Sunday, 16 December 2007

Loom Pit, Suffolk – Sunday 16th December 2007

Cold with a little sun, the morning was made less comfortable with the wind-chill having its effect. Walking in from Levington Marina the tide was well out and there was plenty to been seen.
Out on the Orwell mud there were Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin 100+, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Avocet and Common Gull. On the water were quite a few Great Crested Grebes.
Turning to the fishing lake, wildfowl were aplenty. Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Pochard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Moorhen, Coot and Goldeneye. A Kingfisher darted around the far bank and there were Cormorants, Shelduck and a Sparrowhawk over.
Life List: 357 Year List: 302 Month List: 64

Monday, 3 December 2007

Horsey Gap, Norfolk – Sunday 2nd December 2007

Looking at the Met Office web site, it predicted a break in the East Norfolk Coast weather from late morning to early afternoon, so in the pouring rain we set off for Horsey and the long staying Desert Wheatear. We were not to be disappointed, arriving on site the rain had stopped and birders on the way back reported the bird was showing well. We approached with only one worry, normally a welcome sight, but there was a Merlin perched on the fence just where we had been directed to look, could we be the first to report “Wheatear taken”. The Merlin flew off West and there was no evidence of a kill. Soon two Stonechat appeared; we walked through the gap and on to the beach, delighted to see a large number of Grey Seals. Returning off the beach a Lapland Bunting went over and then, on the track the Desert Wheatear dropped in, very good views for about 15 minutes. Also in the area were Kestrel & Turnstone.
Life List: 357 Year List: 302 Month List: 26

Monday, 26 November 2007

Out & About – 23rd & 24th November 2007

Commitments made it impossible to do any specific trips this weekend but still travelling around and checking out the species. On Friday along the A14 two Common Buzzards, two Sparrowhawks and numerous Kestrels plus Geese in transit to feeding grounds. On Saturday some garden ticks, Goldfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Coal Tit. A field abundant with Lapwing and Golden Plover feeding along the side of the A428 in Bedfordshire. Other sightings including more Kestrels, Jays and Jackdaws. Life List: 356 Year List: 301 Month List: 98

Monday, 19 November 2007

Walberswick , Suffolk – Saturday 17th November 2007

Cold and sunny was the order of the day as we arrived on site with many another birders after the Penduline Tits that had been on this site all week. For us though we had a prior agenda of seeing some winter visitors for our year list, which had escaped us in January and February. Walking through the reeds we were surprised at the number of Bearded Tits running through, absolutely first class views. On to the area where the Pendulines had been seen, but they had recently flown, never mind, out across the reeds towards the sea there was a Hen Harrier putting up waders and wildfowl and inland we could see two Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine. The wait for the returning tits was pressing and we decided to head for the beach, here we were immediately on a mixed flock of Snow Bunting, Greenfinch and Twite. Looking back over the marsh it was evident that the pendulines had returned, so we pushed back to try and catch them, err not this time, they flew minutes before we returned. Back to the beach and lagoons, we see Water Pipit and distant Whooper Swans, the 300 for the year was now in the bag! We walk slowly back pausing for the elusive (only for us) Tits, again no luck. On our way through we divert from the path to the edge of the reeds, here a small group of birders explain that this was where the now extremely tricky (only for us) Pendulines were commuting to. We wait, one birder describes how they had only been 6 feet from him, we wait and then we wait some more, reports come in by phone that the birds were in the air, we wait. Alas they never did return for us and we pulled back to car to return home. Out of over a hundred birders that day, I wonder if anyone else dipped quite like us.
Life List: 356 Year List: 301 Month List: 96

Monday, 12 November 2007

Titchwell & Holme, Norfolk – Sunday 11th November 2007

Two days after the flood warning subsided all around the East Anglia coast, the winds were still high but we found any damage to be pretty limited. One of those weekends where there were lots of birds reported, but nothing to drive you out to one particular place, so we plumped for the west end of the North Norfolk Coast and arrived at Titchwell just after 9:00am. An impressive number of Pintails were on the freshmarsh along with Shoveler and Teal, amongst the Pintails a lone Goosander. Waders included, Knot, Avocet & Snipe on the marsh and on the shore Sanderling, more Knot, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Turnstone. Out at sea, watching was not easy with high waves and swell, but we managed Velvet Scoter, Little Auk & Slavonian Grebe. Also of note were the high numbers of Common Gulls on both the marsh and shore line.

