Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A trip "up north" delivers two lifers

With a meeting in Darlington I took the opportunity to stop off for a couple of ticks on the way up.
First at Eyebrook reservoir Leicester I found myself climbing the gate and walking along the plantation path stopping to view the hundreds of Tufted Ducks in the hope that the Ring Necked Duck would be amongst them.
Not the best welcome!
Plantation Path Eyebrook.

I walked the whole reservoir and scanned over three hundred TD's with no joy. Plenty of Goldeneye, Grebes and Coots but no RND. On the walk back the rain started to fall so my pace quickened but for reasons un known I still decided to stop half way to scan the TD's again and BINGO! The Ring Necked Duck revealed itself and the 36mile detour proved fruitful. I walked back in the rain much happier having seen the target. Back at the car park I watched Coal Tit's and a GS Woodpecker on the feeders before heading back to the A1 to continue the journey north.
From here I moved on to Anglers CP in Yorkshire. I visited this place before at which time I dipped out on the American Wigeon.
Anglers Country Park

I make my way round to the main hide and as I get there a SEO flies up in front of me from the path...a good start!
In the hide I find the American Wigeon roosting on a small island close by which is great as the bird then gets up to walk about before swimming around the island to give great views and then flying to the other side of the lake. Also here are LT Duck, Greater Scaup, four Whooper Swan and at least 18 Goosanders.

I leave for my meeting well pleased that the journey provided this opportunity for me.
Two lifers and my year list moves to 277.

Now back to thoughts of Strategy , ROS and EBIT!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Windy trip to Kent in search of Hen Harrier

We headed off down to Kent today after a night of high winds reaching up to 60mph.
On arrival at Reculver the winds were still strong and the QE11 bridge was closed for our journey south.
Reculver Towers
 The wind made it feel colder too but although windy and cold it was bright so we were thankful for that.

The walk from Reculver Towers  to Coldharbour Lagoon and back revealed a single Red Throated Diver as the highlight although there were large numbers of Brent Geese, Cormorants and Gulls on the sea and flocks of Wigeon were on the move too.

We noted Redshank on the Oyster farm and again on the lagoon along with a single Curlew.
Along the beach we had Turnstone, Grey Plover, Shelduck, Ringed Plover, Meadow Pipits, Wagtails and Finches.

Reculver was our warm up as we'd headed down today in search of Hen Harrier so we made our way to the watch point at Capel Fleet and arrived at around 11am.

Starling at Reculver
At Capel Fleet we had what we first considered to be a R L Buzzard but doubt remains over this with a pale Common Buzzard still a possibility.
Several Marsh Harrier hunt over the fields and a Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel show close by and then the target birds arrive in the shape of two Ring Tailed Hen Harriers. The birds hunt low over the fields giving great scope views. When we set out we'd hoped for a male Hen Harrier but these two birds showed so well it was hard to be disappointed.

A good day in the field with good views although we leave still debating the RLB.
We'll just have to go back and check and look for that male Hen at the same time.....any excuse!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Short Eared Owls at Burwell Fen

Decided against the twitch today and opted for a lie in and an an afternoon watching Short Eared Owls at Burwell Fen in Cambridgeshire.

Burwell Lode

So we headed up the M11 and within an hour we've parked up and crossed the bridge over Burwell Lode to scan the Fen for any activity.

300+ Golden Plover, 200+ Lapwing gulls and Crows are seen as we scan.

As we start to walk across the Fen we spot our first Short Eared Owl as it hunts along the river bank.

After a while another owl flies by this time a little close as it quarters the field.
in all we see four birds at one time so safe to say the site holds at least four birds this year.
SEO's are just one of those birds I never get tired of watching and it's safe to say I'll be back for more
Short Eared Owl at Burwell Fen
Egrets and a Heron fly over head and we see Pipits, Reed Bunting and a Stonechat as we watch the owls.
On the way out we see Thousands of Corvids going to roost, the largest roost I've ever seen and quite a spectacle.

Reed bed
Locals call this "cocked up bridge"

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Local at Lea Valley

Quick trip to the local patch today with little to report.
An hour in the Bittern hide produced very little, Water Rail calling but not seen and a  G S Woodpecker visited the feeder in front of the hide. Bitterns have been reported recently but are not showing as they usually do in front of the hide.
The Bittern Hide

The walk to the Grand Weir Hide gave good views of Goldcrest, a Buzzard sitting in a tree by the barn and a few Redwings in the bushes along the path.
300 + Jackdaw around the farm and a small group of Egyptian Geese in the field.
Also seen were Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Gadwall along with all the usual suspects. Bird of the day was a Peregrine Falcon sat high up on pilon 5.

Back home in time to make the good lady breakfast but still good to get out for a while.

Contemplating a Twitch tomorrow but I'll see how I feel later before deciding if it's a goer or not.

Great Tit
Blue Tit

Friday, 16 November 2012

Pallas's Warbler Dungeness Lighthouse

Old Lighthouse Dungeness

I popped down to Dungeness today in search of a little cracker that's spent a couple of days in the Old Lighthouse Garden.
I figured that with it being so foggy the bird would have stuck over night and I was right on arrival there were a dozen or so birders who revealed they had seen the bird but not for a few minutes.

I walked around the back of the lighthouse garden and peered over the fence to see a small bird fly into the centre bushes. Once I had it in the bins it was obviously the target.....A Pallas's warbler.
The other birders managed to get on it which was pleasing too.
The bird came close and even at one point flew into the bush next to me but was quickly out of site until it flew back to the bushes in the middle of the garden.

