Friday 30 December 2016

Short eared Owls at Burwell Fen

Another visit to Burwell where at least thirteen Short-eared Owls performed well all afternoon.
Because there were a few about they called regularly and had a few interactions with each other and the local kestrels and crows.


Thursday 29 December 2016

Review of the year 2016

Looking back on 2016 it's been one of the best since I started birding and listing. Rarities have just kept on coming all year.

Black Duck at Strontian
My year list reached a reasonable 280 only five short of my best ever.
I crossed paths with a respectable 14 lifers (15 if Birt gets accepted) taking the life list to 381/2

Hooded Merganser  27th February in Wiltshire
Black Duck  27th April in Strontian Scotland
Iberian Chiffchaff 30th April in Telford
Rufous Turtle Dove  1st May in Otford Kent
Western Bonelli's Warbler 8th May on Gibraltar Point Lincs
Franklin's Gull  13th May at Abberton in Essex
Great-spotted Cuckoo 15th May at Portland in Dorset
Great Reed Warbler 17th May at Paxton in Cambs.
Western Swamphen 23rd September in Alkborough, Lincs
Radde's Warbler  9th October at Holkham in Norfolk
Siberian Accentor  16th October at Easington in Yorkshire
Cliff Swallow 5th November at Minsmere in Suffolk
Forster's Tern 19th November at Mistley in Essex
Blyth's Pipit 20th December at Blagdon in Somerset
The Blue Rock Thrush firmly on the pending list with fingers crossed for it.

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Blue Rock Thrush
The star bird was obviously the Siberian Accentor and the biggest dip was the Alpine Accentor at Gibraltar but we did pick up a Western Bonelli's on that day so all was not lost.

Siberian Accentor
I visited Scotland for a week in April and finally found the Black Duck
A day trip to Skomer was memorable and a winter break in Norfolk was a nice end to the year.

Puffin on Skomer
Snow Bunting at Salthouse
Close encounters included Hobby at Dungeness, Jack Snipe at Elmley, Baird's Sandpiper at Reculver, Black Guillemot at Oban, Great-spotted Cuckoo in Portland, Hoopoe in Hinksford, Cirl Bunting in Devon and of course the Snow Buntings in Norfolk.

Hobby at Dunge
Jack Snipe at Elmley
Best twitch would be the Cuckoo I think, nice place good crowd and a great bird and the worst this year would have to be the Turtle Dove, something about the urban twitch just isn't right but when you need to you need to as with the Blue Rock Thrush.

I missed a few easy yearticks again namely Nightjar, Quail, Ruddy Duck, Honey Buzzard, Grey Phalarope, Pom and Long-tailed Skua, Iceland Gull, and Common Redpoll. All birds I could and should have added. (would have given me my biggest year yet at 290) not to mention a few others I could have gone for. I hope the Pelican doesn't become a regret and the biggest miss was the Tawny Pipit at Dunge which I really should have seen.

Still no trip to Scilly so still missing the big three Shearwaters and the Wilsons Petrel.
maybe 2017...who knows?

I went for and dipped the White-crowned Sparrow in Cheshire missing it by minutes on-route home from Scotland and think that was the only dip of 2016 but I may be guilty of selective memory there?

Favourite pic is one of my notables from Birdguides...the Firecrest again taken at Dunge.

Firecrest at Dunge
Will I be year listing again in bet!
It takes you to places in search of year ticks but in the process you stumble on some great photo ops and like the Black Duck occasionally it delivers a lifer without the twitch and you just never know what you might encounter on the day. I'd like to get the 19 lifers I need for the 400 but guess I'll come up a bit short in all honesty and it may still be a couple of years away.

Time and money will as always play there part in my exploits but I look forward to starting again on what looks like a very wet January 1st....see you at Titchwell!

Thanks for reading my continued scribbles and best of luck to you and yours in 2017

Blue Rock Thrush at Stow on the Wold

After the Pond Heron anything's possible so Jim and I travelled the 100 miles to Stow on the Wold today to see the Blue Rock Thrush and it didn't disappoint. We parked in the small car park after a wait of ten minutes or so for a space, paid the £3 followed by 20p for the loo and a then made our way to the green via the donation bucket. (for the local hospice!)

Blue Rock Thrush
There were a couple of hundred birders on the green with news that the bird had been seen ten minutes ago. I wandered off leaving Jim on the green with the masses and after an hour found the bird on a chimney in Maugersbury Park and within a couple of minutes the masses had arrived but of course the bird had now moved. Luckily to save my blushes the bird quickly appeared on another roof top to delight the crowd and then gave good views as it worked along the rooftops before flying back towards the green in Lower Park Street.

