Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Suffolk – Loom Pit – 25th March 2011

Watch out for: Wildfowl, Gulls & Waders

Taking the opportunity to arrive at this site before seven in the morning gave a wonderful light to look out across the fishing lake and the Orwell estuary.  Ducks and Geese were very much the order of the day with Greylag, Canada & Brent all very close.

On the sands there were numerous Redshanks, the odd Ringed Plover, a Grey Plover and a handful of Curlew.

In the surrounding shrubs and trees Song Thrushes & Chiffchaff were singing and Reed Buntings flitted around trying to attract each others attention.  A proper spring morning and no one about, great!

East Anglia Year Count: 115
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 115. Month bird count: 75.
Photo: Canada Goose (Branta canadensis); Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

Monday, 28 March 2011

1st Rare Bird of the Year – Short-toed Treecreeper – Landguard

This bird was right on my door step this weekend so I decided to get down there and see it for my self.  Typical Treecreeper behaviour prevented any good photographic opportunities for me, but I had some quick clear views.

Also on the site were Northern Wheatear and Black Redstart.

East Anglia Year Count: 115
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 115. Month bird count: 70.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Target Bird No 4: Tree Sparrow

The decline of Sparrows in this country is well documented and to see a House Sparrow can, sadly, often be a surprise these days.  However getting to see a Tree Sparrow has been a lot more of a challenge for quite some years now.

For my money I’ve found most success at the RSPB Ouse Wash reserve, especially on their feeders and that is where these photographs were taken.  I’ve also had some consistent sightings in Norfolk around the Choseley Drying Barns area.

Wherever you see them they are a delight to watch and worth the effort for an annual tick.

East Anglia Year Count: 112
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 112. Month bird count: 65.
Photo: Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus); House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Cambridgeshire – Ouse Washes – 6th March 2011

Watch out for: Swans & Tree Sparrow

The set of hides at this reserve look out right across the wash and can be very productive at all times of the year for a great variety of birds and other wildlife.
In the winter it is wildfowl and in particular visiting winter Swans.  Today there were over 200 Whoopers, and a lot of them were close for viewing.

However the wash is not the only story here.  As you walk through from the car park there are two brilliantly set up feeding area’s and they attract all the normal garden birds (Chaffinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit) plus a number of Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers & Reed Buntings.  It is excellent for photography.

East Anglia Year Count: 112
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 112. Month bird count: 65.
Photo: Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Monday, 14 March 2011

1st Summer Visitor – Chiffchaff – 14th March 2011

At first heard then seen calling in a blooming Prunus Tree in Harlow this lunch time.

East Anglia Year Count: 112
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 112. Month bird count: 65.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Cambridgeshire – Fens – 6th March 2011

Watch out for: Owls, Swans and winter Thrushes

We headed away from Lakenheath and across to the Fens, looking out across the flats and along the Drains for any signs of feeding Swans.  Pulling off the road to get the scope out only to discover they were Mute’s.

It wasn’t long before we were on Bates’s Drove and turning left down to Pymoor, from the bank we could see the completely flooded land across the Ouse Wash, this water was supporting a lot of wildfowl including Pochard, Wigeon & Tufted.  On the dry side there was a Barn Owl hunting down the road side ditch and some distant Bewick Swans.  Further along, in the trees there was a mixed flock of Redwing & Fieldfare

East Anglia Year Count: 107
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 107. Month bird count: 34.
Photo: Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Suffolk – Lakenheath Fen – 6th March 2011

Watch out for: Wildfowl, Grebes & Gulls

We were Cambridge Fens bound this Sunday morning, so en-route we decided to call in at this great RSPB reserve famed for its Gold Orioles in the summer months.  This time of year it is a different story, the large open water can attract wintering Ducks, Grebes and Gulls.

We were very lucky in the fact there was a much reported Black-necked Grebe still over on the far bank, too distant to photograph, but never the less a good bird to see.

On the water we could see most of the British winter ducks, including Pintail, Wigeon, Teal & Pochard.  No notable Gulls, but the Great-crested Grebes were show signs of courtship behaviour.

East Anglia Year Count: 106
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 106. Month bird count: 25.
Photo: Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Suffolk – Minsmere Part 2 – 27th February 2011

Watch out for: Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Red-throated Diver, Cetti’s Warbler, Wildfowl and Waders

For the second part of our visit we exited the woodland and headed toward the coast via the west and south hides.

Here it was becoming evident that the waters on the reserve were very high and thus waders would be at a premium.  In fact on the whole trip we only saw Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and a couple of Ringed Plovers.  On the other hand wildfowl were prolific; with Shoveler, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail & Pochard all there.  Of note there were large collections of Gulls all going in summer plumage and a large gathering of Lapwings, but our hundredth bird of the year came with a group of 10 or so Avocets.

We then proceeded to the shore line; very distantly we saw Great-crested Grebes & Brent Goose on the water, then a brief view of Red-throated Diver & Common Scoter in flight.

Finally before heading back to the car park we went to the busy east hide, there were a couple of sleeping Kittiwakes on the limited exposed mud and on walking our we heard another Cetti’s calling and spotted a fleeting small brown job, cut across between two reed fronts from where the call had been heard.

East Anglia Year Count: 105
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 105. Month bird count: 79.
Photo: Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Suffolk – Minsmere Part 1 – 27th February 2011

Watch out for: Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Red-throated Diver, Cetti’s Warbler, Wildfowl and Waders

Minsmere is a large reserve with a diverse habitat (woodland, marsh, levels, open water and the North Sea).  Therefore you can easily see a lot of species in one visit and it’s a great place to practice ID skills and pile on a few ticks.

We started by heading out to the Island Mere, just before we got to the hide we heard a Cetti’s Warbler, absolutely no chance of seeing it, but that’s so often the way with this resident.  Looking out across the water there were 5 female Smew and 1 male, all quite close and in the trimmed down reeds Greylag, Coot & Mallard, plus a large number of Tufted Duck grouping on the open water.  Over head there were 4 Marsh Harriers, calling to each other.

We then took ourselves back through the woods, another calling Cetti’s, Willow Tit, Treecreeper & Goldcrest along with numerous Chaffinches, Blue Tits & Great Tits.

99 East Anglian Birds now, more to come…

East Anglia Year Count: 99
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 99. Month bird count: 64.
Photo: Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)