Wednesday 25 November 2015

Red Kites at Harewood

Red Kites were re introduced to Yorkshire and specifically the Harewood Estate back in 1999 and this year Yorkshire held over a hundred breeding pairs.

I've been away with work again just north of Harrogate so just had to pop into Harewood to see if I could get lucky and see some Kites. On the drive up Monday I stopped in wet and grey weather and as I pulled into the car park at the Muddy Boot cafe I could see a Kite sitting in a tree and a couple circling over the car park too. I got the camera out but the light was dreadful so today on the way back down in great light I just had to stop again and wasn't disappointed.

Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite at Harewood Village Hall

Common Buzzard and Sprawk drifted over whilst both Grey and Pied Wagtail flitted about the car park.

I left for the long drive home but couldn't resist a stop at Burwell Fen on the way through Cambridge.
Here I enjoyed brief views of a Little Owl, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel before finding three Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl to round off a bit of a raptor fest.

To finish the day I watched a very large gathering of Starling display in a smart red sunset over the fen. Fantastic birding!

Roll on the weekend and a bit more action somewhere.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Spectacular Little Auk at Salthouse

I drove up to the North Nofolk coast this morning with my girls fearing that I'd probably missed the best of the action but hoping a few birds might still be on the move with the winds still coming in from the north.
Heavy snow fell on the drive up and gave the fields north of Thetford a good covering but by the time we hit Salthouse the snow had stopped. A brief sea watch (Auks, Scoters, Geese, Mergansers, RT Divers, Gannets and Gulls) was cut short with some nasty hard hitting hailstones and driving wind forcing me to take to the car for cover where my good lady had the coffee on as she watched me running back across the shingle.

Little Auk on Salthouse Pond
Warmed up we decided to take a drive around to Cley but as I pulled out of Beach Road I noticed what looked like a Little Auk on the Salthouse duck pond. I turned the car around and parked up to find the bird was indeed a Little Auk so grabbed the camera for a couple of quick shots. A group of birders had already put news out and another photographer managed a couple of shots before the bird took flight back out to sea. Then came the masses from Cley having seen the pager message but within a couple of minutes the opportunity was won and lost.....Right time right place!

Little Auk
Shot in bad light as it flew back out to sea.
Little Auk on the duck pond at Salthouse
Hearing news of a dead Auk found at Salthouse this morning I was pleased to see this little chap take to the skies and head back out to sea although I'm sure those responding to the pager would obviously have liked for it to linger a little longer.

The experience just underlines my blog header "if you get out there you just might see something"
It would have been easy to stay home bemoaning the weather today but my reward for getting out there is clear.

Year list now at 269

Saturday 14 November 2015

Crag Martin at the crooked spire in Chesterfield

This week saw Britain's tenth record of Eurasian Crag Martin with Derbyshire's first ever being found feeding around the crooked spire of the church in Chesterfield and the bird has become quite predictable and therefore "twitchable" so with this in mind we headed north this morning covering the 150 miles in two and a half hours (smashing my two hour rule) arriving on site around 8.20am. We waited with the twitch which was around two hundred or so strong but the bird didn't show and with dark clouds coming in some birders left at around 10.30am. At around 10.40am the bird finally flew in to be greeted by a loud cheer by those waiting, something I've not experienced on any twitch before but then I guess if you've waited a few hours (or years) to see one then you'd expect a little celebration when you finally do. The mood was lifted and the cameras came out in an attempt to catch record shots of the little belter as it darted around the spire.

My best efforts below....

Record shot of the Crag Martin
A lesson in framing a shot!
The crooked spire
Crag Martin......a blur!
And another blur!

A very difficult bird to find in the binoculars let alone catch on camera.

We watched the bird until 12.20pm and then headed back down the M1 in heavy rain arriving home at 3pm.

Life list now 366, Year list now 268   

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Pied Wheatear Landguard

With a half day planned at work for "shopping" with my good lady I was pleased to see reports of the Pied Wheatear at Landguard in Suffolk. Of course this changed my "shopping" plans and we headed up the A12 together in search of treasure.

Pied Wheatear
On arrival a small group of around twenty birders were quickly seen on the shingle in front of the observatory. I joined the group but as they moved off to "chase" the bird up the beach I stayed put with another guy and hoped the bird might decide to come back and join us. We watched as the bird flew up the beach across to the houses and back to the beach followed by most of the birders.

Eventually the little cracker did come back to us and we enjoyed great views before the twitch caught up and pushed the bird on again. We left and I hope the others did likewise to give the bird enough time and space to feed before roosting.

The bird was a cracking male and a lifer for me so I was absolutely delighted to have taken the half day and pleased my good lady allowed the swift change of plans too.

The Pied Wheatear has a range extending from South East Europe through Western Asia and migrates to Eastern Africa for the winter so in all probability this little cracker was trying to find Africa when it landed in not so sunny Suffolk. I'm told that we've had 73 accepted records of Pied Wheatear before this in Britain although there are a couple of records pending that may push this number up. This is only the third record for Suffolk but more importantly the first for me.

Life list now 365 Year list now 267

Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear