Thursday, 8 December 2011
Woodcock at Canning Town tube station - RIP
Monday, 5 December 2011
Jam tastic weekend away in Norfolk - Western Sandpiper
So last Thursday when the Semi-P that had been present for a few days at Cley, firstly changed from a Semi-P to a poss Western, then onto a definite Western Sandpiper, I was thanking Jammyious Dodgerus (the Roman god of, er, jamming in on birds), that the little yank would hang on for at least 12 hours so I could get there.
The weekend didn't produce any other suprises birdwise. One trip to Titchwell failed to produce the Yellow Browed Warbler. I picked up a Tawny Owl beside the road on the way up and late afternoon on Friday, a Barn Owl provided cracking views for the family, as it hunted close to the road. Oh and of course thousands and thousands of Pink Feet provided the usual daily spectacle.
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Monday, 21 November 2011
The wonders of the solar system
Voila! Who needs Doctor Brian Cox!
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Sharp Tailed Sand Bagged!
We arrived at Blagdon at around 7.45am ( journey approx 2.5 hours) to be told there was no sign. Bugger. There were around 30 - 40 birders on site already, so we had a quick look around from the car park, bagging Red Crested Pochard, Long Tailed Duck and Goosander, before deciding to head to the other end of the reservoir to refind our sandpiper! Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but Bradders quickly found the Ring Necked Duck and John a Ring Billed Gull, and there were 8 Bewick Swans too! All amounting to a strong supporting cast, but where was the headline act!
It was now 9am, we had about an hour before we had to start thinking about heading home. Bradders and I headed back to the car, as John and Rich headed off in the opposite direction to try and get better views of the Ring Billed Gull. 10 minutes later we were in the car when the pager bleeped: SHARP TAILED SANDPIPER - CHEW VALLEY RESERVOIR!!
The tyres screeched as we zoomed up the winding lane trying to find the others. 2 minutes later we were all in the car, doing a u-turn and heading the short distance (2-3 miles max) to Chew Valley.
We pulled up to find out it had just a few moments earlier flown out of sight. A adult Spotted Sandpiper had also been there until a few minutes earlier but had also just flown. Nooooo. More and more people began to arrive to swell the numbers to over 100. Another 30 minutes passed and still it had not been relocated. Then, "There it is!" said someone, direction were shouted 1 or 2 people got onto it. I managed a fleeting glimpse though someone else's scope before it walked out of sight again. Aaargh. And Bradders and John had not seen it yet! A few minutes later a small flock of Dunlin wheeled into sight and plonked themselves down out in the open, and there it was, in amongst them, providing much better, and longer views. Phew.
Monday, 7 November 2011
Short Eared Owl - Rainham
It was also really good to meet fellow birder, Marco, for the first time and discover after a brief chat, a family connection. Well, sort of.
Monday, 17 October 2011
Cliffe Cracker - Isabelline Shrike
The bird was showing immediately on arrival 100+ yards away, just a tad too far for good photos. The pics below certainly do not do this stunner justice. Perched, fanning its lovely chestnut tail and flashing its black mask it really was a little cracker, and BOU tick 386 for me (UK400 no 399). If I can fluke an unexpected tick or 2 over the remaining months of 2011, then perhaps I can reach the BOU milestone of 400 next year. Who knows, I'll enjoy trying though!
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Booted Warbler in the bag - literally!
Monday, 10 October 2011
Woodchat Shrike, Lowestoft, Suffolk
Please move along - there's nothing to see here
With south westerly winds off the Atlantic hitting our shores for the last gazillion weeks; American megas have been tripping over each other on Scilly. Even Shetland has been relatively quiet. After a failed last ditch effort to convince the lads to write off Norfolk, take the hit on the accommodation costs and head off to the Scillies, we were on the A12 heading north on Thursday AM.
A couple of hours later we arrived in Suffolk to take in the Sandhill Crane again. Dave Mo, was the only one in the party to not have already seen it and with Norfolk being totally devoid of any birds, we took the scenic route. The bird was pretty mobile in the hour or so we were there providing ok views.
Next we took an even more scenic route to Horsey where we hoped to make it a 2 crane day. I must admit I had never heard of Reedam Ferry across the Broads until Thursday. Well now we have. £4 to travel 30 metres had us wondering if in fact we were on the Scillies. I am sure that the ferry company must have a deal going with Garvin, taking numerous unsuspecting drivers across country and to that ferry! Anyway, needless to say, despite a good look, no cranes could be found. Well by now we were in Norfolk so the cranes were just preparing us for the next few days. Hawky luckily spotted a ringtail Hen Harrier on route to the cottage, which livened up the journey a bit.
