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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Great White Egret saves the day

Arriving at Hamilton Dock at midday, I missed the GNDiver by seconds as it swam left either into another dock or along Lake Lothing. Visiting Fritton woods, viewing from the mound only revealed the pale Common Buzzard sitting in a field. No sign of the RLB (5th time I've dipped on this bird! Sotterley and Hawfinches spring to mind!) or the GWE in very windy conditions. I decided to walk out to Chedgrave marshes walking along the cut from St. Olaves bridge, after 2 miles and past a pylon and house I saw the Alison & Chris A, they had just seen the GWE in flight just left of the caravan and a yellow post. I'd just missed it by 5 minutes despite keeping an eye on the area as I was walking up. After 20 minutes they left and 5 minutes later at 2.40pm, just from the right of there, the excellent Great White Egret complete with all yellow bill flew up and flew left a little way before landing, spreading its large white wings as it landed. It was seen out in the open briefly for a couple of minutes before disappearing into reeds and then becoming partially and finally completely obscured. Also around 300 Pink- footed Geese seen on the marsh, plus a hunting Barn Owl and 2 female Marsh Harriers quartering the fields.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Great Northern Diver at Hamilton Dock & no show (yet again!!) at Fritton

Switching on the phone, a tweet from Rob to say a GN Diver was at Hamilton Dock and within 15 minutes I was on site strolling along I saw Guy O, but could not see the Diver or the Shag for that matter. No sooner had Guy and his friend got in their car than the excellent Great Northern Diver reappeared swimming left from the jetty/ boat area at the back. I called back Guy, and the Diver then eventually swam into the north- eastern corner just a few metres from us and therefore showing extremely well at times, especially when people knelt down by the block it was happy to hunt close by, in front of an appreciative audience. It had a particular liking for Crabs and must have caught at least 7 or 8 during the two hour period of observation. It was joined by 2 Shag at one point, hunting not too far away too and I noted their characteristic jumping hunting dive on a variety of occasions. I was later joined by Ricky F, Jon E, Paul W, John H, Justin & his brother, Steve & Dot, Rene B and others. The bird would then swim back often to the far side before swimming back again and showing exceptionally well in the north- east corner. The bird frequently dived during the 120 minutes observation period hunting for food. At Fritton Woods mound, I saw Andrew E, Rob Wil, Paul & Jane F and Paul W again. Both the RLB (4th time I have dipped this bird) and GWE had just been seen but they failed to appear from 2pm to dusk. A Sparrowhawk flew east in over the wood and our heads! A Peregrine Falcon perched on a fence post out on the marshes was the only significant bird seen.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Catch Up

Overall a very wet Christmas, I drove across to Wales to see the family on the afternoon of Saturday 22nd December. At Fleet early morning (staying with cousins) on Sunday 23rd I saw a Grey Squirrel run across the lawn and bury a nut right in the middle carefully pacing it beneath a tussock of grass, no doubt "squirrelling away" for a hard winter treat. 3 Robins were seen, 2 males who inevitably squared up to each other thrusting their chests out and then launching at each other whilst the female looked on disdainfully! Between Reading and Newberry whilst driving west along the M4 I saw a Red Kite on the left hand side of the road flying, using its forked tail as a a rudder in flight, a Buzzard was seen near Swindon. On Christmas day, in the rain a Nuthatch came to the food Mum put out at the Lodge at Llanddarogg and at my sister-in law's at Llannon, I saw 2 Mistle Thrush, perched on overhead wires opposite. On Boxing Day, further rain restricted my birding actvities but 2 Nuthatches came to the food Mum put out plus 3 inquisitive Jays and a loud "croak" revealed a Raven flying over the Lodge and south. A quick visit to the stream and I saw 4 Redwing on a distant tree, a Nuthatch showed well fairly high up in a tree and Goldcrest in trees by the stream. Finally, a Red Kite flew east across the fields seen from the Lodge. Thursday 27th early on the 2 Nuthatches came to food again and I was able to get a half decent shot of one of them. A pair of Raven again flew over the Lodge as did a Buzzard. A visit to the Cymisfael stream revealed an excellent Willow Tit, my first of 2012, by the Whitehall bridge, seen initially foraging deep in some bushes it flew up to a tree showing its bull- necked appearance, long matt black crown extending well onto the nape and a very white cheeks, another buffy bird that flew away earlier may have been a second. Walking back along the stream, first a Goldcrest seen in a fir tree (Treecreeper heard also) and an immature Grey Wagtail seen feeding by the edge. A Buzzard flew over the woods here by the stream. Finally mid afternoon on the return journey, just before turning onto the main road at Llanddarogg, a Raven flew left over the road and the fields. 2 Buzzards seen one near Cross Hands and another near Swindon (a pale bird) on the return journey east along the M4.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sparrowhawk Kill

