Monday 25 February 2013

A Pied Billed Grebe and Pallas's Warbler jaunt

Two years ago I saw my 1st Pied Billed Grebe in the UK in Manchester, with filthy twitcher Jono Lethbridge.  As you can see below it showed well!

Yesterday I saw my 2nd Pied Billed Grebe in the UK, as you can see there are no photos.  It did not show well. It stated around 150 yards away and asleep for most of the time.   

Shaun (4th right - tick and run!)

The bird stayed at the back of the water. Pretty good scope views were had but no chance of even getting a digi-scoped shot. Also on site 2 fly by Bittern (again distant).

On the way home we stopped in Berks to go for the elusive wintering Pallas's Warbler. It was hard work but we enjoyed some good but brief views. Unfortunately, the pics below are scrapping the bottom of a very blurry deep barrel.

Also seen of note up to 6 Red Kite and a fly by Kingfisher.

A henge

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Great Grey Shrike - Therfield Health Hertfordshire

I am still recuperating from my recent heart operation, but am trying to get out in the fresh air and do some exercise (= birding) most days over the last week or so. Not wanting to spend ages in the car (I've set myself an hour drive limit each way) I done some research last night and with both a Great Grey Shrike and Hawfinch in Hertfordshire, the decision was easy. After a lie in and a leisurely breakfast I hit the road at around 10am. An hour later I was pulling up at Therfield Common, Royston.

I caught up with a couple of birders who informed me that I had missed the bird by 10 minutes, and that it had been showing distantly on wires. They soon departed and I left alone to search for the bird. Bingo! After just 15 minutes I relocated it in a hedge about 50 yards away behind me. Having just walked that area I knew there was a path close by so quietly walked the path, hugging the bushes to hopefully creep up close, and it worked. Despite rubbish light I managed to get to within 20 or so feet of the bird when it conveniently relocated to the top of the bush! Cracking.

Next stop and sort of on the way home, a church yard in the small picturesque village of Bramfield, about 30 minutes away. I was after Hawfinch. Almost immediately upon arrival I had one fly over, then after a short search I found 5 in the tops of the trees in the church yard. Excellent scope views were had but digi-scoping proved tough as you can see by the record shots below.

Other birds seen on site of note were Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Fieldfare and Common Buzzard. 

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Waxwings still on my doorstep

Ok well less than 100 yds from my front door! The Waxwings are still just up the road from my house. More pics from just 10 mins with the birds mid morning today. There were just 2 at first but were soon joined by another 5.  

Above - how many can you see?

A car parked below the tree was constantly getting hit by falling crab apples as after just a few pecks the fruit would fall. This photo captures the falling fruit.

Monday 18 February 2013

Waxwings on my garden list!

Yipee! Waxwings on my garden list at last! Ok so they weren't actually in my garden (yet), but I could easily see them in a tree on my road from my front garden.

It all started when one of our friends who live in the next road to us called to say that their son, Charlie, was walking down my road and had seen some strange looking birds in a tree. I headed the 100 yards from my front door as described and there they were! They were pretty mobile moving between crab apple trees and cherry trees, but showed down to just a few feet at times.

I've cut up some apples and put them on spikes on top of the bird feeders in my garden! Fingers crossed!

It was interesting seeing them feed on the buds as well as the fruit!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Penduline Tit - Stodmarsh, Kent

Had a couple of hours out today and headed to north Kent to see the Penduline Tit that had been showing well on and off for a few days. As it says on the tin, the bird showed well on and off for the hour plus I was there. The bird followed a tight pattern of feeding on the heads, then flying to a nearly tree, then off and out of sight. Then 15 minutes later a call could be heard and a few seconds later it would reappear in the tree, before heading back to the reeds for another feed. It followed this pattern 3 times in the time I was there.

The bird was amazingly camoflauged at times amongst the perfectly matching brown mace heads.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Black Bellied Dipper - Thetford, Norfolk

I've seen one Black bellied Dipper before but this was a real treat. Shaun and I headed up to Thetford on the Norfolk border (via 4 Waxwings on a tree on the M25 roundabout) hoping the bird would continue to show well as it had being doing over the previous weeks. The Dipper was showing just 10-12 feet away on arrival, so we plonked ourselves down in the mud and watched the bird for a good couple of hours. Great stuff.

Not a Dipper