Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Red-necked Grebe at Pitsford

On my journey north yesterday I stopped off to look for the Red-necked Grebe at Pitsford Reservoir in Northampton. I quickly found the dam and after walking only a few feet out I spotted the target bird fishing about 50 yards out. I hoped it would drift closer but had to settle for a record shot.

Red-necked Grebe at Pitsford 
Turning to look behind me I found a Green Sandpiper feeding in the flooded paddock and a Wheatear on the fence before continuing my journey north to Preston. Whilst "up north" I visited Bolton Abbey and will have to return with my good lady when we have time. Goosanders were on the river here and although it looked perfect for Grey Wagtail and Dipper none were seen on my brief visit.
Bolton Abbey
My 230 mile journey home today called for another short diversion to connect with an Osprey at Rutland and I couldn't help but feel for the male bird as it sat lonely on it's perch waiting and hoping that it's partner would also make the return journey safely.

I also grabbed these House Sparrow shots on Sunday in the garden. By feeding all winter and summer I like to think I have helped establish a healthy family unit of House Sparrows and they continue to entertain us daily with their antics.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow close up!
Year list now 159

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Another blog with a Wheatear on it

Every blogging birder seems to have grabbed shots of the Northern Wheatears as they arrived this week so why should I be any different. Wheatears are terrific looking birds and as the males tend to arrive first you need to get out quick to snap them before they move on to breeding grounds. I visited Landguard where at least eight males were on the grassy area in front of the observatory. I plotted up in a small bunker and waited. The plan worked and eventually the birds came closer and I grabbed a few photographs with the below being my best effort.

Northern Wheatear at Landguard 23rd March 2014
Lot's of Linnets and Meadow Pipit flew around with this one Mipit coming close enough for a quick shot before it saw me and flew off.

Meadow Pipit at Landguard 23rd March 2014
I wondered around to look for the Black Redstart reported but failed to find it. A Ringed Plover was showing well on the beach but I left the other birders to pap that and concentrated on the Blackbird below instead.

I checked out the local gull roost hoping for a Yellow-legged Gull but couldn't find any having to settle for the adult Glauc instead. On returning home I had several Redpoll visiting the garden feeders for the first time this year....better late than never!

Lesser Redpoll
The above was taken in the garden today, Photoshop helped take the noisy background away to produce a nice image.

Another Redpoll on my garden feeder today

I have a strange week ahead of me with a two day work trip to Yorkshire tomorrow and our annual Scotland trip booked for Friday so only two days in the office.

Year list now at 156

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Suffolk wins over the GSC

We flipped a coin and ended up in Suffolk for the day instead of driving the 265 miles in search of the Greater Spotted Cuckoo in Wales and I have to say we had a good day. Starting on the heath we bagged a year tick without leaving the car when Dartford Warbler was seen sitting on top of a bush only a few feet from where we'd parked. On the same heath I got my second year tick when a Linnet flew in. Add a couple of deer showing along side a second  DW and a decent start to the day.

Dartford Warbler

We moved on to Minsmere where we enjoyed two more year ticks when a pair of Garganey decided to rest in front of North hide along side a Spotted Redshank. Bittern and Marsh Harrier put in an appearance from the Bittern hide before we went off in search of snakes. Along the track from Bittern to Island hide we located several Adders and enjoyed a few minutes getting up close and personal with a couple of them. Barnacle Goose was added to my year list before we got lucky and found three Caspian Gulls from East hide.

We visited Walberswick in search of Yellow-legged Gulls but failed to find any...or any we recognised as our target anyway. A nice day birding in Suffolk moving the year list to 155.

A couple of gulls shots for the hell of it........

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Scotland trip booked

It's that time of year again when Scotland calls so I've just booked the flights, the car and the cottage.
The boss has agreed the time off and the Jims are up for the cup. The wife has reluctantly allowed me a little time off for good behaviour so I'm all set for the 28th March. Bring it on!

Loch Garten

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Great Spotted Cuckoo at Giltar point in Pembrokeshire

note to self: "Don't be ridiculous it's only a bird, think about how many birds you could see locally instead of being trapped in the car for eight hours.......and it'll cost a small fortune and it may not be there".