At 9.45am today Saturday 22nd December, a male Sparrowhawk landed in the garden perched on the bird table roof for what must have been a preliminary reconnaisance. At 10.25am he was back with murderous intent as he swooped in low talons out at the last minute, all the birds scattered but he caught a female Chaffinch as it tried to evade his clutches in mid air. He then stood at the end of the lawn with the unfortunate Chaffinch pinned to the ground, pecking at it before minutes later he flew back over Fallowfields.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy and bird/ wildlife- filled 2013, thank you for taking the time to read the blog and they'll be more posts later this year and 2013. Cheers everyone!

No sign of Rough- leg

Quick visits to Burgh Castle (18th), Fritton Woods (19th & 21st) failed to reveal the sought after Rough- leg this week (15 minutes scanning on each occasion due to strict 1 hour lunch breaks!) On the two latter dates I saw the very pale (complete cream white underparts and belly) Common Buzzard perched on a fence post gate (2oth) and also the end of a section of gates (21st). On the 21st I saw 2 hunting Short- eared Owls too.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Night Blackbird

Monday 17th December, an adult female Blackbird flew across the road in the pitch black, half way along Park meadows, Lowestoft very near my home at 5.15pm and perched on a fence post on the south side of the road, as I was driving home from work. Tuesday 18th December tried to view Fritton/ Chedgrave marshes from Burgh Castle at lunchtime, I couldn't see the marshes so failed to see any of the goodies there currently. Unfortunately, I cannot quite manage the Fritton woods site in a one hour lunchbreak!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Benacre: Back to its Winter Best!

A thoroughly enjoyable day, started off this morning on driving past Oulton Broad Mutford Lock bridge on the jetty, there were at least 2 immature Shag on the jetty brown plumage and white chins duly noted (seen whilst driving slowly over!), 2 other darker birds may well have been Cormorants. Whilst approaching the A12 Kessingland bypass, I saw a bird perched up on bushes which I was sure was a Waxwing, having to drive right down to the end of the bypass and back again in a loop, I then took the turn onto London road (the old road to Kessingland) and immediately saw 7 Waxwings perched up in the tree there. They flew down briefly to some nearby berries before flying back again. They spent a lot of time in the tree before suddenly taking to flight and flying south perhaps to Heathlands caravan park, a great start and my 4th lot of Waxwings self-found this winter! At Covehithe Church, I walked to the back (north of the church) and in the line of bushes on the northern edge of the church plot, there were an incredible 15 Brambling perched including at least 6 very smart winter males showing all blacks and oranges on the eastern most bush, an incredible sight that I had last seen in Sweden! 13 flew to the field opposite, whilst 2 females stayed for a further few minutes before also flying into the field. Joining a group of birders including Dave & Pauline, work colleagues, we enjoyed a mixed flock of finches which included at least a dozen Bramblings, which fed on the path leading to nowhere, literally the end of the cliff! I saw 3 Brambling including another smart male. One bird was in front of us whilst the others were at the back. On the sea, were several Common Scoter, 3 single females, and group of 3 Common Scoter were in a raft on the sea. A Brent Goose flew south as did 3 separate Red- throated Divers and I was briefly shown a Grebe that looked like Slav, but the brief view was yet another untickable Grebe view from this weekend. We then saw Dick W walking back and he reported the good news that the Smew were still there. Walking down to the Broad and up the newly installed side stairs, a preliminary scan of the Broad first revealed 4 Scaup, including 1 male and 3 females, seen directly out from the Hide and by the far side initially before they swam more to the middle of the Broad. Later on I spotted the excellent male Smew, white with black lines like "cracked ice" was seen at the back near the western end of the Broad, some of the time it was asleep before resuming its feeding whilst diving. A female Smew or "Redhead" later joined it swimming out from the western end of the Broad. 7 Goldeneye were seen including 1 smart adult male, 1 immature male and 5 females. many Gulls were seen on water but I couldn't make out any rarer species. Also later seen by the Scaups was a smart female Common Scoter. Benacre was really very enjoyable today with lots of winter goodies producing the goods like it used to do regularly during winter birding forays in the eighties. Happy memories! A very convivial atmosphere at Benacre today too. I wanted to see and photograph the HAR again, so I then drove down to Aldeburgh and was pleased to see John E there, initially the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll was very flighty (unusually for such a previously confiding bird) some of the people there were getting a little too close, I also saw Rob Wils, the bird photographer there too, he was giving out plenty of birding photography tips! I first saw the Arctic Redpoll on the middle of the beach perched on the shingle briefly, before it flew to weeds near the seawall for all of 2 minutes. A few over eager people were again crowding it, pushing it again and it flew right up and west to perch up on the top of a yacht's sailing mast by the Sailing Club. It then flew down to the fence by the Slaughden Quay car park, before flying up to another yacht mast. I was then joined by John E again and the bird flew towards us and settled beside us feeding in weeds barely 15 feet away, on the top of the bank going down to the quay car park. It fed here for sometime and we filled up our memory cards in celebration! The Arctic Redpoll then flew back to the beach, where it was seen at the base of some steps before flying north to some weedy bushes feeding again. It flew north to the top of a clock tower on a building before once again flying south along the beach calling as it went past us. It was great to see Andrew H & Tina here and I am especially glad they enjoy reading the blog! A tweet from Dick W and I was soon looking west of the Blythburgh water tower, looking for wild swans, where my search was initially unsuccessful, before seeing Gerald J and we then decided to look from the layby by the A12 just south of Blythburgh. From the layby, we saw 4 Whooper Swans and 7 Bewick's Swans in the middle of the field, the larger Whoopers (with yellow extending down the bill) were at the front and roughly in the middle of the flock of swans.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

American Buff- bellied Pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir

Travelling home from work on Thursday 13th December just yards from the Tesco Gunton roundabout at 5.40pm on the A12 a Fox ran across the busy road from right to left disappearing into the trees on the western edge of Tesco car park. An early start this morning, Saturday 15th December and I was kindly given a lift by Morris B and we picked up Roy H near Morrison's at Beccles. The object of our quest, an American Buff- bellied Pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir, near London in Berkshire. Three and a quarter hours later, we drew through the gates of Yacht club there, paid a £2 day permit each and a twenty minute walk later, we aimed for the crowd gathered on the bank, there must have been around 120 birders all gathered in one spot, just past the jetty/ pier. Looking down on the grassy sides of the reservoir just feet away was the excellent American Buff- bellied Pipit . The bird was seen on the reservoir bank sides feeding on insects and midges around the green weed encrusted stones/ concrete that were here. The bird was constantly on the move feeding on these insects running back and forwards, rarely stopping. once it flew to the Pier gantry, perching at the top of the fence. Before it flew back to reservoir bank, the other side where I first saw it running towards me and past me, before it ran back again. It stopped at the edge of the water, it preened and was fully lit in the sun, rather than being in the usual shade. It was a distinctive Pipit, with grey brown upperparts and very distinctive buffy underparts. The buffy areas being particularly prevalent on the sides of the underparts with a noticeable whitish under-tail coverts area. The head had fine streaking on the crown there was a dark line above the eye. It shows a prominent off-white eye- ring, with just a hint of a cream supercilia "flare" behind the eye and a corresponding darker area in front of the eye. The mantle and back had fine streaking. The wing bars were cream- coloured, with broad but short streaking on the breast with them being more diffuse on the flanks/ breast sides. The legs were jet black. The bill showed a very pale orange buff colouration to the two- thirds part of the basal lower mandible. The bird was then seen feeding and running along the reservoir bank once more, a cracking bird and my second new bird for 2012. The pictures published alongside this post were taken in the shady conditions by the bank under the wall/ path circling the reservoir and it doesn't really convey how buffy the bird was on its underparts, which were really buffy. The upperparts also appeared less grey and more buff- grey in good light too. A Red- necked Grebe was by a Great Crested Grebe, it was on the far side of the reservoir, but it was so far away, all I could see was a slightly smaller Grebe than the GC Grebe, therefore rendering me with untickable views of what would been a very nice bird to see. I had last visited here just over 25 years ago following the Great Storm of 1987 where I had seen my first Sabine's Gull, an immature flying around this same part of the reservoir! Apparently there were 367 visiting birders at the reservoir today, which I'm told is a record crowd for a twitch in Berkshire. On the way back to Beccles along the A146 just after the roundabout we saw 4 single Golden Plovers in one field to the north of the road.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Foraging Jay

