Monday 8 December 2008

Essex (Mistley Quay & The Walls) – 7th December 2008

A great clear frosty morning this Sunday and we headed to Mistley Quay. Here the impact of the winter vistor was noticeable, in the estuary there were Shag, Great Northern Diver, several Black-necked Grebes, Pintails, Golden-eyes and Common Gull to note but a few.
Feeding off the walls were Whooper Swan, numerous Canada Geese and Mute Swans.
Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 265 Month bird count: 47

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Suffolk (Felixstowe & Rendlesham) – 16th November 2008

Just a couple of short trips out, mainly to do some photography. Firstly to Felixstowe docks and nailed some good Gulls in flight mainly Black-headed but also saw Greater Black-backed and Herring. Plenty of Starlings around too, no doubt the evening roost gatherings will get large.
Then off to Rendlesham to catch a reasonably sized flock of Waxwings feeding on road side berries. Also saw Mistle Thrush (which insisted on aggravating the Waxwings) and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 264 Month bird count: 40

Tuesday 21 October 2008

E. Norfolk (Strumpshaw Fen, Horsey & Cart Gaps and Stub Mill) – 11th October 2008

Strumpshaw Fen is such a great place in the autumn with hips and other berries all over, the light on the waters and the leaf changing colour. Arriving about 8:00 everything was very quite and the sun was warming the fen nicely. Bearded Tits were very active in the reeds and popped up to view every 5 or 10 minutes, a single Marsh Harrier disturbed gatherings of Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall and Mallard on the waters. A single Grey Herron stalked in some shallow water and a Kingfisher sped across the broad. Over we also saw flocks of Greylag Geese and Canada Geese heading for daytime feeding grounds. We then headed north to Horsey Gap and walking from the car park found a family of Stonechat and a hopeful Kestrel hovering. On the way back, the same ground, produced Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Skylark. Off shore there was a gathering of 20+ Red-throated Divers all still in summer plumage and distant Gannets. After lunch it was a move up the coast to Cart Gap for a more sea-watching. This produced Fulmar and Black-throated Diver, with Oystercatcher and Turnstone on the beach. Finally we ended the evening at the Stub Mill watch point, to find a Great Grey Shrike distant before the light wavered. Once dusk started to fall and to a background of large flocks of Pink-footed Geese returning from the days feeding we saw Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier, 8+ Marsh Harrier and 17 Cranes. Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 263 Month bird count: 65

Monday 13 October 2008

Norfolk (Wells Wood & Walsey Hills) – 26th September 2008

Safely back form Cyprus and looking at the UK site reports there seamed to be few of the harder to see migrants in Norfolk, so decided to spend a day on the north coast. Tried Wells Wood first and to be honest it was disappointing from a migrant point of view but none the less got good views of Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Willow Warbler, Treecreeper and other woodland species. As foot note; many butterflies were clearly about and we did get “lowish” level views of a White Admiral.
Onward to Walsey Hills and a wonder around this small site produced a juvenile Barred Warbler with Tits and Crests evident in quite high numbers. Also saw Marsh Harrier over Cley. Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 258 Month bird count: 106

Tuesday 7 October 2008

N. Cyprus (The central plain and local) – 21st & 23rd September 2008

In the immediate local area to our hotel as well as the owls being evident there was a collection of smaller birds in and out, including Cetti’s Warbler, Icterine Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
Further a field and en-route across the central plain we saw larger gatherings of Bee Eaters, numerous Crested Lark, Thekla Lark and some Short Toed Lark. Along with Hoopoe, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail and Chucka.
Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 257 Month bird count: 102

Monday 6 October 2008

N. Cyprus (The Karpas) – 19th & 22nd September 2008

The Karpas can only be described as a completely unspoilt wilderness of scrub and hills, with a fantastic coast line on each face ending in a narrow spit of landfall. There are few roads and the occasional coastal bar, at the end there is a small village mainly centred around a religious retreat.
The scrub and hills are used by arable farmers & goat herders and at this time of year the sun has scorched the landscape, squeezing the vegetation to a minimum.
During our two visits the scrub was alive with Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Whinchat, Lesser Grey Shrike & a Red-backed Shrike. Over we saw Booted Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Honey Buzzard and Pallid Harrier.
En-route in and out we had views of Golden Oriole, Blackcap & Black Francolin. Plus stopping at the Talitsu reservoir we came across a Hobby, 3 Bonelli’s Eagles and 4 Eleonora’s Falcons.
Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 252 Month bird count: 65

