Saturday, 7 February 2015

Harlequin and other Scottish Wildlife

Adam and I spent the day in Scotland yesterday (6th Feb).

The aim was to see the long staying Harlequin Duck in Aberdeen.

We left at midnight and on a positive note we did see around 15 Barn Owls driving through Norfolk and the Early part of Lincolnshire.

We arrived at Seaton Park at around 9.15 and then we walked upstream along the river, Goldeneye and Goosander were showing well.


Then we came to the Harlequin Duck, at first it was preening but not long after it started to feed, diving into the fast flowing water.








We watched the bird for about an hour before heading home via the southern part of the Cairngorms.

We looked for Grouse around the Braemar Area, got really lucky finding a Black Grouse lek down one of the Glenss, two Ravens flew over also.

Also found two Dipper in the river.


The lek was a long way up a side of a mountain and I could only get a picture of two of the females


The view wasn't bad though


Also got some distant views of Mountain Hare which was great.


and some even further views of Red Deer.


As we left this Glen a hooded Crow flew in and a Buzzard spooked two Red Grouse


We moved on and on a brief stop to photograph some closer Red Deer


We saw a much closer Red Grouse 


And a much closer Mountain Hare



can you spot the Hare? see the video at the end for the answer.


One more stop on the along the way and viewing 40+ Red Grouse in a single flock Adam found 4 Ptarmigan three of which were in their pure white plumage, a great end to a great days twitching



Tuesday, 3 February 2015

New Years Day Bird Race - late but worth the read

Been really busy of late doing the house up. Didn't really get chance to do any birding during November and December.

Still doing plenty of DIY during January I didn't expect to get much birding done but I did manage a few days here and there.

1st of January was the annual bird race day, no records broken on a very trying day where the wind played havoc and the darkness of the night never really seemed to disappear.

I normally do a full write up but as its February it hardly now seems worth it, so here is a summary of the day.

Leave at 5.30 pick up Dad and Adam see Blackbird at Adams and Tawny Owl at Wells.

Get to Titchwell clock up 68 species total to 70, highlights had to be Peregrine flying along the beach and a male Hen Harrier.


Same picture taken each year but it has never been this dark - Brackish Marsh Titchwell


Only blue sky seen all day - Titchwll

Next Choseley clock up a whopping 1 species total to 71, highlights had to be the Red-legged Partridge as it was the only bird we saw.

Then Thornham and here only 1 species added, total to 72, but at least Twite is a worthy highlight.

Next Holme added 9 species total to 81, Highlights Snow Bunting and Stonechat


Above - Hunstanton from Holme and below Dad and Adam after seeing the Snow Buntings



After this Snettisham added 8 species total to 89, highlights Black-necked Grebe and Glaucous Gull


Glaucous Gull

A quick stop at Roydon added 3 species total to 92, highlights Green Woodpecker

Then Flitcham added 6 species total to 98, highlights Brambling and Tree Sparrow

At this point we had given up hope on the usual route of ending at Hickling to headed for Brancaster here we saw Tundra Bean Goose total to 99

After that Gun Hill where only Barn Owl was seen bird 100.

Holkham - White-fronted Goose 101

Stifkey - Sparrowhawk and Short-eared Owl 103

Last stop was Salthouse but by this point we were hoping to see a Canada Goose in the car headlights so added nothing in the pitch black ending the day on 103. We did miss some really 'easy' birds, like Canada Goose, Pied Wagtail, Egyptian Goose, Siskin, Bullfinch and Treecreeper just to name a few.

Now For the Serious Stuff......

For you statisticians out there Black-necked Grebe was a 1st January Lifer for me bringing my 1st January Norfolk life list to 172! after 18 years of completing a 1st list

The last 13 years I have had a list over 100.

Out of the 172 on 37 have been seen every year, Pied Wagtail has now not been seen twice (2006,2015)

On the other end of the spectrum 26 have only ever been seen once.

Bean Goose (Tundra) and Short-eared Owl were recorded only for the second time in 2015.

Biggest bogie birds still never seen on the first Grey Wagtail, Goosander, Bittern and Crossbill.

And finally the saddest stat of them all the Sparrowhawk at Stifkey was the 1800th 1st January bird logged by me (my 18 years of totals is now to 1801 which is 100.05 average per year)


Thursday, 6 November 2014

One of those days....(of the good version)

Sometimes you head out birding and everything just falls into place, Saturday was one of them days.

I headed to Breydon Water in the hope of seeing a Rough-legged Buzzard well as I had heard that they were showing well down there.

After sorting the kid out I headed off and got to Breydon at about 9.45.

Instantly I could see a huge flock of Golden Plover, I spent some time scanning through for a slightly smaller grey version but could pick anything of note out.

I carried on and could hear the Golden Plover calling I turned around to see them all in the air.

Many Little Egrets were along the dyke next to the sea wall.


I had a practice at trying to get some flight shots, something I struggle with on my camera.


Unless the flight is stationary, like this Kestrel.




Two Brent geese were feeding next to the bank showing well.


I continued walking through the wind and rain and wondered why? I eventually spotted a Rough-legged Buzzard flying around and being mobbed by a Marsh Harrier. I watched it in the distance and carried on walking watching it fly around as I went on my way.

