Friday 15 July 2022

Bonaparte's Gull at Oare marsh for a ninth year

We had three plans for today.....Bird Fair, Honey Buzzards at Swanton Novers or the more local journey to Oare Marsh and the local journey won us over. 

We arrived at 6.15am picking up Barn Owl and Turtle Dove straight away to give the Jims a couple of late year ticks. A Garden Warbler was a surprise tick as I don't think we've seen one before at Oare. Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Lapwing, Avocets, a couple of Dunlin and a single Golden Plover made up the waders on east flood. A Garganey was reported by another birder but looking into the sun we couldn't find it. We walked along the bank but couldn't find the Bonaparte's Gull but did pick out a few Whimbrel and some Curlew along with an Oystercatcher to add to the wader count and a single Med gull too. A walk around the flood delivered a few more of the expected ticks but two Raven calling from the pylons were another first for Oare and then several Corn Buntings were heard and a couple seen for what I think is another first for Oare.

Bonaparte's Gull at Oare (always distant)

As we got back to the hide I picked up the Bonaparte's Gull feeding out on the mud. This bird has been returning to Oare every year since 2013 and I've connected with it every year since 2013 apart from 2019. I've also seen three other Bonaparte's gulls in the UK with one at Abberton in 2019, Eastbourne in 2013 and Crossness in 2012.

On the journey home we stopped at a church that has held Spotted Flycatchers before but this year we weren't so lucky.

Juvenile Green Woodpecker

year list now 225
onwards and upwards!

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Turkestan Shrike at Bempton

On 27th June news broke of a Red-tailed Shrike being found at Bempton Cliffs RSPB but it was quickly lost to view after presumably coming in off the sea. On 28th the bird was refound a mile or so from Bempton Cliffs at the local piggery before moving to Wandale farm on 29th June were it appeared to settle. A fee of £10 was negotiated with the farm owner to allow birders access and so the games began with birders from all over the country trying to connect with what I believe is only the eighth record for Britain.

I had wanted to visit Bempton at some point in an attempt to connect with the summering Albatross again so it wasn't too much of a strain when I found myself with a free day on 5th July and let the Jims know of my intentions. They agreed on the plan and we set off at 2am for the 220 mile 4 hour trip up north. The A1 and the M62 night closures made the journey an hour longer so we arrived at 7am. I dropped the Jims at the track to the farm and continued on to the RSPB car park which meant I had to walk about half a mile back to the track. The walk along the track was about a mile I suppose but I caught up with the Jims and paid the £10 to get in. A couple of cars were parked on the grass at the entrance to the farm and another had driven up the drive and parked in the farm where the farmer said he was happy for people with mobility issues to park there for a short visit. I wish I'd known that when I dropped Dad off at the track. A birder that had parked at the farm did offer to drop Dad back at the car park which was nice.

I asked the farmer which charity the money was going to but he said it hadn't been decided yet.

The twitch

Once paid I was on the bird straight away as it sat in a small line of bushes behind the barn and I enjoyed good views for around an hour grabbing a few shots too. The bird has a mark on it's chest which seems to fit with the bird seen in Holland back in May this year and the bird appears to be in moult so could be in the area quite a while.

Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike

After enjoying the bird we walked further up the track towards the cliffs and started our visit proper to Bempton Cliffs RSPB. The Albatross was on the sea close to Flamborough but we failed to see it and it never came in until late evening by which time we were travelling home. The Gannets, Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwakes covered the cliffs scattered with good numbers of Puffin and Fulmar. Two Shag were seen for another year tick and there were plenty of Tree Sparrows. Bempton is a firm favourite of ours and it's a real shame its so far from home.


Third year Gannet





Tree Sparrow

A Peregrine was seen and others had a few Manx Shearwaters but I missed them.

Fingers crossed I get to return and see Albert again at some point

On a positive note and god knows we all need one, Bempton at this point seems to have been spared the effects of Bird flu with wardens reporting no evidence of the disease so far.

Year list now 224

Life list now 432

Sunday 3 July 2022

Half year review

Well my time birding may be restricted some this year but I've still managed a half decent six months with 221 year ticks and FIVE life ticks.

The Belted Kingfisher made the life list some five months after its that's casual twitching!

Belted Kingfisher at Roach Bridge

Whilst in the area we diverted to add Snow Goose with what I consider my best candidate for a wild bird.

Yeah that white dot is a Snow Goose

American Robin 

The American Robin was a much anticipated bird for me and I enjoyed two visits to see it down in East Sussex only a couple of hours from home.

The Eleonora's Falcon at Worth marsh in Kent

Eleonora's Falcon was on my dipped list after I tried for the Winterton bird without any joy, a twitch I new was destined for failure before I left home but such is the bird I had to try. I had much better luck with the bird that lingered at Worth spending two days watching it.

Lastly I added the Sardinian pictures of this one from Kent which I spent a few hours with hearing it for much of the time but seeing it in flight only and very briefly. One of my most disappointing and reluctant ticks. Hopefully I'll see the next one a little better.

The first half of 2022 has also given me good views of the Bee Eaters in Norfolk and a couple of local Hoopoes worth mentioning along with the recent Honey Buzzards in Norfolk.

So all things considered a decent return for the limited time available and the life list now reaches 431 

I still have one eye on a day out at Bempton hoping that the Shrike remains for a while longer and that the Albatross might bless me with another sighting this year.

Onwards and upwards