Sunday 31 January 2016

No Stone unturned

A visit to Dungeness today in search of the Glaucous Gull proved a challenging day.
Rain and grey skies combined to make the trip difficult coupled with a diesel drama and then a flat battery the odds of success were not good. We searched the shingle picking out a small group of Turnstone to give the camera a short workout before adding a year tick with Razorbill amongst the many birds on the sea. At the power station we found another year tick when a Black Redstart popped up onto the fence before we returned to search again for the Glauc,

Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull "By the fishing boats" at Dungeness
Despite sitting it out at the roost until the last of the light we only managed to pull the Caspian Gull from the crowd and with no stone unturned we failed to find the large white winger we'd gone in search of today.

Year list at the end of January is 149

Tuesday 26 January 2016

More of the Cattle Egret at Iken

Cattle Egret
Enjoying lunch 
Cattle Egret at Iken in Suffolk
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret Iken Suffolk
Cattle Egret
Cow Egret

Sunday 24 January 2016

Cattle Egret at Iken

Cattle Egret at Iken
We set off this morning in the general direction of Suffolk so M25/A12 and with the journey taking less time than planned I took the Jims to Christchurch Park Ipswich to kill some time. We enjoyed good views of a Tawny Owl sitting in an old Oak in the half light of a grey morning before taking in decent views of four Goosander and a few Mandarin on the park pools. I'd like to return here with the camera on a brighter day.

Tawny Owl
Next stop was Alton Water where we quickly located two Black-necked Grebe and went off to search for Red-necked Grebe. Sadly the Red-neck gave us the slip but we did find another Black-necked and a Great Northern Diver. The waters also held large numbers of Great-crested Grebe but little else of note.

Black-necked Grebe
We moved on driving another 25miles to Iken in search of Cattle Egret where after a short scan of the fields around Sandy Lane we eventually found the target in the farm itself feeding well amongst the cattle. We enjoyed watching it feed for a while from the entrance track to the farm until it was flushed as the farmer walked by. As we drove out we found the bird again on a small pool at the end of Sandy Lane and it would have been rude not to grab another couple of images with the water adding to the picture.

Cattle and Egret
Cattle Egret
Our last stop was at North Warren and from the new raised screen we found the four Spoonbill for another year tick.

Spoonbill at North Warren

Year list is now 147

Saturday 23 January 2016

Bittern at Fishers Green

After work today I headed around the north circular and up the A41 with the Scaup at Startop End my target bird. As I travelled up the A41 a Red Kite flew over to give me a year tick before arriving at the reservoir to bag the target bird which I did with ease. A Grey Wagtail entertained and the water was full of Tufted and Pochard along with a few Cormorant and Black-headed Gull. A single Lesser Black-backed was present and good numbers of Great Crested Grebe.

I moved on to Wilstone and found a couple of Goldeneye keeping the Shoveler company here but little else of note save another Red Kite.

At College Lake a Red-crested Pochard added another year tick before I left to take up vigil in the Bittern Hide at Fishers Green where a Cetti's Warbler, Water Rail and a couple of Muntjac kept me amused whilst I waited for the Bittern to show which it duly did. Back at the car and a Blackcap made an appearance giving me tick 142 of 2016.

Bittern at Lea Valley
Cettis Warbler
Goldeneye at Wilstone

Sunday 17 January 2016

Golden Pheasant at Wolferton FINALLY!

We headed up to Norfolk again this morning in a miserable attempt to get the old man a life tick on the Pallid Harrier at Flitcham. This was our sixth visit and we've given around twenty hours to this bird (or should I say this lack of bird). Needless to say despite arriving at first light this was to be another day when the bird chose not to show. We witnessed some good birds whilst waiting and these included Merlin, Buzzard, Barn Owl, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Brambling and Tree Sparrow. Feeling the chill we diverted from the vigil to try our luck with the Wolferton Triangle and this time got lucky when the Golden Pheasant came out to play. The light was poor in the narrow lane but I managed to catch the moment with a couple of (dull) images.

