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Sunday, 14 December 2014

More Great Benacre birds

Sunday 14 December, another sunny but cold day saw me back at Benacre. Trudging along the beach to join Dick W, photographing 3 Shore Larks feeding on the edge of the broad. I carefully set up my photographic gear and was going to carefully join him without disturbing birds when a birdwatcher walked up to him asking what the Diver was on the Broad and subsequently scaring the Shore Larks to fly north seemingly over to the stubble field north of the Broad, great! I looked out over the Broad and saw the Great Northern Diver swimming in the middle constantly diving, it was still too far away for any decent pictures sadly. Dick and I then saw 2 lovely Sanderlings wandering towards us and we got some close views of these great birds. Dick refund the 3 Shore Larks along the northern edge of the Broad and we took the next 3/4 hour or so looking at and photographing them. From the hide, I spied 3 Goldeneye, 2 males and a female at the back of the Broad, they suddenly took to flight and then flew clockwise around the Broad 3X before settling relatively close to the hide before swimming left. At the back of Covehithe Church, looking out over the field, walking down by the bushes, I saw 4 Redwings calling "pssst" and 1 bird perched up high in the bush. Again I met up with Dick we spied 4 Bramblings, 2 smart males and 2 females in the bushes amongst the Chaffinches and Linnets. On the way back we stopped off by the lay-by at Kessingland Levels and looked west to see 7 smart Whooper Swans, all adults in pristine plumage in the field there, 6 were in a group together with 1 slightly separated from them by 10 yards or so.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Return to Benacre in days of yore, i.e. lots of great winter birds to see!

On Saturday 6th December I headed to Benacre Broad. Parking at Covehithe I walked down to the Broad and could see a guy scoping something from the northern end from the beach as I walked over I noticed the excellent Great Northern Diver that was swimming in the middle of the broad and swimming north, it dived frequently and we were lucky that it came reasonably close by the buoy, only problem was the autofocus wasn't working very well so I had to switch to manual. The bird then spent a little time by the buoy before swimming south and going back to the middle of the Broad again. As we were watching it, I noticed 2 female Goldeneye at the back and often just behind the Diver was a female Common Scoter. That Scoter was then joined by another 2 Scoters, making a fine total of a trio of female Common Scoters. Walking along the stubble field just south of the Broad, I heard a Snow Bunting's trilling call but failed to see any birds. Seeing danny P, he had just seen them on the cliff edge and they had flown south. I walked along the cliffs to Covehithe Broad and immediately spotted the fine redhead Smew that was swimming south along the northern end giving reasonable scope views as she swam. Further along in the dunes, I encountered Chris D who was photographing the 3 Shore Larks feeding along the Broad edge. They were reasonably confiding and Chris discreetly left, and kindly left the birds for me to photograph. There was really good light but I was slightly hampered because the autofocus was playing up again and I had to rely on manual focusing again, which was difficult considering the birds spent 95% of their time feeding usually behind a ridge of sand and then behind fronds of small grasses on the beach and were continually on the move constantly feeding. I continued to watch and attempted to photograph them in this way or the next half an hour, all other walkers along the beach, including most dog walkers discretely passed along the seaward side of the beach, until inevitably after 30 minutes a dog flushed them and they flew a short way to the northern broad edge where they again began feeding. After a further 10 minutes, I left them and put a returning Danny P onto them too. I could see he was standing in the Dunes and photographing them on the Broad edge where I had originally seen them with Chris.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Goosander at Leathes Ham

On Sunday 30th November, another dull day, a look from Asda revealed 1 Cormorant sitting on a post. Having checked Twitter when I reached home, I went out in the pouring rain and managed to get good views of a fine male Goosander, complete with dark green head (which looked black in the appalling light) and pinkish flush to the breast and underparts a super bird which swam past the island. Around 24 Pintail, 12 pairs. 9 pairs all together on the close island. A sharp call revealed a fine Kingfisher flying past from left to right. The rain was getting worse so I beat a hasty retreat to the car, all ready to return armed with camera early the next morning.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Shore Larks!