After lunch we completed a short drive to Holme before the light totally failed, the wind by now had become very strong and we saw large numbers of Brent Geese & Shelduck plus a movement of Kittiwake. Life List: 356 Year List: 297 Month List: 88

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Holkham & Salthouse, Norfolk - 3rd November 2007

Some real anticipation of a great days birding ahead with the weather warm and the promise of some sun. We arrived at Lady Ann's Drive just after 8 am, too early for the parking man (hehe!), walked along the south of the pines to the Washington hide, pickup Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit and Gold Crest. From the hide this early in the day the Pink-footed Geese were very thin on the ground, but there were plenty of Wigeon. We strolled along to the Joe Jordan Hide, looking amongst some Greylag Geese for Bean or Lesser-white Fronted, alas not today, about 10:30ish the Pink Feet started to arrive, not huge numbers, but enough to be a spectacle, they favour the fields back along to towards the Drive.
We walk back to the car along the south edge of the pines, more Crests and Tits, a quick look at the gathering Geese from Washington again and back to the Drive seeing Jay & Redwing.
A nice (and familiar) coastal drive to Salthouse passing Brent Geese and a lone Swallow on a wire at Cley. Parked up and a short walk for Lapland Bunting and Turnstone, then Red Throated Diver, very close in, Little Auk, just off the tide line, quite a number of Kittiwake going both east and west, a large flock of Snow Bunting in off the sea, Gannets, Common Scoter & Great Crested Grebe all past. Then finally 3 Skuas going East, 2 Pomarine and 1 Arctic. Now that's good birding!
Life List: 356 Year List: 297 Month List: 64

Monday, 29 October 2007

The Naze, Abberton & Southend – Sunday 28th October 2007

Not the best of days, weather wise for birding, very overcast in the morning and raining in the afternoon, never the less we visited three Essex sites. We started at The Naze, hoping for some migrants that the preceding week had produced but alas today it was not to be. Saw our first Fieldfares of the winter months over; then a late Swallow hanging on, plus Song Thrush and Common Redshank. Off to Abberton (raining hard by now), hundreds of Pochard off the Layer Breton causeway plus Egyptian Goose, Black Swan, Shoveler & Shelduck. Down to the Layer de la Haye causeway and found Teal, Tufted Duck, more Pochard and Wigeon. Drove down to Westcliff-on-Sea for a long awaited visit to see the regular Ring-billed Gull (life first). Life List: 356 Year List: 294 Month List: 131

Friday, 19 October 2007

Maigmo, Spain - Monday 15th October 2007

This is primarily a woodland area in the hills overlooking Alicante, great patience was required in searching the pines and bordering olive trees near Tibi. Eventually we found Crested Tit (life first), Firecrest, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Sparrowhawk and Siskin. Travelling through near Las Hermosas we see, in flight, what could only be a Nightjar, this bird must have been put up by something! We return via Los Arenales to see a lone juvenile Glossy Ibis plus 2 Western Olivaceous Warblers and then through the San Pola Salinas for Marsh Harrier and Yellow-legged Gull. For those who know this site, believe it or not they have repaired to old castle, be prepared for a shock! Life List: 355 Year List: 291 Month List: 112

El Hondo, Spain - Sunday 14th October 2007

A light day with an afternoon drive around the Hondo, picking up Osprey, Fan-tailed Warbler, Swallows, House Martins, Penduline Tit, Southern Grey Shrike and Corn Bunting. Life List: 354 Year List: 289 Month List: 102

Pego, Spain - Saturday 13th October 2007

We take the coastal motorway up through Alicante and Benidorm and make our fist stop at the Cape de San Antonio. Here there are numerous Redstarts in the woods and Black Redstarts on the Cape, Craig Martin off it. We also pick up Iberian Chiffchaff. Next stop is Oliva and a look out to sea getting a solo Gannet and distant Mediterranean Shearwater (life first). Moving out from here we see quite a bit of flood damage and find Pego Marsh very deep in water, but the birds are there, we easily get Cattle Egret (30+) Grey Heron (20+), Audouin’s Gull and two Great Egrets. Over the other side of the road there are Tree Sparrows, Yellow Wagtail, Cirl Buntings, White Wagtails, Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. Life List: 354 Year List: 288 Month List: 95

Albecete, Spain - Friday 12th October 2007

A long wet drive up the motorway and the weather starts to clear as we arrive in this savannah type area. We plan to undertake a box scan through the area in the car staging through the villages of Higueruela, Hoya Gonzalo, Horna, Petrola & Bonete.

