Sunday, 30 April 2017

Scotland 2017

A short break in Tomatin up in the highlands of Scotland has given me the chance to see some fabulous sites again whilst picking up a few year ticks and grabbing a few record shots.

First I visited a fish farm near Cairn Gorm and managed to see my first Osprey of 2017 without having the camera with me to capture the image. At Cairn Gorm I picked up a single Ptarmigan in the distance from the top viewing platform and heard another lower down.

Whilst sitting in the car out of the strong cold wind I managed to get a few images of the Snow Buntings and Ring Ouzels feeding around the edge of the car park. It was good to see the male in his summer plumage.

Snow Bunting at Cairn Gorm
Ring Ouzel at Cairn Gorm
From the car park I also picked up my first Red Grouse of the year.

Red Grouse
Day two saw me make an early morning visit to Loch Garten where the Cappers are having a year off and not showing at all and with the wardens alarming and depressing commentary blaming every visitor to the area for the birds demise I left. In the car park I watched the feeders and after an hour got lucky when a single Crested Tit visited. A Red Squirrel visited the same feeders and I managed a single shot of him too. I picked up Tree Pipit and Redstart here before finding Black Grouse in a nearby field as I drove down the A9. Later a trip down the Findorn Valley delivered Dipper as a final year tick of the day although I also enjoyed good views of six Mountain Hares.

Crested Tit
Red Squirrel at Loch Garten
Mountain Hare

At Lochindorb more Red Grouse and a few waders were enjoyed on a quick drive around the Loch.
Back at the cottage we had three Red Kites, two Buzzard and a Goshawk over along with a calling Tawny Owl and a few deers running through the garden. A very large Bat also hunted around the stream last night but I've no idea what species it would be.

Year list now 210

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


A couple more from Sundays trip to Suffolk

Bearded Tit
Whitethroat  another of my favourite birds to point the camera at
Common Whitethroat

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Suffolk Sunday

With the A12 closed we headed up the M11 and crossed the A14 picking up the A12 north of the closure as we headed up to our first stop at Minsmere where a walk down to Island Mere delivered a singing Savi's Warbler along with good views of Bearded Tit. Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers all sang for us and the Bitterns "boomed".

Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit

A Weasel was seen and we then heard our first Whitethroat of 2017 before catching site of it on top of a bramble bush. Three Spoonbill flew over but didn't settle.

From Minsmere we dropped in to Boyton and Hollesely Marsh RSPB sites where we watched a pair of Cranes fly over and had eight Whimbrel drop in. At Hollesley  the Jims got on the Wood Sandpiper as I papped a Linnet on the sea wall but I did manage to find a Common Sandpiper before another Whimbrel dropped in.


Year list now 202

Thursday, 20 April 2017

And a few more Crossbills

Sorry....couldn't help myself!

The Female
Female Crossbill
The Male

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

More Stunning Crossbills

A few more images from my session in Suffolk on Monday

What a stunner!
Preening male
The pair

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A good year for Crossbills

It would appear to be a good Crossbill year with sightings now regular in certain parts of Suffolk with this in mind I visited a drinking pool they have been visiting and with patience I was rewarded by several visits from upto nine Crossbill. A Jay and several Siskin also visited the pool and the area was alive with the sound of Woodlark singing. Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were first heard then seen and a large female Sprawk flew over as a Tawny Owl made a short call to announce itself and give me an unexpected year tick.

Year list now 198

Simply the best!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Nightingales back at Lea Valley

A very quick trip to Lea Valley this morning rewarded me with two singing Nightingales one of which revealed itself for a while. A Cuckoo called and I heard what might gave been a Grasshopper Warbler but I failed to pin it down and as the call was too brief Grasshopper Warbler "is not on the list"

Back at home I had a few birds feeding in the garden so took a few shots while the light was ok.

Year list now 197

Hedge Sparrow
Blue Tit
And a couple more of yesterdays Stork..............

White Stork
White Stork at Sudbury
White Stork
White Stork of unknown origin
Happy Easter!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Cattle Egrets two for the price of one

A solo run this morning with the intention of connecting with the Cattle Egret at Iken but stopping at Minsmere first where the chilly North west winds made it a very brisk walk around. I heard my first Reed Warbler of the year enjoyed some nice views of displaying Marsh Harriers and heard a number of Bitterns boom.

Back at Iken I eventually found a Cattle Egret in with the suckling heard on Sandy Lane although it was keeping low in a ditch. Whilst trying to grab a record shot another Egret popped up and to my surprise it too turned out to be a Cattle Egret so I set about trying to get the record shot with both birds in it.

On the way home I took a short diversion to search again for the Sudbury White Stork and this time struck lucky finding it feeding in the field by Grey's Hall. It took flight whilst I was there circling high overhead before dropping back in the same field. Listed as "of unkown origin" but still a good bird to watch.

Year list now 196

White Stork
White Stork
Cattle Egrets at Iken
Marsh Harrier at Minsmere

Friday, 14 April 2017

Ring Ouzels make a welcome stop in Essex on their way north

A short run this morning up to Landguard where we had very brief views of a potential female Ring Ouzel followed by good views of a dozen or more Wheatear and our first Little Ringed Plover of the year associating with the Ring Plovers out on the field. No sign of Black Redstart which is proving a slow tick this year.

Ring Ouzel 
Ring Ouzel

The Ouzels
Little Ringed Plover at Abberton
We moved down to East Mersea. A drive onto the island taking the left fork to East Mersea and the three mile drive to the end of the road where we parked up at the Golf House and walked down to the sea wall turning left we walked to the second paddock and this is where we enjoyed cracking views of two male Ring Ouzels in the paddock. A female Wheatear and a cracking male Yellow Wagtail were also present as was a single Redwing.

A stop at Abberton on the way home delivered our second LRP of the day/year along with a distant Scaup but no sign of the reported Velvet Scoter.

The year list now sits at 193 thanks to todays trio.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Catching a few ticks in Tuddenham

Saturday saw me going solo down at Elmley while the Jims enjoyed Vange Marshes Stilts.

I had good but brief views of a day flying Barn Owl, a Peregrine hunting the marshes with several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers. Hares were putting on a show and the mating rituals of Lapwing and Redshank were in full flow.

Redshank fight

On the drive home I picked up a year tick with three Swallows in Barking.

Sunday morning saw an early meet up with the Jims and a short drive up the A11 to Tuddenham.
On the heath we enjoyed good scope views of a pair of Stone Curlew before picking out a couple of Wood Larks to give the boys a year tick. A surprise came when we first heard then enjoyed good views of an early Cuckoo and then on the drive out picked up decent views of a pair of Grey Partridge. Another year tick came in the form of a couple of Willow Warblers singing their hearts out.

Grey Partridge
Whilst in the Brecks we made a short detour to Santon Downham where after a long walk down river we eventually heard a Lesser Spot call to add to the drumming heard on a previous visit and giving a "heard only" year tick. The trees along the route held good numbers of Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin but a fly over Goshawk took top spot. Again Wood Larks displayed in the clearings and seem to be thriving in the Brecks.

Wood Lark

Year list now 190