A foraging Jay in the back garden in the south- west corner at 7.50am this morning, it appeared to pick up a shard of apple and flew off towards Fallowfields. A group of around 30 Jackdaw were flying south over Caister road, Great Yarmouth.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Lone Waxwing

As I was about to put the car on the road this morning at 7.45am this morning, I heard the wonderful distinctive trill of a Waxwing some way behind me. As I turned I saw a lone Waxwing fly low directly overhead and at roof top height flying right over our house! It circled once as if trying to land (perhaps it spotted our berry laden bush at the front!) before thinking better of it and continued on its way north, trilling once more.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Aldeburgh Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Firstly congratulations to Robert Win for winning the Lounge Lizard Cup for 2011/12 for finding the most popular rare bird in Lowestoft during that time, the Hume's Leaf Warbler, was a really great find and just reward for the many hours he spends out in the field. A tweet came through late last night first from Lee Evans and then Rarevine stating amazingly that a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll had been showing very well that day on the beach opposite the Yacht club. The finder had discovered it at 12.30pm and amazingly thought it was a Lapland Bunting!! Ironic that both of Suffolk's rarest birds this year (this and the Spanish Sparrow) had been completely misidentified, initially. I was up at the crack of dawn and as soon as the first message came through that it was still there, I leapt into the car and drove down to Aldeburgh. I parked at Slaughden Quay by the yacht club, but when I got to the beach, a group of around 40 birders were already tightly packed in a semi- circle with an array of assembled telescopes and cameras with large lenses attached. They were looking directly around the edge of the beach wall much nearer Aldeburgh town, 150 yards away. I joined them and seeing Jon E, I first saw the excellent Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll, (HAR) hopping around the ground behind some weeds, where it was busy feeding on seeds. Carl B, Ali R, and later Dick W, OFB, Andrew E, Paul & Jane F arrived. The bird then crept up into full view perched on one of the stems, feeding. A superb bird with buff white upperparts with irridescant red (particularly stunning when the sun lit the crown) at the front third of the crown near the yellow bill, with blackish lores and black tiny bib, it also had a warm cinnamon buff colour on the face and pale buff upper breast with white flanks and underparts. It seemed to me a larger bird than Coue's Arctic Redpoll with a bigger yellow bill (ie. without the Coue's distinctive pushed in bill appearance, I also find the Coue's is a more rounded fluff ball of a bird on occasions) Something you couldn't say about the HAR, that being more bull- necked appearance. It fanned its tail on one occasion, which I managed to get a shot of, right at the end of a memory card with 774 shots before it, so don't expect that image to appear soon! The Arctic Redpoll also a pure white rump of an inch half square white with just 1 greyish smudge marks on the outer perimeter. The underparts, were white or an off white with a couple of dark streaks on the upper breast flanks only. It fed quite a while here before flying south some 300 yards, flying to some weeds again near the wall. It fed here again and then flew 100 yards again. James B, Robert Wil and Robert Win & Paul W arrived the bird had disappeared but a swift gathering further down the beach opposite the Yacht club revealed it had been spotted again. I went back to the car to fit the 1.4X converter and rejoined the throng this time looking at the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll feeding on a greener weed which may have been Yellow horned Poppy. The redpoll was ridiculously confiding at times particularly when it hopped closer and closer being barely 3 feet away before it flew south past us and a walking OFB, disappearing by some weeds behind a bin. Later on, it was feeding at the back of a weed and then hopped out to the eastern front edge feeding and then hopping towards us and being joined by Lee E, it hopped even closer being extremely confiding being just 2 feet away from us and far too close for my camera or even binoculars for that matter. (Naked eye birding like the Firecrest yesterday!) It then suddenly took to flight and flew towards the sea edge before continuing to fly a little way north. This must be one of my top 4 most enjoyable Suffolk sightings of this year (Alpine Swift first & Lesser Emperor Dragonfly second- both self finds on the local patch, the twitched Spanish Sparrow third after finally nailing it on the third attempt and 4th this bird). A call in at Minsmere failed to see anything of interest in the North bushes but I did purchase the 2011 Suffolk Bird report newly on sale there and was delighted to see both my Diver pictures inside and to see both the Great Grey Shrike & 2008 Ross' Goose records attributed to me (I didn't find either of these but may have been the only person to report them to the recorders?) Looking for Swans at the layby just south of Blythburgh along the busy A12 the field to the east had some 40 Fieldfare on it and I was delighted to find a further 6 Waxwings seen first on the tree opposite the layby and then they flew to the berry bushes by the layby bordering the road, often trilling. They fed off the berries but often out of sight and were obscured by branches and twigs. A Fieldfare flew out of these bushes and across the road, as did a Redwing. I was reluctant to try and photograph these Waxwings as I realised I might inadvertently flush them and didn't want them flying low over this busy A12 road on my account so I promptly left. Travelling along the entrance road to Fritton woods, I followed a low swooping brown- backed female Sparrowhawk who flew 30 yards down the road ahead of me then veered off right into the wood. A look at Haddiscoe island from the bung at Fritton woods, was very disappointing, the windy conditiuons didn't help, a Chinese Water Deer seen, lots of "brown Geese" (and no White ones) along the far side but in the high winds I could only guess that they were Pink- feet. 1 Little Egret flew over here. Back by the car walking in a sunlit sheltered spot in the woods revealed 4 Goldcrest and 8 LT Tits.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