This is a lifer for me (I know Tart!) but what a little smasher.

I watched the bird for half an hour or so before returning to work to carry out the deeds for the day but with a smile on the face thanks to finding the little guy and having it show so well for me.

Bird 275 for the year and 308 now on the life list.
onwards and upwards!

Monday, 12 November 2012

My nuts prove popular with the locals

I moved my tree stump today and put a few peanuts on it and it proved to be a real winner with the locals.
Squirrel visits my nut table
First a pair of Squirrels quickly found it and feasted well picking up the nuts and then trying to find hiding places all over the garden for their winter stash.

A Magpie dropped in and took a few before the dog saw him off..she has rules about the size of bird allowed in our garden and Magpies are just the wrong side of acceptance.

Shortly after a Jay paid the stump a visit and I was able to grab a couple of shots.
Cracking bird!


Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and a single Marsh Tit also dropped by and for the first time this winter a few Chaffies dropped in. (Up to today only the local pair have been coming in but today at least eight birds came in to feed.....when will they bring a Brambling with them?)
Ten or more Goldfinch arrived along with Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Starling and a Jackdaw.
Over head I saw Rook, Crow and Gulls

I'm going to spend some time and money stocking this table throughout the winter and see a) what I can temp to visit it and b) If I can catch anything with the camera on it.
Day one and I've caught Squirrel and Jay so not a bad start.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Penduline Tit at Grove Ferry

 We made the 80 mile trip down to Grove Ferry this morning in search of Penduline Tits that have been seen there during the last few days with four reported only yesterday.

Grove Ferry at dawn
On arrival at 7.30am the sun is still rising over the reserve. We park in the Grove Ferry Inn car park (£1.50 all day parking) Just across the road is the starting point to the reserve. Grove Ferry is the back end of Stodmarsh.

We walk along the trail past the mound and the first hide and head towards David Feast hide.
Along the path we hear what we think is a Penduline Tit. I check my mobile app and it sounds a good match.
After a while we hear Cettis warbler, Wren and Bearded Tit calling but we fail to see any of the target birds so we walk further along and as we get to the other side of the trail to the hide again we hear what sounds like Penduline Tit calling but still no sign.

I walk on further and get good views of Stonechat and I can hear Bearded Tit in the reeds.

Grove Ferry Reed bed
Lot's of Lapwing fly over, a Buzzard soars over high above the trees and hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing fly back and forth across the reserve in search of berries to feed on. After an hour or so I decide to try the hide where I get good views of Water Rail, Snipe, Mallard, Teal, Coot, Gadwall and Grey Heron but no sign of Penduline Tit.
I head back out to the reed bed and scope and scan some more.
By this point Jim has gone off in search of Water Pipit and I'm standing alone when a bird flies into the reed bed. I'm not sure what it is so I stand another thirty minutes to see if it will come out and I'm joined by another birder before long. Then the bird flies up and out of the reedbed and we follow it losing it as it crosses the bushes around the hide.
The Reeds
As we walk back three other birders say they too saw it fly across and had just heard Penduline Tit too.
As I scan I finally catch a single bird flying low over the reeds and it's clearly the target.
I tried to get the other birders on it and again it popped up and flew a few yards before dropping back out of view. Nobody else seemed to get on it but I was satisfied I'd seen Penduline Tit in flight.
I headed off to the mound hoping to get a raised view and perhaps see the bird or birds feeding in the area but it was not to be despite giving it another couple of hours.
A Bittern was seen but I missed it whilst scanning for Tits.
Several groups of Snipe flew over the reserve but as the sky clouded over and the rain came I headed back to the hide.  On the walk back to the car I picked up views of Reed Bunting and a Cettis Warbler

It was wet windy and grey today but I still managed to bag a brief view of the target and move my year list to 274.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Weekend in Norfolk

The wife booked a cottage for the weekend as a treat and invited my two boys and their girls along.
The cottage was in North Creake with great views over the Holkham Estate.
Brancaster Staithe
The garden had Barn Owls visiting it and from the kitchen window we saw Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk, Fieldfare along with a host of more common garden visitors.
Standing in the garden on Friday evening I heard my first Long Eared Owl of 2012 followed by Tawny Owl calling. On the drive from the cottage to Cley on Saturday morning I saw a Little Owl and no fewer than fifteen Barn Owls.
This is Owl country for sure and I add Short Eared Owl before the mornings out too.
At Stiffkey I pick up distant Harriers one of which is called Hen Harrier by other birders present but for me it really was too distant to say.
Cley revealed a couple of Little Auks,Lot's of Guillemot, Gannet,  Marsh Harriers and a nice Kingfisher.
Brancaster Staithe
As a family we had a really nice walk through Holkham Pines and down to the sea where we found the Sanderling very entertaining as ever.
At Brancaster Staithe the Ringed Plover came close and a couple of Merganser dived in the bay.
I took the family to Morston Quay where I found a Spotted Redshank showing well and at Wells I spotted a Shag while the boys tried to catch a crab.
Seven Waxwing flew over Holkham as we approached and Geese numbers increase with every trip.
The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying each others company, eating well...a little too well , having a bit to drink and keeping the fire flaming.

The boys were kind and took a general interest in the birds particularly enjoying the Barn Owls and a Buzzard that kindly sat in view from the garden.

Shag at Wells

Sanderling at Holkham

Spotted Redshank Morston Quay


I think it's safe to say all enjoyed the weekend and would like to return.

My son took a few shots whilst we were away......No idea who got him interested in photography????
good shots though........

Holkham Gap
Holkham beach
Tia's print