Monday, 25 May 2015

Stints at Broom and a Shrike at Fairlop...not a bad bank holiday!

Muntjac Deer at Fowlmere
An early dart up the A1 to Broom this morning and my first trip to Gypsy Lane where I parked up to view the pits left by the gravel extractions. (A great patch if it's to be managed to keep the scrapes dry) Luckily a couple of birders were already on site and even luckier was the fact that they had the Temmink's Stints in view so I hastily joined them with my scope and enjoyed good views of the little crackers before scoping the other end of the pits to find the Little Stint. Great little waders and nice to see them together (ish) to compare etc.
Temminck's Stint
Little Stint (The Magners bottle giving some scale)
With a tip off that Fowlmere RSPB was on my way home and had Turtle Dove on site I headed off in that direction and found a tidy little reserve on farmland with the added bonus of some reedbed too. Hares danced around in the fields and a Muntjac was seen too before I heard the purring of a Turtle Dove. I struggled to see the bird but a walk along the boardwalk delivered at least three more calling birds and good but distant views of two birds perched up in dead trees. A Marsh Harrier was present (they have bred here in the past) and a Bank Vole was seen before I left for home.

Hare at Fowlmere
So with a good couple of hours squeezed in this morning I'm sitting at home and news breaks of a male Red-backed Shrike being found at Fairlop ten minutes up the road. A quick call to let the Jims know I'm going and we're all on site in no time. Not quite sure of the birds location we wander around the back of the Lagoon and we're surprised to find no birders on site. The habitat looked great for Shrike so we started to scan and it was one of those rare moments when the old fella pulled it out of the bag spotting the target in the mid distance. We enjoyed a few minutes with it and managed a couple of record shots in the company of Dick J and Martin B.  Let's hope the bird roosts and gives more people the chance to catch up with's a stunner!

Red-backed Shrike at Fairlop Waters
Red-backed Shrike at Fairlop

Year list now 235

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A little of the Little Bittern at Lakenheath RSPB

I took a drive up to Lakenheath today with my girls and walked out to Joist Fen where a small gathering was present waiting for the Little Bittern to show. It did make a brief flight from one side of the wash pool but otherwise kept itself in deep reed cover although it would bark out it's song at regular intervals to keep the small twitch enthused. The Cranes came out to show off their chick and Marsh Harriers carried out the occasional food pass. Bitterns boomed, Cuckoos cuckooed and the Bearded Tits pinged away. A Kingfisher hovered over the pool to cap off a decent visit before I moved up the road to Weeting Heath. I paid the entry fee and walked to West hide where I quickly discovered a pair of Firecrest feeding high up in the Ivy clad trees to the right of the hide. At the crossroad leading to the hide a Spotted Flycatcher was seen and from the hide both Stone Curlew and Woodlark showed well but at distance. A pair of Blackcap and Treecreeper entertained from the car park with the Treecreepers feeding young behind the sign on the visitor centre wall.

Another decent day in Suffolk but with the birds distant and the light really poor the camera wasn't really used today.

A few more images from yesterdays day out in Suffolk.......


Year list now at 331

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Broad-billed Sandpiper at Tinker's Marsh Suffolk

We set off this morning aiming for a good days birding at Minsmere with one eye on the Broad-billed Sandpiper seen yesterday at Tinkers Marsh. First stop was Dunwich Heath where we quickly scored with several Dartford Warblers from the footpath and a fine looking Stonechat. As we drove back to Minsmere the pager informed us that the Broad-billed Sandpiper had been seen so we turned around and headed five miles north to Southwold parking up at the end of the harbour road. We walked 100 yards to Baileys bridge then headed west along the river for over a mile to find three other birders on site looking at what was to become another lifer for us. The bird showed really well coming to feed at the front of the pool with several Dunlin and three Sanderling. On the next pool we enjoyed good scope views of three Curlew Sandpipers and picked up a Caspian Gull too for another tick.