Despite not a lot to see, the next few days passed in no time. We had good views of common waders, a fleeting glimpse of a Yellow Browed in Wells Wood, a couple of not overly great sea watches and er that was that. 3 days, no birds, well no bird of the quality were were hoping for anyway. We decided to throw in the towel and come home a day early. Sunday AM we split into 2 groups, with one so bored they went straight home to watch some paint dry and the other; me, Hawky and Jono, again taking the scenic return journey via Suffolk.
The journey home, although quite long, produced some cracking birds at last. Firstly, we located 2 Common Cranes. near Horsey. Next it was off to Lowestoft for a very showy juv Woodchat Shrike. Superb. Pics coming soon.
We continued south to Minsmere were the Glossy Ibis showed pretty well too. Finally we arrived back in Essex, back to Coalhouse Fort, for a look at the now long staying Semi Palmated Sandpiper, of which we had good but brief views.
The moral of this story is; if you are going to pre book a birding break in October each year, use your loaf and either go to Shetland or the Scillies. Ok you might get a duff year every now and then, but nothing like it was in Norfolk. We'll take that one on the chin and start planning next year's trip. I suppose at least we didn't miss anything gettable anywhere else!
Oh hang on what's this on birdguides:
Probable Blue Rock Thrush, East Runton, Norfolk, for 2nd day on Sunday 9th October, no sign today. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Monday, 3 October 2011
Sandhill Crane, Boyton, Suffolk (not Aberdeenshire)
After securing the afternoon off I was on the road by 1pm. By 5.30pm I was home in time for dinner. Superb. That's 2 quality local ticks in 3 days. If that Solitary Sand hangs on I hope to bag that on Thurs too, which would a make it one hell of an already tick-tastic week.
Saturday, 1 October 2011
Best cure hangover ever - Semi P Sand! (and 2 paracetamol)
The bird povided good scope views, along side Little Stint and Dunlin for comparison purposes, but was too far for any pics as in my hungover state forgot my small camera for any digiscoping.
Bearing in my Shaun and I had considered twitching the recent Hants or Somerset birds; this was a real result. Essex rocks! Pallid Harrier and now a Semi P in 2 weeks!
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Should I stay or should I go? Go you f@cking idiot, go!!
Oh dear, sometimes everything just goes to pot and this weekend has been a prime example. Earlier in the week the Scillies was ram jammed with yank rarities and Hawky and I had hatched a plan to day trip the beautiful islands hoping for at least one or two of Black and White Warbler; Northern Waterthrush, Solitary Sandpiper, Baltimore Oriole, Red Eyed Vireo and perhaps a splash of colourful Bee eater. By midweek half the birds had buggered off leaving by Thursday just the Waterthrush and Solitary Sand, with both playing hard to get a lot of the time. Should we stay or should we go? With no new arrivals we felt it too risky that either one or both birds would disappear or could not be pinned down during the short 4 hour window a day trip would allow. We needed a plan B.
Plan B duly arrived in the shape of another yank mega, this time a much bigger one, in the form of the Sandhill Crane found in Aberdeenshire! Our initial enthusiasm was significantly dampened when it dawned on us it was almost 550 miles away, equating to a 10 hour+ drive each way. We agreed that although the bird was rare, it was not work 20 hours in a car! We decided to do the sensible thing, stay at home and hope something would be found nearer to home. Much to my delight, come 6pm on Sat, I had the choice of 2 life ticks; a semi p in Hants or an Arctic Warbler in Norfolk. For me no choice, I have already missed out on one Arctic Warbler when the A12 in Essex was closed meaning we couldn't make the relatively short trip to Landguard.
The next choice was do we go on no news or wait? Well I'd had enough of sitting in doors, waiting until half the day had gone, to find out if a bird was still present. I hadn't had a full day out birding for a couple of weeks, and after all it is late Sept and there's already an Arctic Warbler and a Pied Fly at Burnham Overy so what else is there. So that was it a day birding in Norfolk!
At this stage I am going to cut a long and BORING story very short:
1. There was no sign of the Arctic Warbler :o(
2. There was no sign of hardly any birds in AT ALL in Norfolk
3. The semi p showed well all morning in Hampshire
4. The waterthrush and Solitary Sand showed pretty well all weekend
5. Ditto the crane
Anyway here are some pics of what little we did see.
Long tailed Duck - Titchwell
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Pallid Harrier, Colne Point, Essex
It must be my turn for a tick next? We'll see.