Thursday 29 August 2019

Wrynecks at Holland Haven Essex

One of my favourite birds has to be the Wryneck so with news of one in the home county today I headed up the A12 with the Jims to find the little cracker.

The bird had been reported in the dell at Holland Haven which for those less familiar is the sunken area around the toilet block. It took us ninety minutes to get a first glimpse as the bird flew from a small bush behind the toilets but vanished as quick as it appeared. Two more flight views followed before I finally got the binoculars on it and what a cracker it was. Now I wanted to see if I could catch an image with the camera but it was proving very elusive to say the least. Another couple of hours passed before we connected again this time sitting in a dead bush and to my surprise it was now in the company of a second Wryneck. At some distance I managed to fire of a few shots of the bush hoping it might show the two birds. (see below) One of the birds dropped to feed on the steps but as is always the case this prompted a woman to use these steps to get to the toilet so if you'll pardon the pun "the bird was flushed".

Year list now 278

Looks like I could come up a couple short of my 280 August target but never say never still two days to go.

Wryneck at Holland Haven
Feeding on the steps before the flush
A short and  rare view in the open
Two Wrynecks, can you see them?
How about now?
Not too easy to pick them out is it?
A few pics from the last couple of days too...

Cuckoo at Dunge
Whitethroat at Dunge
Peregrine at Dunge
Whinchat at Wanstead

Saturday 17 August 2019

Buff Breasted Sandpiper at Frampton

We tried Frampton on Thursday for the reported Buff-breasted Sandpiper but after four hours we gave up and headed home. I've only seen a couple of Buff Sands before so wanted to give this one another go and so I arranged to meet the Jims this morning and we headed back up the A1 arriving at Frampton for around 7.15am. We scanned hard and after a while I set off to walk the reserve leaving the Jims well placed at the car park should it show. I walked the sea wall finding the Long-billed Dowitcher and enjoying hundreds of other waders including Curlew and Wood Sandpipers. A single Whinchat on the fenceline by the sea wall gave me a year tick before news eventually came out that the Sandpiper had been found. We all gathered on the sea wall and eventually everybody got on the target which showed well but distant.

The place is alive with Sunflowers
Sunflowers in the sun at Frampton

A good addition to the year list and taking my total to 277.

Whinchat at Frampton
Record shot of Buffy (on the grass behind the Spoonies)
Buffy (circled in the centre)
The Sandpiper prefers the short grass banks between the islands but can vanish behind longer grass for a long time. Lots of people having trouble eliminating the young Ruff too when searching for Buffy and they'd do well to apply my rule...If you think you have it, you don't!

Two different Spoonbills, these ones have heads!

Monday 12 August 2019

Cleaning up the list

Back on 23rd December 2012 I added Richardson's Canada Goose to my life list after connecting with one on Kelling Heath in Norfolk. That bird has bothered me for a while especially as I headed towards 400 knowing it was on my list and all these years later still not accepted by the BBRC.
They have it in the "work in progress" box but an update now looks like they plan to drop it in the Cat E group so I've made the call and deleted it from my life list which now sits at 404 but is now clean.

Onwards and upwards.

Saturday 10 August 2019


I'd seen the storm forecast for south west Cornwall this weekend and hatched a plan to spend a couple of days with the Jims hoping we might experience something special from a sea watch at Porthgwarra.

We set off in the middle of the night on Thursday and arrived at Porthgwarra for first light Friday finding the car park full and once we got to the rocks seating was limited but we settled in and started the watch. Things started slow but the weather was as expected with 50mph winds in our faces and heavy downpours assisted by the winds to make things a little more challenging.
After six hours we picked up our first ever Sooty Shearwaters and year ticks with Manx and Balearic Shearwaters. I picked out one of the passing Storm Petrels and we were entertained by good numbers of Bonxie moving west along with a single Arctic. (A Pom was reported but nobody in the group seemed to know about it)

It was the weather that we'd hoped for.
A few hardy souls left
The cover
When in Cornwall.....
We left to try to connect with Cornish Chough which the Jims needed for a year tick but failed locally and at Lizard point in miserable conditions.

