Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all especially those like minded fools that can't wait for 1st January to kick off another year list giving them the excuse to visit every corner of the country in search of  ticks experience.
Not sure where to start the year tomorrow, Need to chose between Kent or Norfolk 
I'll let you know where we go and how we get on.

Don't forget to amend your BOU list with the affects of the new IOC World list or are you a maverick and running with a different list, whatever you decide may you enjoy 2018 and go to some great places, meet some like minded people and see some GREAT BIRDS!
And if you don't list then how about making 2018 the year you started it really is a great excuse for seeing the country....see you around!

And thanks for reading

Here's to more of this in 2018

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Caspian Gull on Eagle Pond Snaresbrook

Driving through Snaresbrook today I couldn't resist a quick stop to see if I could find the Caspian Gull that's been using Eagle Pond over the last few days.

I picked out the bird pretty quick and managed a couple of record shots before it took off high and over the court towards Wanstead. I can't recall having seen a third winter bird before so it was nice to do a bit of work on the plumage differences as it hung around with Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Not the greatest images but they do record some if the ID features.

Caspian Gull (3rd winter)
Caspian Gull at Eagle Pond Snaresbrook
Caspian Gull
preferring to rob the Black-headed Gulls 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Christmas in Norfolk

A nice cottage Christmas break in Norfolk over the last week saw me manage to eat and drink far too much encouraged by my daughter in law who's currently eating for England.

Birding was limited but I did manage to pull myself away for three main targets.

Purple Sandpiper at Sheringham.

Shore Larks at Holkham Gap

Twite at Thornham.

Twite or is it Twites (feels like the plural should just be Twite)

Shore Larks 
Purple Sand
Reed Bunting at Thornham

Monday, 25 December 2017

Review of the year 2017

2017 cya!

The birding wasn't bad with ten lifers eventually plucked out following a very slow start.
January saw Pine Bunting added and then the next tick didn't come along until 11th June when the Elegant Tern was found down at Church Norton. In July I managed to get on the Marsh Sandpiper at Cliffe Pools in Kent. I then waited until September for it to kick off with Least and Stilt Sandpiper along with Citrine Wagtail, Arctic Warbler, Pallas's grasshopper Warbler and Red-throated Pipit.
October saw me put in a few miles before getting on the Common Rock Thrush in Gwent for my last tick of 2017.

I also had a couple of armchair ticks when both Purple Swamphen and Blue Rock Thrush got accepted. The life list now stands at 382 leaving me trying to find eight in 2018 with the hurdle of 400 in my sites. The year list reached a respectable 274 but it's getting harder to put in the miles for the year ticks.

The best bird was the Rock Thrush. 

Rock Thrush
Arctic Warbler
Red-throated Pipit
Blue Rock Thrush added this year after being seen in 2016
Bee Eaters had to be one of my favourite outings of 2017
Bluethroat a little cracker!
A cracking day on Handa Island
A good year for Crossbill
Bird of the year!
It was a good year for Fox activity locally.
Kingfishers played a part again this year
Best views ever of Woodlark
Exceptional views of Turtle Dove
No shortage of Short-eared Owl action
A local celebrity 
Stonking views of Ring Ouzel
A noteable Redstart
Ridiculous Red Kite
A Mountain Hare treat in the Findhorn Valley
Worse twitch of the year...PGT at Burnham
A little star in Shropshire
Roll on 2018 and the arrival of the first Swallow again
Star bird 
Sadly 2017 will also always be remembered as the year I lost my best friend. RIP   T 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Parrot Crossbills at Hollesley Common

With JR posting some smart images of the Parrots visiting the puddle at Hollesley I convinced the Jims we should venture up the A12 and see if we could finally add these to the year list and maybe even grab a shot or two of our own.

We arrived at around 8.30am and joined the other three early birds under the pines by the puddle.
With the ice on "our puddle" broken we hoped the Parrots would soon visit but as the next couple of hours passed we were joined by another eight birders/photographers including JR with no site or sound from the target.

Dartford Warblers, Stonechat and Goldcrest kept us company until the Parrots flew in late morning to feed in the distant pines before finally dropping to the puddle to drink for less than a minute only to disappear back into the distance. We all fired off a few shots and congratulated each other for the success afforded by the drive and the wait in the freezing conditions.

Parrot Crossbill
Parrot Cross---Bill
Parrot Crossbill
Parrot in a puddle
Being only ten miles from Suffolk's Arctic Redpoll we decided to give that a quick go and luckily connected within minutes of arriving but the bird was mobile with the other Redpolls and after enjoying good scope views we called it a day and headed back south.

Year list now 274

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Barred Warbler at Titchfield Haven

A lone run today down to Titchfield Haven NNR in Hampshire with a plan to spend the whole day just trying to bag a couple of half decent images of the wintering Barred Warbler. I was the first on site today arriving at 7.30am and with the reserve closed I wasn't sure I'd be able to find the bird but even when closed you can still access the garden behind the visitor centre. The bird showed straight away and repeated a small circuit all day along the short footpath before returning to feed on the few berries left in the garden.

There was a steady procession of birders throughout the day but I spent most of the day away from the garden with another birder at the opposite end of the footpath where the light was a bit better and the views a little less twiggy. I found a Firecrest on site for a bonus but the star attraction was the Barred and it didn't disappoint.

Good bird, good company and a great bacon sarnie in the visitor centre!

Year list now 272

Barred Brute!
You're Barred!
Barred full of berries
A proper poser!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Searching Pines for Parrots

Yesterday saw a five hour dip on the Santon Downham Parrot Crossbills. We heard a group moving through but failed to locate them and despite news coming through of some being seen we failed miserably to connect with any.
A nice chat with BW, GM & MM helped kill the time along with a few long searches of the Pines.

Today the birds were reported all day while I stayed home apart from a very brief fix in the hide at Lee Valley where both Bittern and Water Rail showed in the grey damp light.

Year ticks are getting harder to find and 2017 has that fizzle out feeling to it now.

Bittern at Lee Valley
Bittern at Lee Valley
Water Rail

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Quick catch up with the Roding Valley Red-necked Grebe

I haven't been to see the Grebe on our local lake since late September so two months on I thought I'd check out the plumage difference and with nice light managed a few images of the bird as it moves into first winter plumage.

1st winter Red-necked Grebe on Roding Valley lake
Little Cracker still looks sharp
Growing up
where;s that Red neck gone?
And how he looked back in Spetember