Friday 3 October 2008

N. Cyprus (Coast east of Kyrenia) – 17th September 2008

Heading in the other direction, the coast road soon gets quieter, as we leave the outskirts of Kyrenia. We see more movements of herons heading west including Purple Heron and Night Heron. There are two Masked Shrikes on the wires close to the road and Red-rumped Swallows in and out of one on the small village en-route. Along the shore line Kingfishers are quiet evident and we come across a small group of Audouin’s Gulls along with a single Yellow-legged Gull.
Stopping for lunch in a delightful and friendly road side restaurant, with great cheap local food we see an Orphean Warbler in the scrub and Turtle Dove on the wires. In the evening just outside the Hotel we are treated to Little owl and Scops Owls. Life bird count: 375 Year bird count: 244 Month bird count: 47

Thursday 2 October 2008

N. Cyprus (Coast west of Kyrenia) – 15th & 16th September 2008

Taking the coast road and heading west from our base on the outskirts of Kyrenia we saw only locally common birds like Hooded Crow, House Sparrow & Great Tit. Until, that is, we hit the smaller road out to Sadrazamkoy when things opened up and the common birds increase to Crested Lark and Cyprus Warbler with Grey Heron, Little Egret and Shag in numbers off the coast. Out on the small western peninsula, we had good views of Peregrine Falcon, Bee Eater, Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Blue Rock Thrush, with Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover on the Gecitkoy Reservoir. Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 239 Month bird count: 35

Monday 8 September 2008

Norfolk (Cley, Kelling & Hickling) – 30th August 2008

Starting at Cley Coastguards sea watching for over 3 hours from about 7 am produced Great Skua, Common Tern, Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill and a single Manx Shearwater (way out). From there we moved to Kelling water meadow and on the pool there found Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and a Whitethroat lurking in the shrubs with plenty of Swallows over. The final call was Hickling Broad where we add the haziest of views of a Marsh Sandpiper, numerous Ruff, Little Gull, Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper. Then the added bonus of Marsh Tit and Meadow Pipit around the nearby wooded area. Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 233 Month bird count: 100

Monday 1 September 2008

Landguard – 29th August 2008

A late sunny afternoon drive out to try and catch a reported Citrine Wagtail in this case proved unsuccessful. However there were birds in good numbers to be seen. The heath was abundant with Northern Wheatear and quite a large flock of feeding Starlings. There were Common Gull and Terns over and within the Radar compound Yellow Wagtail, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 229 Month bird count: 83

Monday 11 August 2008

Bawdsey – 9th August 2008

A good morning walk around the water here, whilst not producing any surprises was non the less productive. Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe (with young) were all on the water. Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail were in the margins. Off the fields there were numerous Linnets, Greenfinches and a Sparrowhawk. Whilst over we saw Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Swallow and Sand Martin. Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 229 Month bird count: 79

Monday 4 August 2008

Titchwell – 2nd August 2008

Hot summer days are not always contusive to the most exciting birding; with the breeding season all but over, sites can go through a quiet period. However the return of waders from their northern breeding sites opens up a great vista of birds hanging on to their summer plumage and there are few sites better than Titchwell to view these retuning birds in August. There was the spectacle of tens of Ruff in various plumages from almost all white to speckled brown juveniles, a number of Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin with their black breast plate, Golden Plover and Grey Plover in full summer dress and a collection of returning Sanderling and Turnstones on the beach. A Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well on the fresh marsh as were six Eider just off shore. A Water Rail and Bearded Tits graced the edges of the read bed and there were many a Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, red head and necks clearly showing. Off shore there were fishing Common and Sandwich Terns, plus Common Gull. The only disappointment was a after trip to Cley was rained off, but hey this is England and summers are like that!
Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 229 Month bird count: 71

Friday 11 July 2008

Anglesey – 4th to 6th July 2008

We decided to take a break from East Anglian birding and head of for a weekend in Anglesey with the object of getting some closer views of seabirds that only manage a fly by whilst we sea watch for hours in the Autumn of Norfolk.
Being totally honest we were not disappointed and from the very start hit great views of Black Guillemot at Fedw Fawr along with Gannet, Kittiwake, Shag and Rock Pipit. The next day we headed for the South Stack and had good views of Guillemots and Razorbill in high numbers both fishing and settling on the rock face. It was a bit more of a challenge to find Puffin but eventually we had one in the water and one on the cliff face. Other notes were Chough and Raven.
In land we headed for Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve and had a fleeting glimpse of Dipper along with Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Tawny Owl and Redstart. Finally back to the South Stack both evenings for views of high numbers of Manx Shearwaters passing by. Life bird count: 372 Year bird count: 224 Month bird count: 77

Thursday 19 June 2008

Landguard & Felixstowe Ferry – 1st June 2008

Reports of migrants dropping into Landguard are always prevalent at this time of year, so a speculative visit is very often worthwhile.
On the common there was much breeding activity with Whitethroat and Linnet very much evident along with some more common finches. We also saw Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Swallow through.
At Felixstowe Ferry a walk out produced Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Redshank, more Linnets, with Common Tern and all the regular Gulls over. No rarities, but a very fruitful day none the less. Life bird count: 369 Year bird count: 211 Month bird count: 49

