Tuesday 26 February 2019

A very good days birding with the Jims

Left home at six this morning for a very full days birding with the Jims.
We started at first light in Santon Downham as they still needed Woodlark for a year tick which we managed to get just a few feet from the car with birds calling, singing and feeding on the ground along the path to the underpass. We walked down river accompanied by a mother and cub Otter all the way to the fallen tree at which point we stopped and they carried on. After a short wait we picked up a pair of Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and managed a few record shots of the female.

Female Lesser-spotted Woodpecker
Our next stop was Sculthorpe Moor where Redpolls were our target. After a small donation we marched on down to the portacabins where Mealy Redpolls were quickly seen feeding with a couple of Lessers. I had a very likely candidate on the feeders and managed a record shot which to my mind shows it to be the Arctic Redpoll. The Jims managed to get a view in better light when it dropped into a puddle to drink. I managed a record shot of the next bird to drop in which was a Mealy but still nice to watch.

The Arctic
The Mealy
We moved on after a couple of hours of watching the feeders and chose Titchwell as our final stop of the day. A Spotted Redshank was picked out in the distance as we marched to the sea where we picked out Black-throated and Great Northern Diver. On the walk back I picked up a Rock Pipit and eventually picked up my first Bearded Tits of 2019. 

Otters. Always on the far bank or in the darkest areas of the river but really good to watch them feeding.
Lesser-spotted Woodpecker

Year list now 178

Monday 25 February 2019

Watching Eagles at Lakenheath

A drive through Lakenheath this morning on the way to Santon Downham gave me an unexpected opportunity to watch the F-15 strike Eagles taking off. I've passed the RAF base many times and often seen the Eagles up in the air but never noticed them on the deck before so when I did this morning I pulled over to watch them take off and have to say it was quite an experience with the noise quite something and the way they turn vertical at the end of the runway is also quite a spectacle.

F15 Strike Eagle
check out the heat haze
At Santon Downham I managed to find a calling Woodlark on the way down and found it on the ground on the way back to the car. At the usual site further down the river I found the Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers drumming, calling and even managed quite good views of a male on several occasions.
No sign of Otters on this occasion but I picked up a single Brambling and several Siskin to add to the reward.

Woodlark at Santon Downham

Year list now 171 and 8 short of my best ever February total with three days to go .

Saturday 23 February 2019

A week in the forest of Dean

Just back from a week away in the Forest of Dean with my grandson with limited birding opportunities as the week was geared around ensuring he had a good time.

I added a few year ticks with Ravens in the garden of our cottage and I twitched the Yellow-browed Warbler a couple of miles from where we stayed and found my first Chiffchaff there too. I dipped on the Glossy Ibis at Newport but did manage to pick up the Red-rumped Swallow with Swallow and Sand Martin at Cmw Ivy whilst on my way down to Rossilli in search of Chough where I found a group of eight feeding by the coastguards hut at Worms Head. I had great views of several Goshawk at New Fancy and another single bird whilst walking at Mallard Pike. Hawfinch and Crossbill were seen but only as fly overs.

Year list now 169

Loads of Raven in the area
one of five Jays at Parkend
Kestrel at Worm Head

Little Grebe at Cannop Ponds
Nice blood moon while there.
Nuthatch at Parkend
Marsh Tit at Parkend
Mandarin at Cannop Ponds
Mallard at Cannop Ponds
Red Kite.....wouldn't be a trip to Wales without some Red Kite action.
Robin at Parkend

Thursday 14 February 2019

Going for Goshawks

We dropped into Lackford Lakes at first light this morning finding Lesser Redpolls and Siskins on the feeders and a pair of Bullfinch in the bramble behind before we moved on to the sailing lake. We'd missed all the larger gulls which had already left the roost but did manage to see a pair of Goldeneye making little Goldeneyes.

A pair of Goldeneye in the early gloom at Lackford Lakes
Blue Tit

Our next stop was Nunnery lakes parking in the BTO offices we walked around the back to the lakes and found two Jack Snipe on the island on the second lake. A Treecreeper entertained me on the walk back to the car park.

Our main target today was Goshawk so we moved on to Cockley Cley and parked up in order to scan the tree tops finding upwards of nine Buzzard in the air together before we found a pair of displaying Goshawk. The pair gave great scope views as they danced together over the tree tops on several occasions before we left in search of Willow Tit. We parked up and walked the tracks and although we saw what looked like Willow Tit in the tree tops we are aware that the location also holds Marsh Tit and without the benefit of call we couldn't label this bird. We left the old fella and walked back to the car and as we got within twenty feet of the car we heard the distinctive call of the Willow Tit to finally nail it to the year list.