2012 Firecrest at last!

After a humdinger of a migraine last night when travelling in the evening I had to swiftly turn back after I had the aura appear and I had go home and straight to bed. I eventually surfaced today, Saturday 8th December, early afternoon with a head that felt it had gone 2 rounds with Mike Tyson. At 1pm, the weather was sunny and I entered Warren House Wood and in the northern side were a flock of Long- tailed Tits plus a Treecreeper and 2 Goldcrests. In the western section were more Long- tailed Tits and a Goldcrest. As I was walking south on the western most path, a male Muntjac Deer crossed onto the path ahead of me and looked back at me, curious no doubt to this human intruder! In the south east section, another (or same) group of Long- tailed Tits plus Goldcrest and then suddenly the excellent Firecrest, a belated first for 2012, appeared right in front of me and barely 3 feet away too, it promptly flicked to another branch then flew past me and into the wood and out of sight. At Links road car park, around 60 Black- headed Gulls here, little else and at Ness Point 3 Purple Sandpipers were seen on the rocks in front of the compass. At Hamilton Dock in the north east corner, a Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Turnstone were seen briefly. At Lowestoft Asda late afternoon, whilst shopping I spied a flock of 30 Starlings flying east joined a larger flock of c1200 Starlings flying around the Lowestoft harbour. Also early Friday 7th December morning, Common Gull seen out the front perched on a neighbours roof. Snow then fell and they was around a covering of an inch of snow, Plus 3 Long- tailed Tits seen in front garden!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Lapwing & Starling flocks

On Monday 3rd December, c70 Lapwing flew west over the A12 just past Hopton Farm on the commute to work, early morning. Several flocks of Starling, c80 and c50 seen flying around the trees west of Great Yarmouth Library much later during the same day.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Wangford Waxwings