Worth the trip to see the bird now let's hope it gets accepted by the BBRC and why not as this clearly is "The year of the Thrush!"
(White's, Dusky, Siberian, Black-throated, Swainson's and Eyebrowed all making an appearance.)

Not on the list yet but here's hoping for the armchair tick if accepted.

Blue Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush at Stow on the Wold

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Waders and Sea ducks at Titchwell

Today started well with a Barn Owl hunting at Burnham as I travelled to Titchwell. The Owl distracted me for an hour and delayed my arrival at Titchwell but when I did finally make the beach I wasn't disappointed.

Common and Velvet Scoters at Titchwell
Hundreds of Common Scoter were drifting along relatively close on the low tide. Amongst the Commons were several Velvets and these gave great scope views both in flight and drifting along with the rafts of Common.  A single Scaup and at least six Long-tailed Ducks were spotted before finding at least sixteen Red-breasted Mergansers in the bay. A raft of 40+ Eider came in to view towards Thornham and two Gannets flew through the turbines which is a strange record for December here. Even more odd was a Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard coming in off the sea with the Buzzard flying right through the Turbines.

The wader count at Titchwell is always good and today was no different with at least fourteen species on show and they do give you a chance to get the camera out.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Grey Plover
Grey Plovers
Norfolk was crazy busy today but amongst all those testing their new wellies out there was a few birders too I spent some time with a few of them today enjoying this crazy great hobby together.

Year list remains at 280

Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day in Norfolk

So we could shop......or we could go birding?

Started at Salthouse and enjoyed the company of around 40 Snow Buntings again.
The birds eventually came to feed in front of me after about an hours wait but were quickly panicked by a passing Peregrine. They settled again soon after and with blue skies I pulled the camera out to grab a few shots. These birds really do perform well and if you haven't yet had a go you should soon before they leave.

Snow Buntings at Salthouse
Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting in flight
Snow Bunting
After lunch we headed down to Costessey again and this time had the birds and the light so managed a few better images. The Blackbirds also gave a few opportunities before the light fell and returned to base again.

Waxwing at Costessey
Waxwing at Costessey

A great Boxing Day...Snow Buntings, Waxwings and no shopping.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Firstly a very merry Christmas one and all!

I spent my Christmas Eve watching Snow Buntings and Waxwings firstly in the first light this morning I was sat on the shingle to the east of Gramborough Hill waiting first for a little sun to come through the clouds then for the Snow Buntings to show. They both appeared over the next two hours at regular intervals but unfortunately they never appeared together so my shots had to be achieved with a certain lack of light. That aside it was great to spend time with them again and today they actually walked up to me close enough to touch if I'd wanted to. They really are great to observe at such close range.

Let it Snow!
Snow Bunting
Snow flakes
A Redshank posed in the pool by the car park and a group of Twite flew over.
The afternoon was spent shopping in Sheringham and watching Waxwings in Costessey where again the birds showed well but the light was dreadful. I managed a couple of acceptable shots but left thinking how good both the morning and afternoon would have been given just a little help from the sun.



Friday 23 December 2016

Red-breasted Goose at Docking

Third time lucky and I finally found the Red-breasted Goose at Docking. Easy to spot was the Todd's Canada Goose and at least seven Tundra Bean Geese in with the thousands of Pink-foots and White-fronts. Before the goose chase I spent some more time with the Snow Buntings at Salthouse where I had c40 birds coming to within a couple of feet as I lie on the ground. The sky was grey so the camera didn't come out but the experience alone was worth the walk along the shingle ridge.

Year list now 280 

Todd's Canada Goose

Thursday 22 December 2016

Snow Buntings at Salthouse

Barn Owl, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier at Burnham Norton kicked the day off well.
A Water Rail was a nice surprise at Brancaster Staithe whilst watching a good variety of waders in the harbour. At Thornham the Twite flew back and forth but remained mobile and a Kingfisher buzzed through without stopping. Lot's of Skylark around and large numbers of Curlew feasted out on the salt marsh.

Back at Docking I missed the Red-breasted Goose again but did find a couple of very smart Tundra Bean Geese in with the thousands of Pink foots. White Fronts, Brents, Barnacles and Greylags were also counted before leaving to find Snow Buntings at Salthouse.  I quickly found a group of c40 Buntings and sitting on the shingle bank managed a couple of shots despite the flock being very flighty.

A nice day along the north Norfolk coast.

Snow Bunting at Salthouse
Snow Buntings
Snow Bunting
Brent Goose 
Tundra Bean with the Pinks.
Deer at Docking 
Hare at Docking