Common Buzzard
Our next stop was on the way back down at Santon Downham where we failed again to find Woodlark but did see another Goshawk and a Sprawk before we left. We decided to stop off at Lackford on the way home and see if the larger gulls had returned to the roost and we hit the jackpot.
First a second winter Yellow legged gull followed by two adult Caspian Gulls and then the Kumliens gull.

Year list now 162

Tufted Duck

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Fudge Duck on Holyfield Lake

Whilst in Lincs yesterday a couple of the local patch workers found a Fudge Duck on Holyfield Lake in Lea Valley country park but we couldn't get back in time so had planned to look for it this morning.

I set off on a solo run and despite thick fog managed to get on the Fudge by around 9am following a tip from another birder regarding the area the bird liked best. A quick call to let the Jims know it was still there and then I managed to get a couple of half decent record shots before it drifted away and became very elusive hiding in the overhanging branches of the islands for most of the morning. Nice bumping into Bob again and Paul W for the second time in two days.

Year list now 157

Fudge Duck
The Fudge Duck at Holyfield Lake
Arrow for car park and circled area the bird was seen in today
from the car park cross over the road bridge turning to walk up the river pass the weir and start looking when you get to the fishermans car park.

Lot's of these guys around the lake.
One last bit of Fudge
The Red-crested Pochard was seen but never with the Fudge 

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Long-billed Dowitcher at Frampton Marsh RSPB

We headed north today hoping to see the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher at Frampton Marsh RSPB with a plan to drop in at Deeping Lakes on the way.

As we arrived at Deeping the fog rolled in and visibility was just a few yards so we had to wait a couple of hours until the island came into view from the hide. We filled the time by watching numerous Goldeneye and Goosander on the main lake. A female Bullfinch gave us year tick and then as the island came into view we managed to scope and reveal at least three Long-eared Owls one of which was sat out quite clearly whilst the others remained quite deep in cover.

Atleast three LEO's in this shot but not easy to find
We left Deeping and continued north to Frampton. On arrival at the the far car park we found LRGE had the Dowitcher in view which saved us a lot of time trying to locate the bird. It transpired that the bird had only just dropped in so we really got lucky with it. It was still very Foggy but we managed a couple of shots all the same as the bird was quite close.
Water Pipits showed well as did large numbers of Ruff and probably the largest group of Pintail I've ever seen.

Long-billed Dowitcher at Frampton Marsh RSPB
Ruff (note the irregular plural)
On the drive back down the A1 just after Peterborough a gathering of upwards of seventy Red Kite was an unexpected site to finish a decent days birding.

Year list now 156

Sunday 3 February 2019

Who reads my ramblings

I was checking a few settings on the blog and stumbled on the audience page which revealed a few interesting facts about the people that read what I consider my countryside diary.

By far the biggest audience comes from the UK as you'd expect followed closely by the USA  but the surprise to me was to find that the third biggest country hitting the blog is Russia followed by a good selection of European countries with China sitting among them and a very small scattering from Singapore and Malaysia etc.

Pageview map
Then it reflects the browsers being used which added a little interest .
Google and internet Explorer shared about 60% of the total with Firefox and Safari the only other browsers of note with about 5% of the total outside these four browsers. 

The page also lists the operating systems being used and highlights the massive amount of readers that use Windows (71%)  with no other system topping 6%.

So this shows that most people finding my blog do so in a Google search on a Windows system and the key search used is "birding blogs uk" .

In summary it all means very little and I shall continue to write the diary more for my own enjoyment. I find it really useful to look back over a few years to see where I was going and what I was seeing and to reflect on those more interesting twitches and equally it's nice to drop in to like minded blogs and follow where they've been and what they've seen with some of it inspiring me to get out to these places too.

Now I need to knock out this chest infection and start planning a few trips.

Saturday 2 February 2019

Great Grey Shrike at Santon Downham

The old fella drove us to Santon Downham this morning and we arrived around 8.30am. We parked in the car park by the railway and walked down to the underpass to find the Willows that the bird had been seen in yesterday. We needed to walk further along the path and look back at the Willows before we found the target bird sitting on top of a Hawthorn in among the Willows. The bird remained distant but gave excellent scope views.

The snow started to fall so we headed back to the car park picking up Kingfisher and Brambling on our way.

Santon Downham

On the way home we dropped in to Lakenheath with our reward for a four mile walk just a single Bittern and Water Rail, a couple of Marsh Harriers and a large herd of Whooper Swan.

Year list now 153

Great Grey Shrike at Santon Downham