Golden Pheasant
Pure Gold!
Returning to Flitcham we found a few Redwing for another year tick but the Pallid obviously didn't fancy the cold weather and kept itself hidden all day. On the journey south we stopped to check the fields around Welney to add Whooper and Bewick's Swans to the year list.

The year list now stands at 136

Saturday 16 January 2016

Short-eared Owls at Rainham Marsh

I hadn't been to Rainham this year but took a stroll this afternoon after work and enjoyed good views of at least four Shorties from the Serin Mound in nice bright (but cold) weather. Kestrels entertained whilst waiting for the Owls too.  A couple of Snipe were flushed by the hunting Owls and other raptors included three Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. A Raven was seen over Wennington Marsh and the hill was alive with Linnet, Reed Bunting, Pipits and Skylark.

I'd had a Grey Wagtail at work in the morning and added to the Little Owl in Lambourne End on Thursday the year list has nudged up to 132.

Short-eared Owl at Rainham
Hunting Owl at Rainham Marsh

Sunday 10 January 2016

Shorelark at Minster in Kent

We headed back into Kent this morning and watched the Marsh Harriers leave the roost at Capel Fleet in the early light. No Hen Harriers or Owls were seen today but a few Kestrel and Common Buzzard made interesting birding. The Corn Buntings were in the usual area and a few distant Grey Geese appeared to have White-fronts with them.

Moving on we visited the Swale NNR and after a bumpy drive down the water logged track we walked a windy sea wall out towards the hide. Whilst between the first and second bend we had the wintering Richard's Pipit fly up over our heads calling to give a year tick. A walk further down gave good views of a large group of White-fronted Geese and several hundred Brents. A male Hen Harrier was reported but not seen during our visit. I picked up the Hooded Crow in flight before Jimmy managed to find it on the ground allowing good scope views. On the reserve we found a gathering of Knot and I had a group of Golden Plover in flight. On our walk back we picked up a fine Merlin in flight and it too obliged by sitting up and allowing time to get the scope on it. Just as we approached the car park the Pipit then flew up again and this time I managed to follow it to the ground and again we enjoyed great scope views. Skylark was an additional year tick whilst here.

From the Swale we drove the short distance to Minster and parked in the Barton Point CP car park.
A short walk along the shingle beach soon had us looking at Shorelark and a group of roosting Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Turnstone for our trouble too. We watched the Lark for a while before leaving for a whistle stop drive along the Elmley Track where we saw yet more Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzards but wader numbers were very low save the odd Lapwing.

A decent morning in Kent with the year list now sitting at 128

Shorelark at Bartons Point Minster 
Shorelark at Minster 
Common Buzzard at Elmley
Lapwing at Elmley
White-fronted Geese (and a couple of Greylags)
Marsh Harrier on a kill home to find Siskin and Lesser Redpoll on the garden feeders with the usual Gold and Greenfinch group.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Lynford Hawfinch

I decided on an early trip to Lynford to find Hawfinch for the year list today but diverted first to dip AGAIN the Pallid Harrier, Iceland Gull and Golden Pheasant.

On the journey we enjoyed some good views of at least eight Barn Owl with one particular bird sitting out for the camera and with very limited light we tried to grab some half decent images from the comfort of the car.

Barn Owl Sandringham
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Barn Owl Flitcham
Barn Owl Flitcham
Barn Owl Sandringham
At Lynford Jimmy spotted a single Hawfinch in the paddock trees and we managed to get the scope set up to view for a minute or two before it moved on. We enjoyed watching the Tits and Finches taking food from the bridge where we also found both Treecreeper and Nuthatch for year ticks.

Female Blackbird at Lynford
Canada Geese bathing at Lynford
Coal Tit at Lynford
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit at Lynford
Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit
Nuthatch at Lynford
A brief stop at Connaught Waters gave another tick in the form of several pairs of Mandarin Duck and it was also good to see a pair of Goosander on the lake. On the journey home I had views of a Green Woodpecker and added to the single tick of my working week (Ring-necked Parakeets in Theydon) my year list has now moved to 121.

Mandarin Duck at Connaught Water

Peregrines at Kings Lynn Docks