Monday 28 February 2022

Minsmere RSPB

We travelled up the A12 to Minsmere yesterday hoping to connect with the long stating Lesser Yellowlegs and we got lucky when we jammed straight onto it at first light although views were distant in the scope so no pictures. A smart pair of Smew entertained me for a while as did a Stonechat in the dunes but in the strong blustery winds the Dartfords were much more difficult, Dad had a brief in flight view and Jimmy heard one but I didn't get a sniff.


A walk around to the Bittern hide gave good although distant views of several displaying Marsh Harriers and a single Bittern was put up by passing Red Deer. At the Sand Martin bank we enjoyed watching two Adders but views weren't great as they remained mostly hidden in the bracken.



Marsh Harrier

Red deer


A second walk around the reserve failed to get better views of the Lesser Yellowlegs although I did get a very brief view of what I thought was the bird as it flew from South scrape towards Lucky pool where it was reported again later.

A stop off at Landguard on the way back down the A12 gave another year tick with a couple of Purple Sandpipers at the point although photography was difficult with the harsh lighting conditions. Back at the car park by the cafe a spotted a couple of Med Gulls both ringed by what I think is the North Thames ringing group. The rings weren't easy to read but one looked to have the number 2722 on it so I've sent it in hoping to learn a little more of it if possible.

Med Gull

Med Gull

Med Gull 2722

Purple Sandpiper at Landguard

Year list now 164 (3 above my Jan/Feb averages for the last decade)

Thursday 24 February 2022

White-tailed Eagle update

The Roy Dennis foundation has been in touch with information relating to my Eagle sighting at Cockley Cley yesterday. The bird is known as G463 is a male and was the first of the IOW eagles to cross the English channel last year where it spent the summer wandering from France to Denmark.

Last years sighting at Lakenheath was of a female bird known as G466 and she moved up through Norfolk and went all the way to Scotland where she remains according to latest data.

for more detail please visit The Roy Dennis Foundation 

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Day in the Brecks

We'd been waiting for a half decent day to go looking for Goshawks but with three named storms in the last week or so things hadn't looked good but on checking the forecast for today it looked as though we'd finally have a break in the the weather with sunny dry spells predicted and with winds dropping to around 20mph so we arranged a meet and Robert drove us to Santon Downham where we arrived around 7.15am this morning. The walk down to the river gave good views of several Woodlark which were in full song and a real delight to hear so early in the season. We made our way down the river to the usual Lesser Pecker area and Rob spotted a single bird which hung around long enough for us all to get a view. For the next hour or so we watched both male and female bird showing on and off with an almost constant drumming. 

Following the success of this first stop we made our way to the local Goshawk area and set up to scope the tree line with a few like minded people and it wasn't long before we were enjoying some terrific Goshawk action with birds displaying, mobbing Buzzards and even a large female bird sitting in a pine giving fantastic scope views. After a couple of hours we decided to leave but another birder called us back with news of a White-tailed Eagle flying along the tree line. I quickly grabbed the scope and managed views of the bird as it left the area attracting a lot of attention from the local Buzzards. The bird is more than likely one of the IOW released population and hopefully I'll find out more in good time. We  also  saw a large flock of mixed finches including many Brambling and there are still a few Fieldfare in the area.

Our last stop was Lynford where a small group had gathered around the Ivy near the carpark to watch a Firecrest and after a short wait we also managed good views. At the feeders we found a single Hawfinch with several Brambling and Yellowhammers. A walk to the paddock gave distant views of a single Hawfinch although four were reported by other birders today. Siskin, Redwing, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Treecreeper made up the best of the rest to close out a fabulous days birding in the Brecks.

Year list now 161

The local Cattle 

Firecrest thinking about showing itself

Firecrest at Lynford

Goshawk (looked a lot better in the scope)

Hawfinch, Brambling and Yellowhammers

Lesser Pecker

Marsh Tit


Friday 18 February 2022

Second visit to the American Robin

This being the only American Robin I've ever seen and being reasonably close to home I decided to make a second visit yesterday. I arrived at 8.15am and found the cul-de-sac busier than I'd expected with perhaps twenty others on sight and I guess during my stay a total of sixty or so came and went. The locals remain tolerant none more so than the couple that allow a constant presence of birders and toggers at their front fence overlooking their house at close range, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with this arrangement myself.

The Robin came into the garden for about two minutes every hour and spent the majority of time feeding on worms in the paddock with the Blackbirds although the Blackbirds weren't too fond of it. It appears that the Robin sadly now has some damage to it's right leg and is in obvious discomfort so rarely puts weight on the limb.

The go fund me page set up for the local food bank stands at over £2500 now so some good can come of these twitches although the irony of the finder doing a three mile green year list only to unlease the carbon of this twitch isn't lost on me. 

