Thursday, 17 July 2014

Get Great Knoted

No pics I am afraid, but honest guv, I was there! When news broke on Monday of the mega rare; 4th for Britain, and probably only the 2nd twitchable, Great Knot, had been superbly found, at Breydon Water, in north east Norfolk, I really fancied it. Not too far, at just over 2 hours, long summer nights so plenty of time, but there was one problem, a big problem, it was my daughter's school prom that night. A big night for her and we had to go and see her off, all dolled up, from a friend's house. The earliest I would be able to leave was 6pm. By there time I would have got there, parked up, found the bird etc, it would be at least 8.30pm, and I would have been really pushing my luck to connect with such little time to play with. In hindsight I would have made it, seen the bird and been able to latch onto the confiding Long Tailed Skua sitting on a beach just up the road, but the decision was made. Another one had got away. Tuesday morning, I packed the telecope, bins etc in the car and head off to work. Boom! A short while later a message on Twitter to confirm the bird was still present. I had tried to recruit some accomplaces to no avail. Another solo twitch beckoned. This was not a major problem. Ok it costs a few quid more and the journey can be a bit boring, but it brings flexibility. 3.45Pm, straight from work, I was on the motorway heading north. 2 hours and 15 mins later, via some helpful direction from Hawky (who had seen it the previous evening) I was parking up in the rugby club car park. Around a mile away I could see a gaggle of twicthers, standing in line, scopes pointing out across the mud. I began walking, within 200 yards, I asked a couple of birders if it could be seen from here, and it could, in fact probably better than three quarters of a mile up the bank, where the majority congregated. I think they had parked up the road in Asda car park that's all. I enjoyed the bird for around 45 minutes, feeding with Knot. Hoping it would have a fly around, but it didn't. It stayed within 20 feet of where I had first seen it, or so, for the whole time I was there. Shame it was a tad distant. The scope views were ok, especially as the light improved. Feeding with other birds it was a good comparator, but hats off the person who found it. Very good work. I read that it is the same fella who found one there in 2009, although that record has never been confirmed or accepted. So what to so next? The plan was to go to Minsmere for a Collared Pratincol, which would have been only my 2nd. The sat nav told me it was much further out of the way than I had thought. Bugger. It didn't help I had forgotten my house keys (DOH!) so couldn't really get home late. I decided best to head home. 2 hours later, I was cracking open a cold beer, pleased with my efforts, BOU 406, with a teal, a flycatcher and a gull potentially still to be decided.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Rose Coloured Starling, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Had a great morning out with Hawky in Suffolk then Norfolk. We started at Lowestoft for an adult Rosy Starling. It took 20 minutes or so for it to fly in, but when it did sat obligingly in a tree for a good 30 minutes, before flying off again. It was my 4th Rosy Starling but my 1st adult, and very smart it was too.

Next stop Winterton, where after getting soaked by showers, we located the female Red Backed Shrike, which provided good views, but was very mobile. The rain then came again, and that was that.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Privet Hawk Moth

What a stunner! One of two Privet Hawk Moths hiding away in the egg boxes left out around the bulb last night. First outing for my new macro lens, so work in progress.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Death's Head Hawk Moth

A pic of the Death's Head Hawk Moth on display at at Rainham Marshes RSPB yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Morning Glory - Short-Toed Eagle!!

Wow, what a morning! On my 3rd attempt I finally caught up with Britain's 3rd ever recorded Short-Toed Eagle, which now seems to have settled down nicely in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. After dipping it in Hampshire last weekend and then at Ashdown Forest, yesterday evening, I was up at the crack of dawn (4.30am) for my 3rd attempt.

I met Shaun at 4.50am and we were on site by 6am, where we bumped into filthy twitchers' Jono Lethbridge and Dave Morrison (lol). After yesterday late evening's reports of it "showing well" after I had left, I expected it to be sat up nicely, roosting in a tree upon arrival. It wasn't and there had been no sign.

