Wednesday 30 November 2016

Red Kites at Harewood

Another work trip and another stop off on route at Harewood to enjoy the Red Kites that form part of the Yorkshire release project. The Kites were first introduced back in 1999 and now thankfully have a very healthy breeding population.

I only had an hour or so on site but managed some very acceptable shots in that short window of opportunity with the birds performing well in good light for a change.

Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite
Red Kite at Harewood House
I'll post a few more later in the week.

These are amazing birds and It's fantastic to have them around again.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Harriers and Shorties!

My day started in gloomy weather at Wallasea this morning where four Marsh Harriers and a single Ring-tail Hen Harrier entertained me. With the Shorties staying down I headed off in search of a bit more light and found some in Cambridgeshire and the Short-eared Owls came out to play at this venue too.

A good day watching these magnificent winter predators relatively close to home.
To coin a phrase "I'll be back!"

Short-eared Owl
Hen Harrier at Wallasea
Shortie watching the Magpies
I see you!

Sunday 20 November 2016

Dungeness during storm Angus

Having seen the Mistley Tern last night the pressure to follow the crowds in that direction today was well and truly off so we headed instead down the M20 to Dunge and into the eye of the storm.

90 mph winds had battered the Kent coast and continued to do so while we attempted a short sea watch. Large groups of Scoter flew down and a couple of Divers, Kittiwake and Gannets were noted but little else as the waves continued to crash along the shingle beach. A couple of Turnstone and a single Sanderling kept us company around the fishing boats but a brief spell at the puddles delivered nothing out of the ordinary despite the quantity of Gulls being good.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

On the reserve we enjoyed good views of both the Catle Egret and Ring-necked Duck and on the approach road found four Bewick's Swans among a small group of Mutes.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck at Dungeness

Year list now 277 and I'm finally in front of last years total.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Forster's Tern at Mistley Essex

The story of life tick 380

Texts to Jimmy "Forster's Tern"   "Essex!"

Reply "You going?"

"YEP" " ok meet you in ten minutes"

So at 2.30pm this afternoon we were heading up the A12 hoping to beat the falling light and connect with what would be a lifer for all of us.

As we pulled into the Quay after the sixty mile drive only two other birders were present and news was that they last saw the bird two minutes ago but it had flown out over the dock. We scanned and were quickly joined by about thirty others including LGRE scanning the bay when we picked up the bird heading back in and managed to alert the gathering as the bird came in quite close before turning to head off to the right and out of view. This was to be our only sighting of the target although we waited until the light had vanished before heading home.

The first winter bird flew up river which I'm told means it's crossed the Essex Suffolk border so big news for the guy next to me looking for the Suffolk tick on it.

Yet another gift to land unexpectedly on the year/life list this autumn.

Year list now 276
Life list now 380

Forster's Tern last recorded in Essex in 1998 when one wintered in the West Mersea area.
Total British records I believe to be 57 with the vast majority in the west as you'd expect.

For photographs check out the RBA gallery   

Saturday 5 November 2016

Cliff Swallow at Minsmere

Whilst in Norfolk yesterday news came through of a Cliff Swallow showing at Minsmere. Time was against a Friday visit so I set off early this morning and negotiated a closed A12 to get to Minsmere just as the bird had gone missing. Two Hours went by without a sighting despite approx 100 birders set up on the hill above the Sand Martin bank by the visitor centre. I left for a call of nature and as I returned so did the Swallows and I was over the moon when I managed to pick out the Cliff Swallow amongst them. The bird settled on a small bush out on the Stone Curlews field before taking to the air to give a twenty minute show as it hawked back and forth along the field.

A nice unexpected tick with this being a bird that seldom makes our shores.

I'm sure there will be some nice images of the little guy but my record shots will remain in that box with the lid firmly closed as just that....record shots!

Year list now 275
Life list now 379

Cliff Swallow at Minsmere 
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow (top left..honest!)

Finding Waxwings in Norfolk

This week has seen a mini influx of Waxwings in Norfolk so with a rare day off work I picked up the Jims and headed north. We arrived at the Coastguards hut Cley for first light and I quickly picked out a single Little Auk flying West close into the shore line and managed to get the Jims on it for the old man to bag himself a lifer.

Red-throated Divers flew East steadily, two Long-tailed Ducks drifted along and a flock of Common Scoter contained a single Velvet which took flight before the Jims got involved. A Guillemot and two Razorbill added to the Auk count and Gannets were about in good number although quite distant. I picked out two Great Skuas and a couple of smaller distant Skuas. A single Fieldfare flew in off the sea and Grey seals hunted close in. Five drake Eider flew through giving the Jims another year tick.

We left Cley and decided to check the Burnham area for Waxwing eventually finding a flock of at least twenty birds in Burnham Norton. The light was terrible but we pulled out the camera anyway as you do when Waxwings are about.

Waxwing at Burnham Norton

With some noise/branches removed in PS
Last stop of the day was Titchwell. A quick Coffee and a long walk to the beach produced another tick for the Jims when three Velvet Scoter were picked up amongst the Common Scoters. Another long-tailed Duck and a couple of Mergansers drifted along here and wader numbers were good too with variety being key here.

Dunlin at Titchwell
Sanderling at Titchwell
Teal at Titchwell

Year list now 174
Wonderful Waxwing

Thursday 3 November 2016

Birthday presents

Yes I'm a year older and with some of the battles I've faced over the years each birthday is something to celebrate believe me.

So after answering a few text messages, opening a few presents (mostly bird related with a sprinkling of Springsteen) seeing my parents, eating cake and enjoying a garden tick when a Stock Dove dropped in for the first time I headed off in search of some birthday bird action.

Burwell Fen was my destination and the expected Short-eared Owl show didn't let me down with at least three birds showing well from about 2.30pm until dusk.

Short-eared Owl at Burwell Fen
Short-eared Owl
Short - eared Owl at Burwell Fen Cambridgeshire
Short-eared Owl....fabulous birds to watch!