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)