Thursday 31 January 2019

That's January done

My biggest January total to date is 155 so I was chasing that this year but came up short with a finish of 152.
Over the last couple of days I added Red-crested Pochard and Blackcap but didn't quite manage to get to the target with some very obvious easy ticks missing like  
Raven, Chiffchaff, either Bean Goose, Velvet Scoter, Spoonbill, Shag, Crane, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Little Owl, Yellow-legged Gull, Bearded Tit, Rock Pipit, Bullfinch and a couple of expected Divers so plenty that could have got me there but on a positive note they're still there to go after in Feb where my biggest total is 179 so I'm chasing 27 in Feb (My sales background loves a target)

year list now 152 

I took the below during a couple of hours walking the Lea Valley where I finally added Blackcap to the year list. Just a reminder that there's always something to see.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron

Monday 28 January 2019

Waxwings in Hertford

I had to give the wifes car a run out today so decided to make the most of the task by taking it to Hertford where I enjoyed the comings and goings of the thirteen Waxwings.

On the way home I made a reluctant stop for the Cattle Egret in Cheshunt. The thought of visiting a swing park to twitch this one was less than appealing but as luck would have it I had the park to myself apart from a couple of Black-headed Gulls and a single Egret so the camera came out and I grabbed a few images of the wintering bird.

Cattle Egret at Cheshunt
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Sunday 27 January 2019

Ring Necked Duck at New Hythe

Thanks to the old fella driving and Jim navigating today I found myself ticking Red-necked Grebe at Cliffe although the bird was by no means an easy tick. A long walk and a lot of scanning eventually gave brief scope views along with better views of at least four Black-necked Grebes.

We retraced our steps and drove around to the Black Barn where I picked up two Avocet in flight for a second year tick.

The Jims agreed on dropping in at New Hythe where they'd already had the RND but this time we parked up much closer than their last trip and a short walk saw me connect with the Ring-necked Duck although it was at the far north end of the lake.

So three hard earned year ticks with a good stretch of the legs.

Year list now 150

The Ring necked Duck is in the above pic....good luck
Little Egret at Cliffe

Sunday 20 January 2019

More Purple Sandpiper from Sheringham

Now and then a bird performs for the camera and yesterdays Purple Sandpiper was one of those birds coming within a few feet with a little craft and patience. The light was challenging as it was always in the shade but with some increase in ISO the results weren't too bad.

my personal favourite
Bright eye
Purple Sand
What a cracking bird
Purple Sandpiper at Sheringham
having a little ruffle of the feathers to keep the warmth in
Check out that bill
a memorable experience for sure
I also had some time with the Shore Larks at Holkham and have a couple more images of them too.

Shore Lark at Holkham
I liked this as it illustrates the view I had for 99% of the time with them.
One of my favourite birds
Today saw me drop into Lemsford Springs to catch up with Green Sandpipers which didn't disappoint as five birds walked up and down in front of the hide. Two Grey Wagtails and a Little Egret added to the spectacle.

Year list now 147 leaving me a chance of my best January total ever which was 155 but the ticks do come a lot slower now until the spring migrants arrive.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Holkham hits

A trip up the A11 this morning gave us the chance of adding a few year ticks so we started at Holkham and after putting some gold coins in the green box at the car park we headed off down the board walk and along the path towards the "roped off area". We quickly found 21 Shore Larks feeding and soon after around 30 Snow Buntings. We enjoyed good views of them for a couple of hours although the sun never quite got over the pines and the sand on the dunes remained frosted over during the time we were there.

Shore Lark at Holkham
Some of the Snow drops.
We added Dartford Warbler to the day list when one was seen flitting around with a Stonechat at Holkham to our surprise before leaving for Cley.

At Cley we parked at the coastguards and walked east to East bank finding a Glaucous Gull as we neared the far end. The bird appears to have some damage to it's right eye but otherwise was a joy to watch and we managed a few images too. Another group of Snow Bunting was found here which pushed the days total to over 100 birds proving they are having a good winter on the Norfolk coast.

The Glauc at Cley
We dropped into Sheringham for a spot of lunch and managed to find a single Purple Sandpiper.

Purple Sandpiper at Sheringham
As we headed back towards Titchwell in search of the Choseley Barns Rough-legged Buzzard I stopped to get the Jims a year tick for White-fronted Geese on Holkham freshmarsh and on arrival at Choseley we quickly found the Rough-leg and managed to get the small crowd on it to the delight of all. The bird sat, flew, hovered and generally entertained us. Among the crowd four guys from yorkshire that I last bumped into at the Rock Thrush in Wales when one treated me to a beef sandwich.

The journey home delivered one more final year tick when a Woodcock was seen at Dersingham.

Year list now 146 and all in all a very good days birding.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Wallasea Hen Harriers

After bagging a single tick last Sunday with the Bittern at Amwell I wanted another outing today and after looking at the weather which promised a little light at Wallasea where as the rest of the country seemed to be forecasting dark cloud I jumped in the car and headed down the A127.