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Waking up this morning to a thin covering of snow and ice, I decided to have a look at my very local patch of Fallowfields in the hope of seeing a Woodcock. Having traipsed round for half an hour having heard 2 Bullfinches only, I walked into the middle of the area and immediately a Woodcock flew up from an area of bushes at around 9am and headed south- west towards Parkhill Hotel grounds. I then drove over to Wangford Playing field following a BINS message, always a happy hunting ground for me, I remember the Waxwings here in exactly the same place in December 2008. As I drove past, I could see and hear 42 Waxwings perched on the bushes bordering the northern edge of the field. Walking onto the field, I observed them perched around the top of the bushes before they all flew down to the north- west corner of the field. They flew down to a bush covered with a few berries. Later on they flew back to the bushes bordering the northern edge of the field, before several of their number flew across the road and started to alight and feed upon a berry laden bush in the middle of a garden (apparently owned by a 95 year old lady), where I had seen them before in Dec 2008. On their first visit to the garden, I witnesses one bird that had a colossal crest that looked like a Miter or an Archbishops's/ Bishop's hat! It spent most of its time on the edge of the bush. You can judge for yourself by looking at the picture above. The light was perfect (for once) and I finally managed to obtain the shots I wanted of this species this winter. I stood behind a bush on the path just outside and managed to get some really nice shots. The birds coming across too and fro with no more than 15 birds on the bush at any one time. Unfortunately after quarter of an hour, the neighbours of this lady, a father and 2 young children walked out flushed the Waxwings from the berry laden bush and onto the North bushes before walking across the road directly below them again, the children shouting, which unsurprisingly, totally spooked the whole flock of Waxwings. At 10.45am, the startled birds flew way up high and north east over the roofs of the houses. half an hour later, 17 of the flock returned and initially perched in a tall tree just east of the church, where joined by Dick W, eventually they flew to the north- west corner of the field and fed briefly from the scantily covered berry bush before perching up in bushes. at 11am they suddenly for no reason flew south- east. At 11.15am, Dick did really well to spot a Jack Snipe fly east and then south when I managed to see it.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

RIP Blackcap

Sadly, today, at 11.30am this morning I found a freshly dead male Blackcap who was found on the pavement in front of Great Yarmouth Library.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Waxwings along the A12

I was absolutely delighted today to find at around 8.40am, 4 Waxwings which were first seen as I was driving north along the A12. They were perched up on some tall bushes on south side of the Rackham's Corner roundabout, just north of Barn Owl Lodge, on the busy A12 dual carraigeway. They were initially seen as I was driving along the A12 approaching the roundabout, I saw 4 birds perched up in a bush looking very much like Waxwings! I parked the car briefly along the layby just north of there and walked back along the pavement. I saw them briefly feeding on the berries on the mid southern section, whilst 1 Waxwing was perched high up in a tall bush along the mid northern section of the roundabout. They were suddenly spooked and flew right over my head trilling as they went, always great to hear them calling. A few minutes later they flew back and settled on a bush on the east side of the road next to the roundabout. It was now 8.50am, it started raining heavily and I had to leave for work.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Diver down

Arriving at Hamilton Dock this morning, I heard a splash in front of me, but I couldn't see what it was, as I would have been looking directly into the bright sunlight. Some other birders wandered over saying it was a good thing it had surfaced and shown well. I didn't know what they were talking about, until I wandered away a bit and looked back and saw a sadly oiled Red- throated Diver sitting on the bank barely 15 feet away. It unfortunately some oil around the base of the bill and quite a lot on the belly, too. No doubt, either a victim of the nonsensical oil transfer policy which is conducted off the coast just out of sight of land, or the oil tankers illegally washing their tanks out at sea. The diver looked in a bad way, especially when it rested its head on some rope. But after a while, it appeared to rally and shuffled around looking quite alert. At such close quarters the red eye and upturned bill could be seen clearly. Chris M and later Dale (who I haven't seen for a long while), arrived, with Chris stating he'd seen an interesting warbler in the Arnold's walk, Whilst I was walking through (from Arnold's walk) to the Sparrows Nest in a sunlit tree in front of us and to the left, a Willow Warbler perched out in the open for a few seconds and continued to feed well around the trees and foliage, always on the move. Andrew E, Rob Wil's & Win, Paul & Jane F were also present. A later walk through the long grass of the Denes flushed a Snipe, Song Thrush and 4 Greenfinch. Whilst on the groynes, an adult Kittiwake seen and 3 flying north. Plus a large flock of c50 female Common Scoter also flew north.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Peregrine Over