Thursday 12 June 2008

Local patch – 24th May 2008

It was time to do the second bird survey of the year this weekend and the period of time between the two visits was some indication of the number of summer visitors that could be seen or heard. In summary the visit produced a good number of Swallows, House Martins, single Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Turtle Dove. Plus Skylark, Treecreeper and all the other normal suspects.
Life bird count: 369 Year bird count: 210 Month bird count: 73

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Trimley Trout Lake – 18th May 2008

We spent two or three hours here, walking out toward Trimley marsh. They prove quite contrasting to a winter trip, with the summer visitors all having arrived, the first point of note was the number of Swifts and House Martins continually feeding off the insects over the lake.
On the lake its self there were Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, Graylag (with Goslings) and Canada (with Goslings). In the reeds we heard both Sedge and Reed Warbler and had very good views of a Cuckoo so obviously looking for a suitable nest. Further up around the fields toward the marsh Whitethroats were very much in evidence sharing the gorse with numerous Long-tailed Tit.
Back along the shore line we had good views of Avocet, Oystercatcher and Little Egret. Life bird count: 369 Year bird count: 206 Month bird count: 56

Monday 12 May 2008

Spain (Day 5) – Arecena Area – 22nd April 2008

Our final dedicated birding day, we decided to stay relatively local and generally tour around and pick up local species in the hills. One of the beauties of Spain and birding is that there are so many small roads over large areas and these are very lightly used, so on seeing something from the car there is little problem in stopping and using the car as a hide taking a good look.
The morning started well watching Ravens circling up in some light thermals, then just a bit lower two Black Storks came over, fresh into the breading season. Around Granada de la Rio Tinto we saw Pallid Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and Golden Eagle. Heading further north a longer stop produced Olivaceous Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Bee Eater and Iberian Chiffchaff, then south again for Dartford Warbler, Wryneck and Griffon Vulture. I have to say one of the most impressive sights of the trip was finding a Black Vulture feeding just over a dry stone wall, it took off with several Ravens and was just the most enormous bird I had ever seen!
For the record the total number of species seen on the trip was 127 of these 74 were new for the year and of these 8 were life firsts for us.
Life bird count: 369 Year bird count: 203 Month bird count: 155

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Spain (Day 4) – Huelva – 21st April 2008

A much improved day weather wise and the weekend out of the way always leaves me with a feeling of being on holiday again, especially when you see all those other folk plodding off to work.
Cutting across country to the N435, our plan was to cover both sides of the river delta around Huelva. Starting on the east we first stopped on the shore line of the river and were amazed at the number of waders including Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank and Whimbrel all good views and in high numbers.
Next we drove the A494 towards Ruinas Torre Vigia, along the sides of this road there is quite a lot of industrial sites but they are interspersed with areas of marsh land and stopping at these produced some very good birds; Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Montagu’s Harrier and two Purple Swamp Hens. After lunch it was back up and across the river to the western side of the city/town, here there is a long peninsula leading out to a light house and the views off both sides have to be seen to be believed. Attracting a fair number of this slow drive was very productive, noting; Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Tern and Common Tern. Finaly we headed a little further west to Laguna del Portil finding a large lake to pick up Black-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck and a Bonelli’s Eagle. A truly brilliant day.
Life bird count: 366 Year bird count: 191 Month bird count: 128

Sunday 4 May 2008

Spain (Day 3) – Sierras Polada & Morena – 19th April 2008

The weather was not the best today, after a very wet night there was still very heavy cloud cover and intermittent showers. We decide to head north-west towards the Portuguese border and visit the Sierras. En route there wasn’t a lot more to report, but as soon as we were off the main roads and heading up higher things got more interesting, our first stop produced Cirl Bunting, Thekla Lark, Redstart and a Bonelli’s Warbler. Then further up around a bridge that we expected to see more Swallows and Wagtail, there was a very small House Martin size bird acting “swift like”, eventually we had a positive ID on two White-rumped Swifts! Happy to progress to the highest point we could clearly see a Black Vulture more cruising than soaring, with the weather as it was. Heading off across country to another Sierra region the Morena we had Short-toed Lark and White Wagtail en-route. Starting off, again by a river crossing, there was a lone Common Sandpiper feeding in the river bed, along with numerous nesting Crag Martins and Stonechats. This Sierra is much lower and the birds changed accordingly on the tour round Woodlark and Sardinian Warbler were common plus calling Corn Buntings and Blackcaps.
Life bird count: 365 Year bird count: 173 Month bird count: 116