Sunday, 18 March 2018

Two new additions to the garden list

The last addition to my garden list was Stock Dove back in November 2016 so it was a surprise to add two in one day.

Whilst watching the regular activity at the feeders with Goldfinch, Great & Blue Tits, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrows, Starlings etc I glanced up to see what at first looked like a large gull heading over which is very normal but a closer look revealed the bird to be a magestic Red Kite.
It drifted left before turning to fly back over the house towards Epping. I've been saying for a while that it would be just a matter of time before it was added.

Later whilst again watching the feeders I noticed a male Reed Bunting on the ground which then sat on a bush briefly before taking flight. It returned for a short time but never really settled.

Two great garden ticks moving that list to a modest 63.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Snowy Owl Snettisham

I tried to take the old fella for the Owl yesterday but he had other plans so we put the trip on hold until this morning. We set off at 5am and arrived at the coast around 7am stopping briefly to tick Fulmar from Hunstanton Cliffs and to grab a shot of an obliging Barn Owl as we drove through Snettisham.

With the Arctic Owl seen at Thornham all day Saturday having also been seen at Heacham and Burnham Deepdale in previous days we decided Thornham harbour would be our first stop and we scanned hard from there with little joy. At Titchwell we walked the reserve finding lot's of Scaup and Long-tailed Duck out on the sea but little else of note. As we did a second lap trying to tick Red-crested Pochard news came in that the Owl had been seen at Snettisham so it was all systems go.

We rushed back to the car drove the eight miles to Snettisham parked up and marched the two miles (40 mins walk at a good pace) to the end of the reserve to find a small gathering on the boardwalk policed well by a couple of RSPB wardens or volunteers. We now had the target Snowy Owl sitting in front of us on a grassy ridge less than 100 yards away and there it remained for the remainder of our visit.
Life tick for the old man and a great year tick for me. (I had previously seen the 2001 Felixstowe ship assisted grubby bird through a hole in a fence)

What a bird!



A little bit special
Snowy Owl Snettisham
"Showed well"

Barn Owl......just slipped in

What a bird
Lot's of familiar faces around today on what turned out to be a very smart twitch and full marks to the staff at Snettisham who several times had to rush down the path to stop people with free running dogs from getting near the bird but managed the crowd well with friendly respectful attendance.

Year list now 169

Sunday, 4 March 2018

And he's off............

The Fieldfare popped in this morning for one more breakfast before taking to the skies allowing the resident Blackbirds and Song Thrush back in the garden to feed.

The wintering male Blackcap was joined briefly by another male and female but like the Fieldfare he defended his garden well and they quickly left without as much as a bite from his stock of apples.

Great to see the winter Thrushes but they do play havoc with the local birds who have come to depend on the garden for survival so I suppose we should be thankful the white stuff cleared in good time to enable normal service as far as the Blackbirds are concerned and good to see the Song Thrush making a few trips to the garden again today too.

The Fieldfare and The Apple
The Blackcap and The Apple
The Blue Tit and The Apple (Glad to see these little guys survived the last week)
Until next Time......

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Fieldfare drops in

With the recent cold blast the Fieldfares have decided they like the menu on offer in my garden to the point where they have taken over. The resident Blackbird and Song Thrush are chased off as the Fieldfare defends his new short term territory whilst he ignores all the other birds.

Smart bird!

The male Blackcap has also been putting in a regular shift feeding on the apples.


Light was poor today and due to work I missed the shots I wanted of the Fieldfares in the snow but still nice to see them visit the garden today.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Ross's Gull at Radipole Lake RSPB

Every birder will tell you he has a few target birds he'd really like to see and for me the Ross's Gull would be very close to the top of that list so when news came of an adult bird spending the last couple of days in Dorset I conceived the plan to get Saturday morning off work and head down the M3 hoping I could find the little Arctic visitor.

Ross's Gull at Radipole RSPB
Ross's Gull
I picked up Jim and set off just after 5am arriving at Ferrybridge on the causeway to Portland just after 8am. News came out that the bird had dropped in at Lodmoor so we turned the car around and headed there to find hardly any cars in the car park which surprised us. I climbed the bank to scan the scrape flushing a Firecrest on the way and found only Med Gull of interest on the scrape. I returned to the car which Jim had been looking after and we checked the phone only to find that the bird had taken off almost immediately so we joined the other birders back at Ferrybridge and waited for a couple of hours hoping the tiny Gull would join us.

under attack
The temperature struggled to get above freezing as we waited enjoying the many Red-breasted Mergansers, Shag, Oystercaters, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and I picked out a single Rock Pipit to give Jim a year tick but after a couple of hours we still hadn't seen the target and the crowd had all but disappeared to various cafe's etc to warm up.

second and third winter Glaucs

We stopped off at Radipole and enjoyed a coffee whilst we scanned the gulls there  but with no sign of the bird we left for Lodmoor. We found the two reported Spoonbill and as we snapped a couple of images a message appeared saying "Ross's Gull again at Lodmoor at 11.34am" now as we were at Lodmoor the panic set in and as we rushed back round to the scrape the message changed to Radipole so it was a race to get back in the cars and the two mile drive. We pulled into the car park and found the bridge next to the visitor centre already filling with the twitch. We joined them and quickly got on the target as it roosted on a small shingle island a few yards from the bridge. It sat there for around 50 minutes giving most of the birders that had made the trip to Dorset plenty of time to connect.

Snipe.....never seen so many in a day!

When the bird flew we had a quick look for the plastic Merganser then left for a bit more Lodmoor on the way home where we found two stunning Glaucous Gulls to finish a terrific day in Dorset.

The bridge under pressure
The Ross's on the small island with the Blackheads.

Year list now 167  Life list now 393

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