Sunday 28 February 2016

More images from the weekend

Well February is all but over and although I've managed a respectable 173 ticks in two months I can't believe there's no Mistle Thrush on the list yet along with a few other commons but if you haven't seen it you haven't seen it and that's the way of it.

So here's to March and a host of spring migrants and hopefully some exciting vagrants.

Hawfinch at Parkend in the Forest of Dean

Penduline Tits at Horsebere Pool
Glaucous Gull at Dunge
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull

Glaucous Gull Dungeness

Saturday 27 February 2016

Penduline Tits at Horsebere Pool Gloucester

We set off this morning around the London Orbital and up the M4 stopping at 8am to collect "an insurance" tick with the female Hooded Merganser. (You just never know) Adding this to the Radipole bird to increase our chances of having a reasonable chance of removing the words "pending" from the year/life list against this much debated species.

Hooded Merganser (Plastic or the real deal?)
After a brief spell watching the duck and a pair of Grebes carrying out their mating ritual which is always good to watch we headed off up the M4 towards our targets at Horsebere Pool Gloucester.
After another hour in the car we pulled into the layby opposite the Premier Inn and could see a small gathering of birders surrounding the small pool. We walked the very short distance and straight away found the two Penduline Tits feeding with a group of Reed Bunting and Long-tailed Tits for company. A couple of Chiffchaff hawked the lower fringes of the reeds and an Egret spooked the roosting Snipe which took off high and there must have been at least sixty birds possibly more. By far the largest group of Snipe I've ever seen.

Penduline Tits
Our next stop was New Fancy viewpoint being only half an hour away. We parked and climbed the ramp to find the platform full. After a couple of minutes we were looking at a pair of Goshawks displaying high then low in the tree line giving fantastic views before one settled in a tree to allow great scope views. More views of birds soaring over the tree tops before another decided to come that bit closer to display for us and then sit in another tree. Our best views to date of Goshawks. Raven and Buzzard also showed well here but the memory of those displaying Gos's will live long.

Just around the corner from the view point we found Parkend Church and parked up to view a pair of Common Crossbill before taking some time to find Hawfinch at the cricket pitch area down the road.

Hawfinch "at the cricket pitch"
All in all a great days birding spoilt only by the need to clock up so many miles to get the views we did of this splendid collection of birds.

Year list now 173

Friday 26 February 2016

Glaucous Gull at Dungeness

A few pics of the star bird down at Dunge.

A whopper of a gull dwarfing the Herring gulls and even giving the Great black-backs a run for biggest brute in town.

Throw in Firecrest in the trapping area, Slav Grebes on New Diggings and a few Beardies and you have a decent days birding but the real prize belongs to the Glauc which would be well worth the trip if it was the only bird on the reserve.

Year list now 168

Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull at Dunge
Glaucous Gull at Dungeness
A token Turnstone!

Saturday 13 February 2016

Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves

We headed up the A11 this morning with our first stop being Lackford Lakes. A walk around gave good views of several Kingfishers for my first year tick of the day. Scanning from the various well placed hides we found plenty of Grebes and ducks including several pairs of Goldeneye but we struggled to find the reported Long-tailed Duck until Jimmy pulled it out of the bag on our way out and we watched her diving for a while before making our way out with two year ticks in the bag.

Grey Grey Shrike

Making our way up to Grimes Graves we parked up at the entrance gate and walked down to the meadow where we scanned for about an hour before finding the wintering Great Grey Shrike but it was worth the walk and the wait.  So three year ticks in a morning and lot's of other good birds seen along the way too.

Year list now 165


Friday 12 February 2016

Return to the Hinksford Hoopoe

Another work trip and another long drive up to West Yorkshire broken by a little birding and where better to make that break than Hinksford to spend more time with the wintering Hoopoe.
A supporting cast of Bullfinch, Mipits and a Green Woodpecker made for an enjoyable trip. Further north I added year ticks with Red Grouse on the moor and a Dipper from the car park at Bolton Abbey.

I dropped into Wanlip Meadow but failed to find the reported Long-billed Dowitcher so that another notch on this years increasing dip list.

Year list now 162

Hoopoe at Hinksford
The Hinksford Hoopoe
A real star bird of this winter.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Suffolk / Norfolk tick success

I picked Jim up at 6am and headed up the A12 into Suffolk for first light leaving the old man keeping his sofa warm. We arrived at North Warren and started scanning from the raised ditch area. Plenty of Barnacle, White-fronted and Greylag Geese were found in the distance before we eventually found a couple of Bean Geese in with the crowd. A fox patrolled the waters edge and had an interesting interaction with a passing Marsh Harrier. Lot's of Wigeon, Snipe and Lapwing here along with Skylark. Four Spoonbill were reported from the south end of the marsh but we left without seeing them.

Our next stop was in order to connect with Dartford Warbler and they showed really well for us in a very brief stop. A Great-spotted Woodpecker gave me another year tick as we drove through Lesiton.

Dartford Warbler
We moved on to Blythburgh and joined a few other birders on the causeway bridge. We scanned the distant Teal and found the Green-winged bird among them clearly showing it's nasal ring. Lot's of Dunlin, Redshank, Knot and Oystercatcher were present here and gave a good display and they searched for suitable feeding areas. As we continued to move up the A12 we passed through Lowestoft and couldn't resist a quick stop to watch the Purple Sandpipers at Ness Point (The most Easterly point of the UK). Three birds performed for us and a further four flew by. Red-throated Diver were on the move off shore.
Back on the road we made our next stop at Winterton where a longer than expected walk north from the car park eventually rewarded us with a group of thirty or so Snow Bunting and a couple of Sanderling. Skylarks sang and Red-throated Diver continued to be seen moving south.

Snow Buntings at Winterton
We jumped back in the car and headed towards the north Norfolk coast stopping first at Wells where the Shag was quickly added to the year list. At Holkham Hall we walked out to the lake and after walking from the north to the south and back again we found two Scaup and a Fudge duck for our trouble. A hybrid "fudged" duck is also present along with large numbers of Tufted, Wigeon and Shoveler. Egyptian and Greylag geese are present and a single Pintail was seen. The park has lot's of Redwing feeding under the trees and the usual deers are always a welcome sight.


Barn Owl
A Barn Owl delayed our route from Holkham to Brancaster but after a few shots rain stopped play and the Owl took flight to head back to it's barn. At Brancaster we were put on the Red-necked Grebe by the locals and had brief views of the waders on display namely Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercathcher, Barwit, Turnstone and Ringed Plover before making our exit in an attempt to find our way to Roydon for another shot at the Pallid Harrier. This bird has proved problematic to us with six trips to Flitcham all resulting in zero sightings. With news that it is now being seen at roost on Roydon Common we headed there arriving at around 3.45pm to find the car park bursting and as we walked out onto the heath fifty or so birders lined the footpath ahead of us. We joined them to find the Pallid Harrier hunting in the distance giving us a tenth year tick for the day. The Pallid Harrier was lost to view before appearing right over our heads and then hunting below us with a couple of ringtails. To cap the day off the bird then decided to sit on a post for us giving fantastic scope views and one of those Chris Packham thigh rubbing moments.

Pallid Harrier

A text to the sofa hugging one just saying BOOM! finished a great days birding East Anglia.