Sunday, 18 February 2018

Spotted Sandpiper at Holme Pierrepont

Saturday saw me visiting my bro and his new arrivals. Two little smashers only 4lb odd each but both girls and mum doing well. A stop on the way home at the "pie pub" in Stapleford Abbot was followed by another stop in Theydon to bag the old fella a year tick with calling Tawny Owls.

This morning I decided to treat the old boy again with the chance of adding his first lifer of 2018 and as such we drove up north to Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire after picking him up at 5.15 for a nice early start. Arriving at the venue we couldn't miss the canoe centre and driving in we quickly found the rafting area. A very short walk down the edge of the rapids to marker 750 and we're scanning for the piper. I found one but to our amazement the bird was only a Common so the old mans lifer is put on hold if only for a few minutes when Jimmy pointed out another bird and this one turned out to be the juvenile Spot Sand and it showed very well in the grey overcast conditions.

Spotted Sandpiper
Spot sand
After we'd had a little papping session we left it be and walked up the canoe section to find the wintering Long-tailed Duck. Again we quickly got on the bird and managed a few shots despite the sun struggling to break the clouds at all which made for a testing time with the camera.

Long-tailed Duck
Long Tailed Duck at Holme Pierrepont
On the way back down the road we stopped firstly at Kelham Bridge where we found three pairs of Bullfinch but failed to hear or see any Willow Tit. Last stop following a tip from some locals was a small reserve near Lea Marston where after a short walk we did manage to add Willow Tit to the year list.

Year list now 163

Monday, 12 February 2018

A few more from the weekends trip to Gloucestershire

Wild Boars in the Forest of Dean
Not easy getting any shutter speed in the gloom of the canopy
Where does the plant end and the bird start...great camo!
Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit at Longford

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Penduline Tit wintering at Longford in Gloucestershire

An early start as is the norm in these limited daylight days saw us arriving in Longford just after first light this morning. Parking in the small car park at Plock Court we could see three birders had arrived even earlier than us and it appeared they had the bird in site so we approached with care and from behind the others managed good views of the little cracker. With time the bird came to feed on the mace heads around the small pool and gave us great opportunity to grab some images.

Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit
A little star
A Stonechat also sat on the reeds as if to say don't forget me guys so I grabbed a couple of quick shots of it too.

We then drove the eighteen miles to the Forest of Dean and having told the Jims to keep an eye open for wild pig I was shocked to actually find four feeding by the road as we drove by. I pulled over and we managed some images to record our first encounter with Wild Boars in the forest despite several visits. The Boars paid little interest in us or passing dog walkers save one small charge that had us running for cover. We later found another two as we drove away from Parkend where we'd seen three Hawfinch but with the best pitches taken up by committed photographers we moved on to let them grab the shots they wanted.

Wild Boar
Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean

Our next stop was the New Fancy watchpoint and we managed some really nice scope views of no fewer than five Goshawk with a couple displaying really well for us. Ravens came and went and Buzzards soared overhead. We tried for the Great Grey Shrike at Crabtree but dipped on the location taking the wrong path or atleast we think we took the wrong path. I did manage a year tick on the walk though with several Siskin feeding in the Alders along the footpath.

A fab day in Gloucestershire giving four year ticks and a memorable encounter with the pigs of the forest.

Year list now 159

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Eldernell for Short-eared Owls

With Shorties being thin on the ground this year and none showing at our usual hits including Capel Fleet, Wallasea, Two Tree Island, Rainham and even Burwell drying up we headed a little further north to Eldernell in Cambridgeshire. Driving down Eldernell Road we arrived at the small car park overlooking the Nene Washes and quickly found at least nine Common Crane feeding in the fields.
Common Buzzard and Marsh Harriers hunted and massive flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover flew around the flooded areas but the Owls were playing hard to get until Jimmy picked a distant bird out in the scope to give us a year tick. After a short rain shower another Owl came out and sat on the path briefly before returning to the cover of grass and out of the biting wind.

We left and headed back down the A1 stopping at RSPB Sandy were we enjoyed good views of twenty plus Brambling feeding around the car park to give me another tick on the year list which now sits at 155.

Male Brambling
Great Spot
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A closer look at the Horned Lark on Staines Reservoir

Having seen the Staines Lark before Christmas at some distance through a scope I thought today could be the day I get to see it a little better so headed round the orbital car park arriving at the reservoir around 9am. The weather was pretty grim with grey skies, light rain and a biting cold wind but the bird showed well and I managed a few images.

American horned Lark
Little cracker
Horned Lark

On the way home I stopped to watch the Redwings feeding on the green at Theydon Bois.

Redwing at Theydon
Must also add that the local Wagtail roost seems to be growing with what looks like getting on for a hundred birds now finding the tree to their liking. The tree has a street like almost in the branches which I guess gives them some comfort and heat.

Wagtail Roost

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge Suffolk

So far 2018 has been a shocker for me on a personal level but I continue to find some comfort in my birding with the days in the field helping to clear the head a little and giving some balance to what is really starting to feel like the proverbial "annus horribillis"

Flying solo I headed up the A12 hoping to connect with the Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge and as I arrived at first light it was already feeding at the back of the flooded field between the bridge and the pub.

Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge in Suffolk
Glossy Ibis
Putting a gloss on it.
With the bird a bit distant I headed back to Minsmere and walked down to Island Mere hide where a Bittern was showing as I entered the hide but slipped away just before reaching the front of the reed bed. Bearded Tits called but didn't sit and an Otter swam across in front of the hide.

As I drove back to Eastbridge both Red and Muntjac Deer crossed the road and on arrival back at the flooded field the Ibis was much closer and gave a few chances to capture the odd image of it.

On the way home I stopped again to check on the Redpolls at Hazlewood and wasn't disappointed as it showed well for a change feeding on the ploughed field with both Common and Lesser for company.

not so red

A decent mornings birding

Year list now 153

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Little Bunting in Walthamstow

We beat the rain this morning with an early start and had both the Little Bunting and Greater Scaup in the bag and made it home for 10am too before the rain fell and at 11am it's now snowing so looks a good decision to get up and out early.

We were lucky to get early access with our Thames Water permit otherwise we'd have needed to wait for the car park to open at 9.30am. (Wildlife reserve...9.30am really???)

Whilst making a coffee on getting home I had my first Blackcap of the year too when a female dropped into the garden to feed on my apples before getting spooked by a Woodpigeon.

so the year list now sits at 150 in 21 days and a reasonable start to 2018.

Distant Little Bunting
and a couple more of yesterdays little cracker

and not a meal worm in sight!