On arrival I was surprised to find a gate blocking my entry to the track which didn't open until 8am which was OK on this occasion but in the spring I'd usually arrive much earlier so like Rainham and Elmley before it seems that no thought has been given to anybody wanting to make the most of the golden hour for photography.

It was not bright as forecast and with the wind blowing it was pretty cold especially from the sea wall but my reward for the trip was two Hen Harriers and singles of Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard but any Owls present stayed down out of the wind. The flooded fields held lot's of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck and Mute Swans along with a few Curlew, Dunlin and Redshank. Corn Bunting remain present in good numbers.

A couple of Med Gulls added to the year list on a brief scan by the pier at Southend and a stop off on the way home at Bowers Marsh gave a further tick in the form of two White-fronted Geese  although the pedigree could be questioned but it was nice to see them with the Canada Geese to establish the size difference.

Year list now 140


Saturday 5 January 2019

Going well

We set out this morning with a bit of a Lynford wish list and to say it went well would be an understatement.

From the bar gate that Chris has set up as a feeding station and drinking pool we had our first Brambling of 2019 followed quickly by another fifty or so. Nuthatch were really noisy all around us but I had to wait an hour or so to see my first of the year. We walked down to the paddock and picked up Goldcrest and Marsh Tit around the feeders by the bridge and then heard Crossbill calling. Shortly after seven Crossbill flew over. Jimmy then found a single Hawfinch feeding on Hawthorn giving great scope views and a large flock of Siskin added another tick. Back at the feeding station and whilst watching the Brambling a single Lesser Redpoll dropped down to the pool for a quick drink and then a Hawfinch came in to give excellent close up views. Three more Crossbill sat at the top of a pine tree near the entrance and two more flew over as we got back to the car.

We moved on to Santon Downham and picked up a Kingfisher by the bridge and another two Crossbill but little else of note.

On the journey back whilst the Jims slept I spotted a Red Kite flying over the M11 near Cambridge and then we took a small detour to find the Caspian Gull on Eagle Pond at Snaresbrook.

Add yesterdays Grey Wagtail, Smew, Scaup and Black-necked Grebe from Abberton and we're off to a good start for the year.

Year list now 137 in five days.

An old Red Kite pic to remind the Jims that if you snooze you lose!
And when I say going, second and third and as much as we know we'll end up with a respectable 250 plus we won't be challenging the big guns around the 300 plus mark...but no reason to not enjoy the moment.

Thursday 3 January 2019

Birding Dunge and Capel Fleet

With the fresh enthusiasm of the year list we headed to Dungeness this morning arriving at the boats for first light to find the shore close in alive with Auks, Gannets and Cormorants. Most of the Auks were Guillemot with a few Razorbill close in too. Red-throated Divers flew up and one settled on the sea to give good scope views. A single Kittiwake and two Great Skua added to the year list here. Despite a local throwing out a full loaf of bread to draw in the gulls we failed to bring in a Caspo but did manage to see two Skylark on the walk back to the car along with three Stock Dove which the Jims needed.

What little light we had first thing was golden
Gannets diving close in among the Cormorants
one of the hundreds of Auks on the sea today.
At the power station we found a Peregrine roosting on the pylons and a Back Redstart gave another tick.

Black Redstart
Back at ARC pit and we located a single Great White Egret before stopping at the farm to tick Tree Sparrow for the year list and jamming on a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Just down the road we found four Cattle Egrets and managed to grab a few images too. A quick drive to Galloways firing range ensured we didn't leave without Stonechat on the list and we managed a bonus bird with an unexpected Dartford Warbler that showed really well but was flighty and didn't sit still long.

Dartford Warbler
At Scotney we failed to locate the Little Owl but added a single tick with the feral Barnacle Geese.

We left Dunge and started the journey home stopping half way at Capel Fleet to watch the harrier roost. Around twenty Marsh Harriers came in with a single ring-tailed Hen Harrier. Lot's of Buzzard sat on the fence line with one particularly pale bird notable. A Merlin sat on a small mud mound among the Lapwing and Golden Plover flock and a Peregrine sat on a fence post watching too.
Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl added to the raptor fest here. We also added Corn Bunting and Fieldfare.

Year list now a healthy 122 after 3 days.


Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egret
2 of the 4 Cattle Egrets at Lydd today
Cattle Egrets
Dartford Warbler

Wednesday 2 January 2019

A few more local ticks

I popped into work this morning like you do then dropped into Connaught Waters on the way home.

Three Jay and two Ring-necked Parakeets were seen as I drove down to the car park and a Green Woodpecker called loudly and then I picked up Shoveler, Goosander and Mandarin Duck on the walk around the lake.

So the year list has eased over a hundred in two days to 102 with a planned trip to Kent tomorrow to add a few more ticks and keep the fire burning.