Rare blue skies at the Lizard
After some refreshment and food we had a decent nights sleep at Travelodge before returning to Porthgwarra this morning to find again that by 5.30am the car park had filled and seating was again at a premium. We'd hoped today would be the day but things were very slow. A Sooty and a Storm Petrel the only highlight of four hours on site with Balearic and Manx again present in good numbers. We left at 11am to find that in the next two hours three Cory's flew close by but that's birding and we had a 320 mile journey home to consider and also wanted to visit Labrador Bay in Devon on route.

Labrador Bay
Labrador Bay 
One of the Cirl Buntings sheltering form the wind
Once at the bay we quickly found at least six Cirl Bunting and a nice surprise in the form of a Great Green Bush Cricket which was a first for me and quite a stunner too.

Great Green Bush Cricket
Massive beast
The journey home took us past Stonehenge which prompted a short but welcome break as Jim had never visited this iconic attraction.

Year list now 275
Life list now 405

A great couple of days birding in good company both with the Jims and the very helpful friendly group among the rocks at Porthgwarra that included quite a few very familiar faces some of whom departed pretty quick on news of a certain Swift with a white rump in Yorkshire. I'll return to Porthgwarra another day when I hope the other large Shearwaters will oblige.

Tuesday 6 August 2019

A first visit to Wells north pools

We headed up to Norfolk today picking up the Pectoral Sandpiper at Cley for a year tick, we also had  numerous Common, Green and Wood Sandpiper along with the usual suspects before heading west to the new pools at Wells.

We parked up at the small car park provided for access to the North pools and walked down the footpath between the pools. This is an impressive place and I'm confident it'll bring some very good birding this autumn/winter.
On arrival we found nine Spoonbill, a dozen or more Wood Sandpipers plus more Common and Green Sandpipers. A couple of Greenshank added to the totals along with a couple of Marsh Harriers and an array of other waders and Geese.

Wells north pools
Wells north pools
Wood Sandpiper
After enjoying the reserve for a couple of hours we headed further west to Titchwell were we again found good quantity and variety on offer. Nineteen Spoonbill and a single Curlew Sandpiper along with all the other waders on offer made it a special visit where we again saw Wood/Green and Common Sandpipers which underlines the massive full Norfolk has seen over the last few days.

Juvenile Spoonbill at Titchwell
On the way home we stopped to admire the Stone Curlews at Cavenham and found a single Wheatear here too to round of a very good days birding.

Year list now 270 

Saturday 3 August 2019

Always birding

So I had some time away with my grandson after the wedding enjoying trips into the Lake district, the north Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales where we enjoyed some stunning views and lovely time together. We had lunch at the highest pub in England, walked along some superb rivers and saw some awesome waterfalls including High Force and the little guy really enjoyed Beatrix Potter World and paddling in the rivers.

On one drive through Teesdale we watched a male Merlin chase and catch a Mipit which was great but I enjoyed the small fast moving stream in the town which held a few Dippers and also had breeding Spotted Flycatchers to entertain me. Often the best birding is right on your doorstep.

Despite looking I failed to find any Whinchat which surprised me but the village had lots of breeding Swift using the old houses and the access to their loft space well. The screaming of thirty plus Swift was good to hear as I enjoyed an occasional beer outside the Golden Fleece of an evening.

Year list still just 269 and in need of a big August push.

The Spotted Flycatcher 
Red Grouse enjoying the last couple of weeks before the 12th and the gloom that brings
If you'll pardon the pun "The light was awful"
My best ever August total is 272 so four ticks needed to better that but I'm hoping to be nearer 280 by the end of August this year with a little luck.

Previous August ticks include such little gems as 

Sabines Gull
Red-backed Shrike
Spotted Crake
Baird's Sandpiper
Balearic Shearwater
Pec Sand
Alpine Swift
Red-necked Phalarope
Melodious Warbler
Stilt Sandpiper

so there's always hope.