Monday, 31 December 2018

A last minute addition to the year list

Setting off at 6.30am this morning we found ourselves in North Walsham for first light and very quickly found the wintering Black-bellied Dipper no more than ten feet from the car. It spent most of the time in a very dark part of the river and was happy swimming, diving and feeding but it did give a very quick flight under the bridge allowing a record shot before it flew back down the river.
Whilst here I found a Kingfisher sitting on a boat and as I approached it flew to sit on the Fishing sign allowing a very quick record in very poor light but it made for a nice image all the same.

Black-bellied Dipper North Walsham
Kingfisher at North Walsham
Waxwing in Norwich
On the drive back we stopped in Norwich to collect a very late year tick in the form of four Waxwings which even in the gloom still gave some good opportunity with the camera.

Here's to tomorrow and the start of yet another year list.
Here's to the places it will take me and to the memories it will create.
Happy New Year and may it bring you health and happiness.

Colour ringed Waxwing

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Review of the year 2018

2018 saw my youngest get married with family visiting from the states and Australia which kept us busy and was a great catch up. My eldest had a baby my first grandchild and what a treasure little George is. Birding has suffered a bit as we try to help the new parents through the first months of parenthood but it's still been a good year.

I have picked up a few lifers with the Ross's Gull at Radipole in February being the first of the year followed by the two in April being the American Bittern and the Green Heron. I then had to wait until October to bag my next lifer but the Wanstead Rustic Bunting was quickly followed by Grey Catbird and Stegneger's Stonechat. A November week in Norfolk landed me in the right place to bag a Pallid Swift and I also have the Dungeness American Black Tern (if they split it),  Some memorable twitches among this lot from a trip to Lands End to an MP's garden in Wales.

The life list stands at 399 with a still pending Cackling Goose and an American Lark waiting in the wings too so 2019 should see me break that 400 mark which will be good.

There's been some good trips but sadly no real birding holidays.
The best bird was probably the Pom Skua in Cleveland and the best twitch had to be the Catbird.

The year list was not so memorable with just 253 seen despite my best ever day one count. I put this down to the birth of my grandson George and an excessive commitment to work which I plan to address in 2019.

Here's to a better total in 2019 and a few images to reflect the year just gone.

The Pom
Wild Boar
Bittern at Dunge
Cattle Egret at Elmley
Swallow at Minsmere
Cuckoo at Thursley
Arctic Redpoll
Green Heron
Penduline Tit
Snowy Owl at Snettisham
Spotted Sandpiper
And George!
Footnote..year list finished on 254 with the Waxwings in Norwich on 31st December.
Better late than never.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018


I've been going over my British list today as I approach 400 to check I have nothing plastic on it and I have to say it appears to be pretty clean apart from the Richardson's Cackling Goose at Kelling which doesn't seem to have been accepted at this point so I may actually be sitting on 398 right now.
I have the American Horned Lark in my back pocket for ron but lost a couple with the recent IOC revisions.

But looking at my list has prompted another look at the British list which now stands at 618 with the latest addition being the Pelican that I thought had less chance then the Pond Heron and as such I failed to go see it.
Here's a link to the BOURC Current British list.

Monday, 19 November 2018

The last week in Norfolk

The last week was spent in Norfolk with our grandson.
Birding was limited with days out tailored more to the little one with a trip to Hunstanton Sea life Aquarium his highlight. Watching the lights get turned on at Holt was an unexpected high point too.

On the birding front I managed to to connect with the King Eider at Sheringham on a couple of occasions. I got lucky when a Pallid Swift was found whilst I was in Cromer shopping so right time right place for a Lifer. A trip to Horsey to show the guys the Seal pups gave me the chance to connect with the wintering Rough-legged Buzzard and a stop off at Burwell on the way home rewarded me with great views of no fewer than eight Short-eared Owls. 

Gorgeous George
Barn Owl
Bull Grey Seal at Horsey
Curlew at Thornham
Seal pup
Female Grey Seal
Reed Bunting at Thornham
Short-eared Owl at Burwell Fen
Pallid Swift at Cromer

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Stejneger's Stonechat at Salthouse on a positive DNA test

The announcement on Birdguides
So once accepted this will drop on the life list and bring it to 399
Year list now 252 with this weeks addition of the Horsey Rough-legged Buzzard.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Pallid Swift at Overstrand

After enjoying good but distant views of the Sheringham King Eider this morning I found myself in just the right place to twitch the Pallid Swift that was reported at Overstrand just six miles away.
I parked up at the beach car park in Overstrand and walked about 800 yards west to find the Pallid Swift hawking with a House Martin mainly over the sea but it would occasionally drift to the cliff edge before turning and returning to the sea.

This was a lifer for me and takes the life list to 398 just tow short now of my 400 goal.

The year list is now 251

Pallid Swift
Pallid Swift 
Pallid Swift
Pallid Swift

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Probable Stejneger's Stonechat at Salthouse

This morning saw me and the Jims heading north to Cley for a spot of seawatching on the back of a weather forecast suggesting North easterly winds all day. We arrived just after 7.30am to be told we'd just missed a White-billed Diver.

It was a bit choppy 
It was bitterly cold but dry so we set up behind a tractor and enjoyed a couple of hours watching the sea. Our reward was a very close adult Pom Skua that flew right along the shingle in front of us and a very close Glaucous Gull. We missed a Sabines Gull but did spot a few Little Auks and a couple of Velvet Scoters among the large rafts of Commons. A distant Great and Arctic Skua added to the count as did a couple of Arctic Tern.

We then set off for Salthouse and searched the ditch at Meadow Lane to find the bird being reported as "probable" Stejneger's Stonechat. We found it straight away and enjoyed an hour or so but it remained quite distant. I managed a couple of record shots before the bird flew across the marsh and was lost to view.

The probable
The probable
Look at that rump
Last call for the day was Brancaster where we enjoyed a bit of lunch whilst watching the various waders in the harbour.

Black-tailed Godwit

Year list now 249 which includes the Stonechat listed for now as Siberian but if DNA proves it to be Stejneger's then it will be added to the life list.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Grey Catbird at Lands End

 Jim and I drove down to Lands End today leaving at 2.30am we tackled the 320 mile drive and despite thick fog and the M3 closures we arrived at Lands End for 8am. Pulling into the car park which was already full we could just about make out the group of birders in the mist and made our way towards them. The bird had just flown which was in one way a relief as we knew it was still about but obviously we now had to see if it returned. After an hour we had a very brief view as it sat up on top of some distant brambles. Another hour passed before the bird showed again but this time it came much closer and gave me the chance to grab a few images despite the thick cloud cover that had now formed.

Grey Catbird
Grey Catbird

Grey Catbird was now firmly on the list.

A short diversion on the way home gave another year tick with Cirl Buntings at Broadsands.
Year list now 246
Life list now 397

A full car park at sunrise
Looking for the Catbird
Lands end
First distant views but qualified for my second lifer this week
Now will that Brown Shrike wait around for next weekend?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Rustic Bunting at Wanstead flats

Thanks Nick!

Yes Mr C has found another great bird on his local patch and I managed to bunk off work long enough to connect with it today. When I say connect I managed to hear it calling as it flew over and saw it at least three times in flight but despite people giving directions I never managed to get on it on the ground so a return trip will be in order should it hang around until the weekend.

Nice to see lot's of locals today.

The twitch
Rustic Bunting
Rustic Bunting
Rustic.............Thanks Nick!
Ps,,went back Saturday got to see the bird on the ground, took a few distant records shots above and gave Nick a hug for all the work he puts in walking this patch and finding good birds for people like me to see.

Year list now 244
Life list now 396