Off the main road we immediately pick up Calandra Lark then stop further along, having seen a larger movement through a field, scope out and we get a Dupont’s Lark (life first) amongst other larks and Mistle Thrush, further along this road there are several Black Wheatear, in and out of a long abandoned cottage. After lunch we are back into the remote savannah and scanning fields and trees, nothing but Magpies, Carrion Crows and Rock Doves for miles, then spotted, feeding in a field next to the road, two Black-bellied Sandgrouse (life first). We continue, more larks and carrions finally just outside the village of Bonete we find a flock (20+) of Rock Sparrows (Life first) gathering in a small olive tree.
Life List: 353 Year List: 284 Month List: 82

San Pedro, Spain - Wednesday 10th October 2007

Arrived in Spain yesterday, based just outside Torrevieja. The first forage out was 30 miles south, to the town of San Pedro del Pinatar where there is a large salinas and a managed marsh. Immediate views of Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Little Egrets, Flamingos, Slender-billed Gulls and Black-necked Grebe. Scanning through the grebes found a single Slavonian, rare for Spain. Then the first life list of the trip – four Little Bitterns take flight from the reeds. We moved on down the peninsula to a wooded managed area picking up some good migrants: Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat and a flock of 20+ Stone-curlew. Lastly within the marina we get Crested Lark and Icterine Warbler.
Life List: 350 Year List: 278 Month List: 56

Monday, 8 October 2007

Landguard - 7th October 2007

Very quite weekend preparing for our birding trip to Spain. Just managed a brief visit to Landguard, picking up a pair of Redstarts plus the normal suspects. Also see our "best birding day ever!" article has been published in Birdwatching Magazine.
Life List: 349 Year List: 272 Month List: 28

Monday, 1 October 2007

Landguard & N Norfolk - 29th & 30th September 2007

A quick visit to Landguard late Saturday morning proved very fruitful taking a rather shy Barred Warbler (life 1st). Also saw several Linnets. The real business of the weekend was on Sunday. At Cley coastguards for about 9:30, not a lot off shore, Gannets & Red-throated Divers through east. Then on the reserve saw a very close Bearded Tit and from the hide Red-necked & 3 Grey Phalarope together, along with Little Stint, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Little Grebe & Godwits, plus a good number of wildfowl. From there it was off to Holkham and a long walk through the pines west picking up Yellow-browed Warbler and singing! Chifchaffs on our way out on to the Bunham Overy dunes to get a good view of a male Subalpine Warbler (uk 1st). Also noted that many Pink-footed Geese are now gathering for the winter months. Of note in the sun we also saw a small Lizard, Naterjack Toad and the Caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth. The day then ended with a rather speculative visit to Salthouse to try and see the Blyth's Reed Warbler, but time was tight and we left before it showed again, picking up Little Egret and Egyptian Goose. Life List: 349 Year List: 271 Month List: 100

Monday, 24 September 2007

The Naze - 23rd September 2007

After last weeks dipping it was time for some success. So travelled down to The Naze, a Wildlife Trust area in Essex near Walton on Naze. In the pool a very easy Pectoral Sandpiper along with Common Redshank. Then on the beach, Turnstone and a nice gathering of Sanderling. Apologies to the other photographer, as I put the birds up whilst extracting myself from the grass in what is commonly called the "crawl on your T shirt" position, trying to get in as close as I dare. Not quite as blatant as the chap who promptly returned the bird to the pool by driving his pushchair towards it whilst it recovered on the foreshore. Also of note Swallows over the heath and Juv Arctic Terns over.
Life List: 348 Year List: 268 Month List: 85

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Norfolk - 15th September 2007

Dip, dip, dip & dip! Started at Winterton, no sign of the Barred Warbler and nothing but Gannets off shore. Moved on to Hickling Broard, missed the Pectoral Sandpiper, only to see a single Knot, 3 Ringed Plovers and a Ruff. In the car again and we reached Cley Coastguards, alas no Lapland Bunting but saw more Gannets and Red Throated Divers past. Homeward bound.......some days are better than others. Life List: 348 Year List: 267 Month List:80

Monday, 10 September 2007

North Norfolk Coast - 8th September 2007

An early start, sea watching off Sheringham. Over the day saw 200+ Gannets on the move , 2 Manx Shearwaters, Red Throated Diver all east bound and 20+ Little Gulls west bound. Good Purple Sandpiper close on the beach. Headed off to Cley East Bank and Beach. 5 Razorbills in the water, 1 Guillemot, more Gannets and 1 Red Throated Diver. Sandwich Terns on and off shore. The Reed Beds were quiet, but there was good Avocets, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit & Shelduck on the lagoon with 2 Red Creasted Pochard. Spent some time putting the Mk III to use photographing
the Purple Sand and a Black-headed Gull that stood for along while next to us on Cley Beach.
Life List: 348 Year List: 267 Month List: 60