Sunday 28 January 2018

Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge Suffolk

So far 2018 has been a shocker for me on a personal level but I continue to find some comfort in my birding with the days in the field helping to clear the head a little and giving some balance to what is really starting to feel like the proverbial "annus horribillis"

Flying solo I headed up the A12 hoping to connect with the Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge and as I arrived at first light it was already feeding at the back of the flooded field between the bridge and the pub.

Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge in Suffolk
Glossy Ibis
Putting a gloss on it.
With the bird a bit distant I headed back to Minsmere and walked down to Island Mere hide where a Bittern was showing as I entered the hide but slipped away just before reaching the front of the reed bed. Bearded Tits called but didn't sit and an Otter swam across in front of the hide.

As I drove back to Eastbridge both Red and Muntjac Deer crossed the road and on arrival back at the flooded field the Ibis was much closer and gave a few chances to capture the odd image of it.

On the way home I stopped again to check on the Redpolls at Hazlewood and wasn't disappointed as it showed well for a change feeding on the ploughed field with both Common and Lesser for company.

not so red

A decent mornings birding

Year list now 153

Sunday 21 January 2018

Little Bunting in Walthamstow

We beat the rain this morning with an early start and had both the Little Bunting and Greater Scaup in the bag and made it home for 10am too before the rain fell and at 11am it's now snowing so looks a good decision to get up and out early.

We were lucky to get early access with our Thames Water permit otherwise we'd have needed to wait for the car park to open at 9.30am. (Wildlife reserve...9.30am really???)

Whilst making a coffee on getting home I had my first Blackcap of the year too when a female dropped into the garden to feed on my apples before getting spooked by a Woodpigeon.

so the year list now sits at 150 in 21 days and a reasonable start to 2018.

Distant Little Bunting
and a couple more of yesterdays little cracker

and not a meal worm in sight!

Saturday 20 January 2018

Black Redstart at Sheringham

Another solo run today so I could spend a bit of time with a certain Black Redstart that's wintering on the sea front at Sheringham and it didn't disappoint.

A Woodcock in flight as I headed up the A11 gave an unexpected year tick before picking up a single Purple Sandpiper on the sea front whilst looking for the target bird which I picked up by the sea watch hut. I spent a few hours watching it and had a little run around the back of Tesco in search of yesterdays Waxwing which had cleared the berry bush and moved on so a dip on these for the day.

On the way home I stopped off at Waxham despite no reports of the Hume's Warbler and after a good look around I too failed to hear or see the target. I did however pick up a single Chiffchaff and a pair of Cranes whilst here so all was not lost.

Year list now 147

Black Redstart
Purple Sandpiper

Sunday 14 January 2018

Still no Dowitcher

After picking up a few year ticks during the working week I hitched a ride with the Jims this morning with the first stop being the watchpoint at Capel Fleet in Kent.

Common Buzzard
Arriving just after first light we picked up a Barn Owl on the drive down to the point and watched as the Marsh Harriers left the roost and lingered around the fleet. A single Hen Harrier left the roost but didn't linger. We were surprised when the local Hooded Crow came in to feed on a dead Swan but again it didn't stay long leaving the carrion to the Buzzards and a Kestrel.

Kestrel on a dead Swan
Corn Bunting hung around the usual brambles and around 300 Linnets gathered on the wires and the road. Back at the fleet we scanned the geese and found first three Whooper Swans in the herd of Mutes and then the White-fronted Geese among the Barnacles.

Hundreds of Linnet feeding along the roadside
We headed next to Shellness and found the shoreline alive with waders including Sanderling, Knot, Dunlin, Turnstone, Redshank and Oystercatcher. Scanning back over the fields from the sea wall we quickly found a large flock of Skylark and as they took flight we could pick out some Snow Bunting with ease although finding them on the ground was more difficult but after about an hour we managed to find a couple of Snow and a single Lapland Bunting in the scope.

Our last point of call on this little trip into Kent was Oare Marsh were we failed again to find the wintering Long-billed Dowitcher despite it being reported from where we stood while we stood that one out!

Year list now 142

Friday 12 January 2018

Twite info from the BTO

Whilst in Norfolk over Christmas I noticed one of the Thornham Twite was ringed so sent in details to the BTO and got the following reply today.

Twite at Thornham

Thank you for taking the time to report to us details of a bird ring you found. Information about this bird and its movements is given below.
Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: S347023 Species of bird: Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)
This bird was ringed by Christmas & Christmas as age at least 1 year, sex unknown on 03-Dec-2016 10:00:00 at Booth Wood Reservoir, Rishworth, West Yorkshire, UK
OS Map reference SE0216 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 53deg 38min N -1deg -58min W accuracy 0.
Colour Marks left below knee G,M
Colour Marks right below knee G,P
It was found on 28-Dec-2017 time unknown at Thornham Harbour, Norfolk, UK
OS Map reference TF7344 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 52deg 57min N 0deg 34min E accuracy 0.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Identified by Colour Ring(s)
Extra Information: -
It was found 390 days after it was ringed, 185 km from the ringing site, direction ESE.
Bird Ringing in Britain & Ireland is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Each year over 900,000 birds are ringed by over 2,500 highly trained bird ringers, most of whom are volunteers. They follow a careful training process that can take several years to complete to ensure that they have the necessary skills to catch and ring birds. The bird’s welfare is always the most important consideration during ringing activities.
Ringing began over 100 years ago to study the movements of birds. While it continues to generate information about movements, it also allows us to study how many young birds leave the nest and survive to breed as adults, as well as how many adults live from year to year and how many birds disperse to different breeding sites. Collection of this information helps us to understand why bird populations increase or decrease − vital information for conservation. Details of how many birds have been caught and where and when they have been found are available on the BTO website at
Some interesting facts discovered from ringing data....
Oldest bird – Manx shearwater, 50 yrs 11 months
Furthest travelled – Arctic Tern from Wales to Australia 18,000 km
Strangest recovery – Osprey ring found in stomach of a crocodile in The Gambia!
Many thanks again for reporting this bird and contributing to the work of the Ringing Scheme. If you would like to find out more about the BTO please check out our website
With best wishes
The Ringing Team