I saw it land so carried on walking to get a closer look. I eventually got to a spot were I could see the Rough-legged Buzzard on a distant post.


It took off from the post and started hunting over the field, at this point 12 Twite flew over my head and disappeared.





I continued to watch the Rough-legged Buzzard as it got mobbed my Crow's, Lapwings, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. It really was nice being out there all by myself.

I picked up the other two Rough-legged Buzzards also flying behind the mill.

I wondered back and then came across the Twite again, but this time they were showing very well right next to the path. Once again it was lovely to have these birds all to myself.







I walked on an a bird in the sky caught my eye, I initially thought it was a Peregrine but upon getting the bins on it it appeared to have a dark breast, it was the briefest of views but it certainly looked different as it flew off strong down Breydon Water.

Walking some more I could see a Kestrel mobbing a Short-eared Owl, It was then joined by a second Short-eared Owl flying over the fields. I then walked up to the field and got fantastic view of the two Short-eared Owls hunting over the field.




I walked on and flushed a third Short-eared Owl from right next to the path it flew further along and landed on the shore and did it best effort to look like a Long-eared.




I had to carry on walking and the Owl flew back towards it original spot on the bank.



(the video shows the Short-eared Owls and the Golden Plover from earlier and Brent Geese)


I left Breydon with the weather improving and the rain moving out leaving this wonderful scene.


I then popped into Suffolk to see the Hoopoe.





Luckily I was the last person to see it as it flew off and did not return. I did get a chance to see this Jackdaw on the moon whilst searching for the Hoopoe.



Saturday, 25 October 2014

Patch and Surf Scoter

Friday 25th Oct I got to Trimingham at around dawn, a few Goldcrest were in the cliff top wood, and a notable increase of Robin numbers were around.

Walking around the loop and the Church I added Bullfinch (my first in Trimingham for a while) and a couple of Chiffchaff,

A Red Kite flew over the road.

Walking the cliffs a flock of 16 Skylark came in off the sea and 3 Yellowhammers shortly after.

Scanning the fields a Short-eared Owl flew through.

Today I popped to Holkham.

I parked up on Lady Ann's Drive and walked along the track towards Washington Hide, about 300 yards west two Firecrests were in the Holm oaks.



I carried on walking and the rest of the wood seemed quiet, I followed the boardwalk along and headed for the sea.

It was a matter of seconds before I located the Surf Scoter, the White patch on the back of the head was very striking in the sunshine even though the bird was very distant.


Lol Record Shots



The bird remained distant with 4/5 Velvet Scoter, a couple of Common Scoter, Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebe were also on the sea.

After this I walked back to the main track through the saltmarsh. Nearly at the boardwalk I watched as a dog chased away the very confiding Grey Phalarope. I was nice to see a Phalarope in a high flight (I felt it looked a bit like a Bat) but it wasn't so good to watch it flyoff over the trees.

After Holkham I had a look at Burnham Overy and saw the Great White Egret and then headed home with a stop a Salthouse to see my second Grey Phalarope of the day.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Grey Phalarope, Snow Bunting and some patch Yellow-browed Warblers.

Here is a brief update,

Last week I saw the Steppe Grey Shrike, and went and sat in the hide for 7 hours to not see the Little Crake.

Yesterday I went to Cley saw the Grey Phalarope.





A Snow Bunting was also there showing well.



I then popped around Stifkey and Holkham only seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler at Stifkey.

Today I popped to Trimingham and got a surprise at the number of migrants around, Chiffchaffs, Redwings, Fieldfares, Jays, Mistle Thrush's and some less common migrants with 3 Ring Ouzels and two Yellow-browed Warblers, here is one of them.




Monday, 22 September 2014

Patch and a Caspian Gull

Sorry I am behind I am juggling birding, and an extension being built on the house which involves everyone moving out so a very busy man.

The morning of the 5th September I popped down to Trimingham to see what was about I arrived at the Cliffs at around 8.05 and had a scan around and within 5mins I was on a Balearic Shearwater a great patch tick.

The wind was strong and birds were hard to see, I found a Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Whitethroat.

After a longer walk around I got onto two Whinchat.


I continued around the cliff top not seeing much else.

I had to go to Cromer so popped down to see the Caspian Gull that had been around a few days (now a few weeks)





The next day I done the other areas of my patch, Pigney's Wood, Witton Church and Ebridge.

Pigneys first and a large number of Chiffchaff were around and the only other bird of note was the Cetti's Warbler that has returned like they do every winter.

I did see a second generation Snout at Pigney's an then got another in the trap that night.


I then went to Witton Church found a small tit flock (Greats and Blue) with a few Chaffinch and then struck another patch tick as a Pied Flycatcher was flying around.

I then had a scan around as Witton Church has a brilliant vantage point and in the distance 4 Cranes circled in the sky.

This cool snail was also at the Church


and this Roesel's Bush Cricket


After the church I went to Ebridge where 3 or maybe 4 Whinchat were flicking around.


and this distant Hobby had be rushing back to the Car to get my scope to make sure it wasn't something better.