I struggled to find a space to point my camera at the bird so managed only a couple of shots when it first came in along with a single roof shot and a few heavily cropped efforts of it in the paddock with very challenging direct light.

Good to see Graham J again along with John P and very good to bump into Dave A from Bempton having not seen him since we dipped a Brown Shrike a good few years back now.
Six hours on site and although I didn't quite get the shots I'd hoped for I did improve on my day one efforts.

Feeding in the paddock

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

Waited on the roof a few seconds before dropping onto the berries to feed

Wednesday 9 February 2022

American Robin in Eastbourne

The joy of birding is that you never quite know what to expect next and yesterday the 'what's gonna be next' question was answered when an American Robin was found in Eastbourne although not reported until 3.45pm so we didn't have time to travel but I quickly agreed with the Jims that we'd go today in the hope that it would stay overnight. We arrived for first light to find around forty birders on site and somebody had already reported the bird having been present although nobody on site knew of the report but with the help of a thermal imager somebody had the bird or what they thought was the bird in a bush between the garages. It's fair to say the information coming our way was a bit mixed however within ten minutes the American Robin had slipped out of the bush in question and dropped to the floor before flying out of sight behind the garages. The bird remained hidden feeding on berries before flying to the fields behind the houses where it would be seen on and off for the next couple of hours to the relief of the guys arriving throughout. 

American Robin

The twitch

It was great to meet lot's of old pals and some new ones and the locals were a delight too with their polite requests to move so they could come and go. There wasn't a cross word all morning from any quarter but I'm sure this will be tested should the bird linger a while and I guess the weekend will see higher numbers of visitors if it's still there.

We moved on and with info from Geoff K. we visited the golden arches at Polegate where the Hooded Crow gave us a bonus year tick. We then wasted a bit of time in Eastbourne before taking the short trip across to Iford where we managed to scope the Tundra Beans with the White-fronts in a distant field.

Hooded Crow

Eastbourne beach

Hooded Crow

American Robin was right up there with my most wanted birds and it didn't disappoint.
Great bird, good crowd and friendly residents and all that less than two hours from home, what's not to like.

Year list now 156
Life list now 427

Saturday 5 February 2022

Staying local

I've stayed local this week on the few days I've managed to escape my domestic duties for long enough to enjoy some birding and yesterday I had an hour at KGV in Chingford where a quick walk the length of south basin delivered a year tick with a single Black-necked Grebe and a scan of North basin gave decent views of Red-necked Grebe and a couple of drake Scaup.

Black-necked Grebe

This morning I headed up the A12 to Abberton with the Jims and found a massive mixed flock of Tufted and Pochard and Jim picked out a single drake Red-crested Pochard whilst Dad found a couple of Snipe for me to point the camera at. Six Cattle Egret were feeding in fields at the farm and we picked out a very distant Diver sp. from the church car park.

At Abberton Church we picked out both Slavonian Grebe and Red-necked Grebe plus eight Bewick's Swans and a Kestrel entertained us whilst we scanned the distant waters. Back at the Layer Breton causeway we connected with the Long-tailed Duck among the Tufted ducks and a Red-head Smew was close enough for a few pictures. We counted at least seven Great Egrets and the hybrid Baikal/Teal was also in the area. A flock of 31 White-fronted Geese carried a single Pink-footed Goose too to make for a fabulous morning visit to this special place in our home county.

Year list now 153

The hybrid Baikal / Teal

Cattle Egret

White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese




Thursday 3 February 2022

150 up for 2022

A trip to Watercress LNR this week delivered tick 149 with three Redpolls visiting the feeders on the reserve by the entrance gate. A difficult reserve to park at as all the surrounding streets are permit only but worth the effort of finding it with great views of a couple of male Bullfinch and a Siskin along with the Lesser Redpolls.

Today I saw my first Blackcap of the year when a female visited to feast on the apples I've been putting out for the Blackbirds and Tits. This brought up the 150th tick of the year but regardless of the ticks it was just great to have the species visiting the garden again.



Lesser Redpolls

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Mean Averages

I was bored this evening so took a nerdy /geeky look at my mean averages of birds seen by month over the last decade and the results are in...

January        146                
February       15  (.4)              
March           15  (.3)
April             31  (.3)
May              21
June                9
July                5  (.5)
August           8  (.7)
September      6  (.4)
October          6  (.4)
November      4  (.7)
December       3  (.8)

Total            273  (.5)

The spring movement helps but otherwise after January it's always a slog for sure with some months where I find it difficult to get a single tick in a week.

Not the most motivational thing I've ever done but at least I can say that January 2022 was above average (148/146) and I know anything over 16 in February will be equally positive. 

Onwards and Upwards 

Next bored day will see me set out my earliest date by warned!