Sunday 7 January 2018

Just a few more year ticks

So having survived three crazy busy days at work I again find myself with time to bird.


First stop Oare Marsh where we dipped both Dowitcher and Green-winged Teal but I did find a Ruff and Yellowhammer to add a couple of ticks before a Kingfisher flew by a couple of times to add tick three for the weekend.
With the tide well out and all the waders miles away in really gloomy light we moved on to Dunge.
We visited the reserve first adding Tree Sparrow, Long-eared Owl and Iceland Gull for our trouble before turning back up the track towards ARC pit. From Hanson Hide we had good scope views of a Black-throated Diver but couldn't locate the reported Slav. Grebe.
A Great-White Egret was seen here for another year tick and a Kingfisher flashed by too.
On the drive down to the power station we stopped to find the Caspian Gull by the fishing boats and then managed to find the Glaucous Gull down by the patch hide. Whilst here we enjoyed good views of Gannet and Kittiwakes to add another couple of numbers to the year list.

Glauc at Dunge
Caspo at Dunge
A quick drive along the track at Elmley delivered little but an hour or so at the Capel Fleet watchpoint delivered loads of Marsh Harriers, a male and two ring-tail Hen Harriers, a Merlin, Peregrine and Barn Owl. A couple of dozen Corn Buntings gave another tick before we decided it was getting too wet and too cold to continue.

Year list now 126


Hazlewood Common for four hours and I managed all three Redpolls. That's Lesser Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll and Couse's Arctic Redpoll all in the same view.
Getting images proved difficult but with patience opportunities came although the Lessers proved much more photogenic.

The Arctic watching me watching him.
Lesser Redpoll

Less is more!

On the way home I stopped at Hollesley Common and on arrival found a small scattering of birders with just a single guy under the trees by the puddle and after discussion he admitted to having been there six hours without a sniff. I walked off for a search and found lot's of Coal Tit, a single Marsh Tit and Dartford Warbler. A Sparrowhawk flew over as did a couple of Marsh Harrier. As I arrived back at the puddle the gentleman that had waited all day had departed and four other birders had taken up residence and immediately I heard the distinct calling of the Parrot Crossbills only to find out they'd been watching them as I walked down the track. I managed to get eyes on them as they flew over and landed atop the pines behind us to give a great year tick but my thoughts were for that poor soul that gave up most of his day and still missed them.

Year list now 133

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Day 2

The last day of a nice Xmas/New Year break saw me do a bit of a round robin.

Staines Reservoir
Black-necked Grebe on South Basin behind what's left of the islands since re flooding of the basin.
Great Northern Diver North east corner of North Basin
Four Ruddy Duck North west corner of North Basin
Water Pipit seen by others but I couldn't find it in difficult conditions.

Bramfield Church
Eight Hawfinch feeding in Yew at the the back of the church
Nuthatch on dead tree in churchyard
Green Woodpecker on field behind churchyard and Red Kite over.

Lee Valley
No Bittern!
Waterail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring necked Parakeets

Connaught Water
Five Goosander and several Mandarin Ducks along with Red Kite, Buzzard and Nuthatch the highlights.

Year list now 113
Water Rail at Lee Valley

Mandarin Duck

Unfortunately tomorrow thoughts turn back to forecasting, logistics, margins and p&l's again but of course I'll be looking for a tick here and there.

Monday 1 January 2018

Best ever DAY ONE count

With the better weather forecast for Norfolk that was our destination for the day one count.

Starting with Barn Owl and ending wit a lovely Grey Male Hen Harrier we had a cracking day.

Shore Lark at Holkham, Twite at Thornham, Snow Buntings at Salthouse and Cattle Egret at Stiffkey were the four main targets and all were achieved without drama. Sandwiched between all this was a trip to Brancaster Staithe where Water Rail proved the best bird. A sizeable crowd gathered at Titchwell for a Sea Watch and here we managed close views of Long-tailed Duck, Mergansers, Razorbill and Great Northern Diver along with fly through Red-throated Diver, Guillemot and Little Gull .The large selection of waders here added to the days list and I picked out a couple of Water Pipit and a single Rock Pipit before we headed to Cley.

As we passed Holkham a male Merlin was spotted sitting close to the road and at Cley we located the Snow Buntings without difficulty from the end of Beach Road. On the way back to Stiffkey we located the two Cattle Egrets on the flooded fields and then the finale came as we watched the salt marsh and found the Male Hen Harrier going to roost.

So my best ever total for day one with 104 species seen giving 2018 a chance from the get go.

Life list now 392
Year list 104

Titchwell shoreline
Sanderling and Knot

Snow Buntings
Little Grebe