Monday, 27 March 2017

Red flanked Bluetail at Titchwell

A planned trip to Norfolk today had added spice with news of Titchwell's first ever Red-flanked Bluetail staying put for a second and hopefully third day.

We stopped at first light in the hope of seeing the Golden Pheasant at Wolferton but had to settle for it on call alone before we moved on to Titchwell. A walk around the meadow trail failed to find the target but we then had news on the mobile of a sighting at the western end. We made the short walk from the Eastern end and waited with the small crowd for a few minutes before the bird was seen feeding on the ground. The local Robins chased it off and this routine continued with a brief view before the Robins saw it and went after it again.

On the walk to the beach we ticked Red-crested Pochard with seven birds on the salt marsh. Nine Long-tailed Ducks drifted along on the sea and as always with Titchwell the wader count was impressive. Our next stop was Blunt's Corner where I found the Pallid Harrier sitting in the field and we also had five Red Kite and five Common Buzzard to entertain us.

On the way home we popped into Lynford where we found five Crossbill and enjoyed the woodland birds coming to the feeders on the bridge. Hawfinch were being reported but we missed them on this occasion.

Blue Tit
Long Tailed Tit

Reed Bunting

Year list now 180

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Marching on

March is always a tough month for listing with most of the "gettable" winter ticks in the bag you find yourself waiting for spring migration to kick things off again but with the cold winds coming from the north things have gone a little slow.

Ringed Plover at Landguard
A trip to Dunge on Friday delivered a few fresh ticks with a single Firecrest between the lighthouse and the Observtory, six fresh Wheatears on the shingle between the new lighthouse and the fishing boats, two Iceland Gulls on the patch and a couple of Sandwich Terns fishing just beyond the boil early morning. On New Diggins I picked up Black-necked Grebe with a Slav from Dennis's hide too.
Elmley on the way home gave good views of Marsh Harriers, Curlews and Lapwing but little else of note.

Marsh Harrier at Elmley

This morning I headed up the A12 with the Jims stopping first at Landguard where it was quiet on the migrant front with a few Chiffchaffs and lot's of Linnets the exception. Six Ringed Plover entertained me before  we made it to the point. Lot's of Gulls and Gannets followed the massive cargo ships into the port but we had a surprise encounter when I picked out a Pomarine Skua steaming north.


We dipped out on the Iken Cattle Egret on our way up to Minsmere but managed to find a Bittern for the Jims from the Bittern Hide and had some terrific views of displaying Marsh Harriers from both Bittern and Island Mere. An Adder sat out for a while but eventually moved out of the wind and into cover.

Marsh Harrier from Island Mere at Minsmere
Ringed Plover

Year list now 177

Another one for a south easterly?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A few more migrants return

Today saw me on a solo run up to Minsmere with a quick stop at Dunwich Heath on the way in  and Abberton on the way home.

I ticked Dartford and Cetti's Warbler on the heath before making my way to North Hide at Minsmere where I quickly found a drake Garganey and smart pair of Smew. A single House Martin flew over the scrape with a Sand Martin giving another early year tick. I searched hard for Jack Snipe but found only eight Common Snipe. A walk to Bittern hide provided the opportunity to find a drake Pintail on the way and gave two more ticks with Bearded Tit and Bittern from the hide before I left taking a small detour to finally tick Scaup this year at Abberton. 

A grey windy day in Suffolk moved the year list to 171. 

Dartford Warbler 
Goldeneye at Abberton

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Little Bunting at Great Barford

A quick trip up the A1 to Great Barford was the order of the day. It rained most of the 40 mile drive and was still raining as we walked the wrong way up the river. A single Sand Martin gave us an unexpected year tick with my earliest previous Sand Martin being on 2nd April.

Little Bunting
A quick u turn at the first bridge followed by a half mile march along the public footpath running along the riverside and we found the seeded area set up by Beds birders. We waited getting wetter all the time and after half an hour the first Reed Bunting joined the finches to feed followed shortly after by a couple of female Reed Bunting before we spotted the Little Bunting sitting high up in the trees above the seed. The bird dropped to feed with the other Buntings and returned every half an hour or so for the next couple of hours. Grey Partridge was the only other bird of note whilst here but we left satisfied with the morning.

Year list now at 163

Little Bunting at Great Barford
Little Bunting in the rain
Little Bunting
Little and Reed together.
Reed Bunting

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owls at Elmley NNR

I took a drive down to Elmley this afternoon after work thinkng it's as good a place as any to clear the head after a very hard week of chasing numbers.

I spent two hours there with little to note other than singing Skylarks, Lapwings and a few Redshank before it all kicked off.

First a pair of Marsh Harrier entertained me with the male dropping to the side of the track a few yards form my car allowing a few shots as it feasted before flying off again. A couple of Hares bounced across the field and seven Buzzards soared overhead before the star birds came out to play.
A single Barn Owl and at least six Short-eared Owls flew around the car for the final hour of day light giving me the opportunity to capture some more images of my favourite birds.

If you visit drop a few coins in the honesty box or better still register as a friend of Elmley.

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier at Elmley NNR
Marsh Harrier.....stunning bird!
Short-eared Owl at Elmley NNR
Short-eared Owl 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Pallid Harrier

A few more images from the weekends trip to New Holkham in Norfolk.

Pallid Harrier enjoying the Hares antics below
With mouse
With a flushed Merlin
Pallid Harrier
Pallid Harrier at New Holkham Norfolk

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Pallid Harrier at New Holkham

The weather forecast was predicting rain for most of the day but with yesterdays reports of Pallid Harrier in New Holkham I was compelled to take the old fella up the A11 in search of his first Pallid Harrier and the bird he had made his main target for 2017.

Pallid Harrier at New Holkham
Pallid Harrier
We arrived at first light and drove down to the parked cars at Blunt's Corner just off the B1105,
Several birders were already set up and one had seen the Harrier but it was now lost to view but within a few minutes I spotted the bird coming over the fields before it dropped to the ground and wrestled with a catch. Over the next couple of hours the bird would fly over the fields and disappear to our right before coming back into view in front of us. Three Red Kites and three Merlin were also seen with both species interacting with the Harrier at some point.

We moved on to search Holkham Bay for the wintering Shore Larks finding seven birds feeding not far from the end of the boardwalk and we also picked up a year tick when two Cranes circled over the pines before drifting off to the west,

Cranes over Holkham Pines
At Brancaster we picked a few Bar-tailed Godwits out and the drying barns gave up a couple of Grey Partridge for another late year tick. On the way home we stopped at Cockley Cley finding fire point 109 and walking down the track where we found the wintering Great-Grey Shrike along with a Lesser Redpoll to bring the year list to 161.
The Shrike Followed us all the way back to the main road before turning and working its way back into the woods.

Great-Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley
Took a bit of finding!
Barn Owl at the races

A really terrific days birding picking up some good birds along the way and making the best of the days weather.