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ring-necked Parakeet in Orpington

I found myself on yet another training course today down in Kent and managed to find a couple of minutes to capture this Ring-necked Parakeet.

Lot's of Redwing about too getting ready for their flight back home soon.

Ring-necked Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet

Monday, 10 March 2014

a few more from the weekend

Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit at Lakenheath
"Bearded Reedling"
Marsh Harrier
Water Rail
Lesser Redpoll
Reed Bunting 
Reed Bunting

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Lakenheath and Mayday Farm

We drove up the A11 today in search of Goshawk but as they rise a little later than us we diverted to Lakenheath first arriving on the reserve at 7am we had two Cranes fly over our heads before leaving the car park. We walked out to Joist Fen Hide with Cetti's warbler singing all over the reserve and three Kingfisher were seen along the river. At Joist Fen we quickly spotted Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk before seeing a couple of Buzzards soaring in the distance. A walk up the river bank gave us good views of two Cranes feeding on farmland and at least fifteen Whooper Swans in a nearby field for another year tick.
Bearded Tit at Lakenheath

Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit

Our walk back gave great views of several Bearded Tits with some stopping long even for the camera to come out and catch a couple of shots. A single Bittern was briefly seen and at the visitor centre a Water Rail showed really well as did the Reed bunting which were coming to the feeders.
Water Rail at Lakenheath
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
With our usual Goshawk hot spot out of bounds this year we made the trip down the A11 to Mayday Farm where we walked out to the first clearing hearing and seeing Woodlark along the way for yet another year tick, I bagged my first Goldcrest of 2014 and found a Redpoll and Mealy Redpoll drinking at the watering hole further down the track. Crossbills and a Brambling were seen but we were here for the Goshawks. Scanning the distant tree line we found three Common Buzzard and two Sparrowhawks but failed to see our target despite a couple of birders telling us they had been seen today although no display flights had been witnessed at all this year so maybe Mayday isn't holding a pair at present.

Regardless we had a good day in Suffolk and my year list has moved to 150.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


After a meeting today in Orpington I stopped to check the stone barges at Rainham on the way home.
I searched for Water Pipit but only found Rock and Scandinavian Rock Pipit to start with before landing a distant shot of what appears to be a Water Pipit roosting on the barges. A Kingfisher flashed along the river bank to give me a year tick. Cetti's Warbler sang from the car park bushes and a large flock of Goldfinch flew over. With the tide in all the gulls were out on the water but roosting on the barges were Teal, Gadwall, Mallard and Shelduck along with a single Redshank and Oystercatcher. Skylark sang and a Kestrel hunted along the tide line.  A quick chat with Dick J was an opportunity to put another name to a previously seem face.     Year list now at 143

Kestrel at Rainham
Water Pipit

Monday, 3 March 2014

Black Redstart at Reculver

Black Redstart at Reculver
Black Redstart at Reculver

Herring Gull ay Hythe
And with a little help from Photoshop

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Chinese Pond Heron finally draws us in

With a "PROBABLE" Chinese Pond Heron still being reported in Hythe we finally if not a little reluctantly plucked up the energy to twitch it. The bird is unlikely to get accepted as anything other than an escapee but just in case we thought we'd best see it.  We pulled into Turnpike Hill in Hythe for 7.30am and found about fifteen cars already parked up waiting for the bird to show.  After searching the local area we returned to Turnpike Hill before heading off and luckily as we parked up the bird came flying in and we all managed to get on it with the other thirty odd birders present. It flew over towards Redbrooks but despite all the birders present searching (some with a little too much enthusiasm) we didn't locate it's chosen roost site.
There was a small group twitching the bird from Belgium and another birder from Doncaster that had given it a few days and still not seen it. Another local was on his fifth trip hoping to connect so we did well in the three hours we gave up for it.

Herring Gull

After a quick stop at Dover to bag a year tick in the form of Shag we moved on to Sandwich Bay and drove out to the Chequers Inn pub where we searched the beach for reported Shore Larks but found only Skylark, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Ostercatchers. Our last stop was Reculver where we quickly located a Black Redstart and after sitting at the end of the rocky bay the bird eventually came to us and gave a couple of opportunities to grab a shot or two. Sanderling were also seen here along with several Mistle Thrush to give another year tick.

Ringed Plover
Black Redstart

Year list now at 142