let this little cracker pass with my "soft" two hour rule but once again a work do provided the route to bagging the lifer as it had earlier this year with the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Whilst away I had the opportunity to do a little cley pigeon shooting and falconry being allowed to fly both Eagle Owl and a stunning Bateleur Eagle. The falconry centre also held Golden Eagle, Goshawk, Steppe Eagle, Peregrine, Harris Hawk etc. Although I obviously prefer my raptors flying free it was nice to get up close to some of these magnificent birds.

Bateleur Eagle
The bedroom at the Consiton

The view from my bedroom.
Life list now 351
year list now 265

Sunday 16 November 2014

Wallasea Island Harriers and Owls

I spent more time at Wallasea Island in Essex this morning with my good lady hoping for some action from both the Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls. Arriving around 8.30am it was very grey and the reserve was clouded in mist. I parked up and waited as the sun tried and failed to break through but eventually we were treated to our first Harrier of the morning as a young Marsh Harrier flew by. A ring-tail then woke and joined the party as it hunted the fields before being joined by a second Ring-tail and then a pair of Marsh Harriers. I spotted a single Short-eared Owl but it dropped back into the grass as quickly as it had risen. Another Shortie then came up in the distance to mob a harrier before another two also came up so at least four on site. Another was seen hunting the far ridge with a Hen Harrier for company before yet another came up flying close to the road but again quickly returned to the deck. A Sparrow-hawk was seen sitting out on the reserve along with three Kestrels and the place is alive with Corn Bunting and Skylark which I suppose helps attract all the raptors.

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier, Heron and a Common Crane!
Two for the price of one
Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting
Corn Buntings
pair of Corn Buntings

The place is becoming my winter wonderland and I think I'll be spending a bit more time here in the coming weeks.


Sunday 9 November 2014

Rough-legged Buzzard at Hay Lane

A local trip with the wife this morning rewarded me with some time spent in the company of the juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard that's decided Hay Lane in Hertfordshire looks a good place to winter.
The bird didn't show for a while but by mid morning was seen to fly in and settle on top of a bush giving really good scope views. A couple of Red-Kites then drifted over and that was all the Buzzard needed and it quickly joined in soaring overhead before hovering and then drifting off back over the valley.
Common Buzzard then joined the party and it proved a good morning trip before a stop at the local farm shop which I can recommend. (I think it was called Pearce's.)

Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Common Buzzard
Red Kite
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard hovering!

Saturday 8 November 2014

Surf's Up and a Desert Storm

With a rare Saturday off work I picked up the Jims and we worked our way up the A11 arriving in North Norfolk for about 8am. First stop was Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham where we walked along the boardwalk and across the beach to the waters edge. (A very long, boggy walk) We found a small group of Common Scoter and several divers plus a single Red-necked Grebe, Gannets dived and an Arctic Skua came through. Sanderling marched along the tide line and a single Grey Phalarope flew along quite close in. Both Razorbill and Guillemot were in the bay then I found a second raft of Scoter to the far west of the bay. This raft held both Velvet and the main target of the day a stunning drake Surf Scoter which gave me my 350th Lifer so the long walk was well worth it.

Desert Wheatear Suffolk

Desert Wheatear Norfolk
We left happy having bagged the lifer and then searched the pines for the reported Pallas's warbler but despite hearing a very likely bird we couldn't be 100% sure it was the target and it certainly was going to show itself. Freshmarsh held a massive group of Pink-footed Geese and the noise they made was amazing. Hunting over the marsh were Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common and Rough-legged Buzzard. We moved on to Burnham Overy were we quickly found Common Buzzard before I located a pair of Rough-legged  Buzzard hunting over the distant dunes. One bird moved off but the other hunted for 30 minutes or more giving terrific scope views as it showed off both it's back and underwing for us.

Desert Wheatear in Links Road car park Suffolk
Desert Wheatear in a desert storm at Gorleston on sea. Norfolk
Desert Wheatear

Rough-legged Buzzard at Burnham Overy's there honest!

Last point of call was Gorleston near Yarmouth were after parking up at the pier we walked south and quickly spotted a small group of birders on the beach. On arrival it was clear they had the bird in their sites and as we got nearer we were delighted to find the bird showing like all Desert Wheatears seem to do as it sat in a drainage pipe but kept coming out to grab a meal often running out to within inches of the birders before dashing back to the sea wall. The wind was really blowing and kicked up a real sand storm which took the edge off the experience a little as we left covered in sand although the Wheatear must have felt at home. On the way home we made a very quick stop at Links Road car park Lowestoft where we enjoyed even more ridiculous views of another Desert Wheatear. Messages had been put out saying view from a reasonable distance so we walked along the sea wall passing the three birders with the bird and set up about twenty feet behind them. To our amazement the bird flew along the wall and sat so close I had to back away to be able to focus with my 400mm fixed length lens. These birds have absolutely no fear of man.

Life list now 350

Year list now 264