Monday 17 October 2011

Cliffe Cracker - Isabelline Shrike

The ticks are coming thick and fast now; that's 4 in 2 weeks! Feeling decidedly unwell today I called in and booked a day off leave. After a couple of emergency visits to the bathroom, I was lying in bed feeling quite sorry for myself, when a text from Hawky read: Issy Shrike still there! Refering to the adult male bird at Cliffe in Kent. With Cliffe just 40 mins or so from home, and I had not been sick for over an hour, that was it, I was off.

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!

Hot on ther heels of yesterday's Raddes Warbler seen in the hand at Weybourne in north Norfolk, today I was lucky to see this stunning Booted Warbler at close quarters, at Landguard, Suffolk. Not much more I can say, than superb!

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Monday 10 October 2011

Woodchat Shrike, Lowestoft, Suffolk

A few pics of the very showy juv Woodchat Shrike at Lowestoft, Suffolk.

A male Brambling adding a splash of colour to proceedings.

Please move along - there's nothing to see here

For each of the last 4 years, a few of the lads have had a week or long weekend away in October. Last year it was Shetland, and the 3 previous years it was Scilly. This year myself, Shaun, Hawky, dirty twitcher Jono and Dave Mo were off to Norfolk!

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)

Someone once said about something, "It's a funny old game", and he (or she) was right! Less than 2 weeks ago Hawky and I seriously considered for about 30 minutes twitching the Sandhill Crane in Aberdeenshire; a whopping 550 miles each way, costing god knows how much in juice, one turns up just up the A12. Well someone else also said "Good things come to he who waits". Well wait we did and voila! The crane flies about 500 miles south and plonks itself down in Suffolk, a drive of about an hour and 20 minutes from home.

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.

The best I could get at distance in heat haze.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Best cure hangover ever - Semi P Sand! (and 2 paracetamol)

This morning was the morning after the night before after a late one on the sauce last night. Still in bed at 9.30am enjoying a a lay in I was rudely but happily awakened by Shaun telling me that there was a Semi P, yes a Semi P, just down the road at Coal House Fort, on the Thames. Shaun was already on his way after giving up calling my mobile, but a quick call to Hawky to arrange a pick up, meant we were on the road just 30 minutes a later, and on site viewing the bird about 20 minutes after that. Well done to the finder; Paul Wood!

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!