On Saturday 29th November, a very long walk from Kessingland to first the eastern edge of Benacre Broad edge and then Covehithe Broad edge was initially very cold and with a biting easterly wind. Birds were few and far between, but what I did see was quality. On the Pit, 2 Little Grebes seen. Then meeting up with Danny P and Barry W, I decided to check the Broad edge and immediately saw 2 Shore Larks actively feeding here. A female Common Scoter was on the north east part of the Broad. The Shore Larks fed on the Broad edge for 10 minutes before flying south. Walking down to Covehithe broad, a dead Bull Grey seal was sadly lying on the beach. Then incredibly, after meeting Clive N, 3 Shore Larks flew to the Broad edge giving good views albeit in poor light. As they flew in, one bird called, a lovely liquid "eehhh-diiidi"sound and they started to feed by the Broad edge. They feed here for 10 minutes before flying a little further north to the north east side of the Broad feeding again. Many thanks to Danny P for giving me a lift from Covehithe back to Kessingland. Very handy, especially as I had to back home by noon.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Two wet Waxwings

At around 12.30pm today on Sunday 23rd November, I drove past Tennyson road again and 2 of the 3 Waxwings were sat on the aerial again, one then both flew down presumably to feed on the berries by the old people's home courtyard. Both birds looked very wet in the steady rain that was falling at the time (which lasted typically all day!)

Waxwings at Tennyson road

I drove down Artillery Way on the morning of Saturday 22nd November, hoping to see the Waxwings that had been seen there over the last few days, no luck so I drove down to the battery Green roundabout and drove back and parked in Arnold Street as I could see at least 1 Waxwing perched on an aerial. I was joined by Paul & Jane F. It was soon joined by 2 more and they regularly flew from here in to a berry tree in the inner courtyard of an old people's home. walking around from the Tennyson road entrance, 1 and then 2 Waxwings were seen on the berry laden tree. They fed for a while and then flew back to the aerial. All 3 Waxwings were either seen on the aerial or the chimney pot. The birds would frequently flycatch, flying up high then swooping down and settle back on the aerial. When we were joined by OFB and then Jon E. We waited and several times 1 or 2 birds would fly down and feed from berries from the tree before flying up again.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

RIP Malcolm F

I was very saddened to hear that Malcolm F had passed away at the weekend. I had known Malcolm since the early 1980's, he used to live, I believe, at Reydon and then moved to the Saints near Halesworth, Suffolk. Often, I would quite literally, bump into Malcolm whilst birding around Southwold, Benacre or Minsmere. Malcolm was an excellent birder, finding many rare birds, including a Serin at Southwold. Above all, I remember Malcolm's cheerfulness and exuberance, despite occasional bouts of ill health. Malcolm was very keen to get to a bird and wouldn't allow any vegetation to stand in his way. He was well liked and was a very sociable man and it was always good to have a chat with him and share in his extensive ornithological knowledge. Looking back at my blog, it was Malcolm who advised me to look at Sizewell for the King Eider on Nov 15th 2010 and due to his excellent advice, I was able to add a very smart male King Eider onto my Birthday list. More recently, Malcolm and I had shared an incredible experience of watching an Osprey which fished on Blythburgh estuary (8 Sept 2013), it was Malcolm that put me onto a Glow Worm larvae wriggling across the path ahead of us. In more recent years, Malcolm had also embraced social media particularly Twitter. He described himself on there as "an old birdwatcher in the Saints, a rural area of Suffolk, North East of Halesworth." I used to look forward to his tweets about him seeing Turtle Doves in his garden. Something we would chat about when I saw him. On Twitter, he followed 74 people (including my tweets) and I was 1 of his 75 followers. He will be very sadly missed by all his birding friends and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. RIP Malcolm.