Broad-billed Sandpiper
Broad-billed Sandpiper with Dunlin
Back at Minsmere we walked out to the sea picking up Lesser Whitethroat and Bearded Tits along the way. At sea I picked up a single Little Tern moving fast along the tide line before we reached East Hide and quickly found the splendid summer plumaged Red-necked Phalarope. Jimmy located a single Med Gull here too and I picked up two Sandwich Terns flying through to give the Jims a year tick.
We walked the reserve and had good views of Cetti's Warbler and Bittern before reaching Bittern hide where we plotted up for a while. From here we enjoyed really good views of upto six Bittern both in flight and feeding in the pools. Two Marsh Harrier and a couple of Hobby entertained too.

Bittern in a twist
Bittern from Bittern hide Minsmere
Sand Martin
Swallow at Southwold
Swallow at the sluice
A really enjoyable day in Suffolk bagging a lifer and several year ticks too.
The day list totalled 95 so all in all a very productive outing.

Life list now at 359 and year list now at 228

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven Hampshire

We opted for Hampshire this morning in search of a lifer. News was good yesterday so we took the plunge and made the 114 mile trip to Titchfield this morning some five months after the bird was first reported so hardly a twitch worthy of the word. We arrived at the reserve at 7.30am to find it didn't open until 9.30am so instead made the short drive to the other side of the reserve where access could be got to the scrape known as Posbrook Flood. We walked about half a mile to find just a few Swans and ducks on the flood stopping along the way for a Roe Deer and Water Vole.

Water Vole Titchfield Haven
Water Vole
Water Vole
Fox at Titchfield Haven
I think he was thinking of dinner!
Back at the reserve for 9.30am we paid the £4 entry fee and marched along the main road to access the rear hides leading to the North Scrape which is the birds favoured place or so they say. As we approached the hide a Fox posed for the camera and from the hide we had Med Gulls, Avocet and Lapwing with chicks. The bulk of the birds being breeding Black-headed Gulls. A Cuckoo called and flew over along with Swallows and Martins and the usual Warblers were very evident. (Sedge, Reed and Cetti's) High tide was due at 11.05am and we thought that would bring in the bird. At 10.45am a single Black-tailed Godwit dropped in and then at 10.53am the pager bleeped into life saying that the bird was viewable on North Scrape from the very hide we sat in. A debate then started in the hide as to who had put news out and where was said target before the pager bleeped again to correct the sighting this time saying viewable from Knights Bank hide. This meant a walk back to the main road, back along the road and as far as you could walk along the reverse side of the reserve which we all did at some pace to find the target walking about in the distance with a small group of Blackwits. Fantastic we had our lifer and we enjoyed good scope views before the heat haze appeared and made viewing more difficult.

On the way home we dropped into Acres Down where we picked up a nice Wood Warbler and male Redstart.  A good days birding with the Jims and I can't wait for the next one.

Year list now at 221 and life list now at 358

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Although the birdwatching is great in Scotland the scenery is worth the trip alone and I'd highly recommend a  visit. The west coast is just magical, the scale is something to behold, the mountains, the rivers, the moorland, the snow and of course the Lochs.

Strontian view over Ariundle
The Findhorn valley

Loch Garten
Loch clouds
Iona beach
Laggan Dam
Signs that the weather can sometimes win in the Highlands

Monday, 11 May 2015

More birds from Scotland 2015

Other birds from the May 2015 Scotland trip 

Black Guillemot Fort William harbour
Black Guillemot
Corncrake on Iona LIFER!
Hen Harrier on Mull
Osprey on Mull
Whimbrel at  Ardnamurchan
Gannet at Kilchoan
Great Northern Diver at Lochaline
Manx Shearwater Ardnamurchan point
Corncrake on Iona
Meadow Pipit at Kilchoan
Red Grouse Lochindorb
Rock Pipit Strontian
Wheatear at Kilchoan


In Strontian where we stayed we enjoyed superb wildlife in the garden and the nature reserve next to our garden fence (Ariundle). We had Loch Sunart on our door step too and of course the road along the Ardnamurchan peninsular.

Of course I grabbed a few images to capture some memories of the wildlife.

Grey Heron Loch Sunart Strontian Bay
Mistle Thrush in the garden
Otters in Loch Sunart Strontian
Three Otters playing on the shore of Loch Sunart
Red Deer in the garden Strontian
Red Deer resting just outside the garden
Song Thrush
Whinchat (a brief visitor to the garden)
Wheatear and Stonechat in the garden
Roe Deer visited the garden during our stay