Forty five minutes passed then boom, someone out of view calls it, to our left. It glided low over the bracken and trees just 50 yards away, providing fantsatic views as it slowly gained height and edged further away, before settling in a dead tree for a few minutes, around 200 yards away, providing great scoped views. Quickly it was up again and slowly drifted out of view. What a cracker! (very record shots below)


We were back on the road by 7am, and I was suited and booted at my desk in work by 9am! You just can't beat a pre-work mega tick! I'll be surprised if I see a more impressive bird in Britain this year. If so it'll have to be something very special.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Boom! I am back on the tick trail in spectacular fashion! For once luck was on my side. When a mega rare Spectacled Warber turned up on Monday up in north Norfolk. I really did not expect it to still be there the following morning. It was, and I could get the afternoon off work. I called a few people but no one could get the time off at short notice, but I had made my mind up, I was going.

I left work at 1.15pm and was parking up 120 miles later, around 3.45pm. It's a long and tiring 1.5 miles walk to the dunes at Burnham Overy, which took another 30 mins, but it was wort it. The bird showed after just 5 minutes of waiting and proceeded to show on and off for the 2 hours I was on site. Most of the time it stayed buried in thicket occasionally sitting up and no closer than c50 feet. Hence the record shots.

With less than 10 previous British records it is a cracking bird to get on my ;list and well worth the solo twitch. It was good to meet Dan Barrett up there, who ironically works about 5 miles from me, so hopefully there will be some straight from work twitches together in the future.    

Monday, 2 June 2014

Norfolk in Birds

It was one of those weekends. Choices had to be made. Have a day out birding in Norfolk, where there had been a smattering of good birds in previous days, and a Black Headed Bunting, that both Lee and Shaun needed or go twitching the Ross's Gull in Devon, a bird we all needed. Then should we go Saturday or Sunday. The chosen options of Norfolk and Saturday, could not really have been much, wronger! We arrived at West Runton on the north Norfolk coast at 7.15am, to news that the bunting had been seen between 5.30 and 6.30am, but not since, and two hours later it had not showed. We decided to head off to do some birding.

First it was Beeston Bump where the only birds of any note were two Fulmar patrolling the cliff tops. With no further news of the bunting we decided to head west to Blakeney Point. The last time I done Blakeney Point, or should I sat Blakeney Point done me, (Alder Flycatcher) I had promised myself I would never do it again, and now I find myself doing it with no mega beckoning me towards it at the end. Approximately 1/4 of mile in, I checked Birdguides, and the bunting was showing again. Shaun and Lee decided to double back and go for it. Me and Hawly continued the long slog up the point. Around an hour later we were sitting, resting our weary legs, at the plantation waiting for a mega to pop out. There were no megas. In fact there were not many birds at all. The best by a long chalk was a Siberian Chiffchaff that provided pretty good views despite playing the elusive card for most of the time we were there. Other than that one each of Wheatear, Marsh Harrier and Goff old fashioned regular Chiffchaff was all we were rewarded with.

 By this time we were fully aware that the Ross's Gull was predictably showing well down in Devon, and of course news of the Short Toed Eagle, that I have just read appears have been there for at least 6 days (nooooo!) has been ID'd in Dorset, probably easily do-able on the way back from Devon. The long walk back was made a little bit easier by smart and showy Little Terns fishing along the water's edge.

 Back at the car park we meet Shaun and Lee, the bunting had not showed again, during another two hours, so they had called it a day. One last check of Birdguides told us that totally predictably the bunting was again showing. Yet again we sped over there and yet again, it had bleeped off.

 On the way home we were gripped off by photos of the eagle on-line. I had friend's over for dinner, arriving at 6.30pm, I got in at 6.27pm, jumped in the shower, and was back downstairs just as the door bell went. It was more than my life was worth to start ringing round people trying to arrange lifts etc, having been out since 4.30am leaving the Mrs to tidy up and get ready for our guests. Totally predictably when I awoke the following morning the eagle was showing well for no doubt many hundreds of very happy . Bollocks.