A Peregrine Falcon flew west in the mist over WHSmith's today (Saturday 17th November), over Lowestoft London Rd North, where it briefly harried a Feral Pigeon right over the store at 11.10am.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Wild Goose Chase

A day off work today and first stop Oulton Broad in the bright November sunshine the 135 strong Greylag Goose flock was quickly sighted on the Broad by the Maltings, included the Greater White- fronted Goose, it spent most of its time on the margins of the flock, usually at the back. I could see why, when one Greylag Goose in particular pecked at it's hind quarters on several occasions, being 30% bigger the Greylags should pick on Geese more their own size! I suppose they were saying that the WF Goose wasn't one of their number. I could see Jane F watching from the jetty by the maltings. As I watched the Geese, I saw up to 4 Great- crested Grebe, including one reasonably close individual. An Egyptian Goose stood in the water just a few feet to my left. A canoe, drove the Geese over my side and I got reasonable shots. With car park time running out and someone asking me about a flock of 6 colourful starling sized birds coming into his garden at Maidstone road, had us driving over to Maidstone road area, obviously W
axwings. No such luck though. A pleasant stroll down to Fritton woods and past a new large clearing just before the mound, we saw up to 4 Short- eared Owls hunting the distant fields with one seen perched in a field. Up to 3 female Marsh Harriers patrolling the area and 1 Barn Owl flying reasonably close to by the reeds. 4 Egyptian Geese flew by and a Chinese Water Deer was seen in the field. Around 200 Pink- footed Geese seen at the back of Haddiscoe island, were all checked when they flew up definately no white Ross' Goose seen. Meanwhile, in the conifers we saw a Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and LT Tits and we heard both Siskin and the rattle of a Redpoll flying over. Back at Oulton Broad by Pets corner Jetty, Jane F found the Wood Duck and a stroll to the boulevard, first of all seeing 6 Goldfinches ina tree above us. We then sighted the flock of 155 Greylags on the Broad near the pleasure boat jetty and walking out along the Fishermen's jetty, I was able to get some good shots of the Greater White- fronted Goose especially as it swam around the front of the flock only swimming away when a boat came to more up by the jetty.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Redwing arrivals

There were lots of Redwings heard calling overhead and flying westwards inland this evening at both Gunton (9pm) and Parkhill (9.30pm).

Monday, 12 November 2012

Blackcap First & Kamikaze Owl!

A lovely chestnut-capped female Blackcap, a long overdue, but very welcome first record for the garden, was sitting out in full view on the edge of the middle of our Copper Beech tree (still covered with maroon foliage) at the back fence this morning at 7.45am, for around at least 3 minutes, sadly just eluded the camera. In the evening picking up Jenny from Norwich airport and travelling back to Lowestoft past Hales on the Haddiscoe road just before Hillside farm at around 9.45pm, I spotted a Barn Owl perched on some farm machinery to the left of the road and it suddenly flew kamikaze like towards the car, I had to break sharply to avoid hitting it and it flew right past the windscreen safely, but only just!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Richard's Pipit & Whitefront

At around 9am this morning, it was a lovely sunny morning, I, belatedly made my way over to Covehithe (having resisted the urge to go on a dull and rainy Saturday, yesterday) and walking along the cliff-top fields south-east of the church, I saw a small group of birders looking up the cliff top path around 2 fields south of the track. They were looking directly north along the cliff- top path and I and some Essex birders, stopped at the top of the field looking down. It was in exactly the same area, where I had seen my last one in Suffolk, 2 years ago. Immediately, we saw the excellent Richard's Pipit pop out at the edge of the field of green-shoots (not sure what the crop was?) before almost immediately darting into long grass and weeds by appropriately enough given the day, 2 very red flowering Poppies. We had to wait around 3/4 of an hour before we had good views on the cliff top path, where it gradually made its way towards us. It showed on and off for the next hour, giving good scope views. I also heard a Snow Bunting which appeared to be flying north over the sea, although I couldn't spot it. A Common Darter flew in off the sea and flew steadily inland. A group of around 45 Barnacle Geese flew over and north. While behind the southern group of birders a late Swallow flew west and over Covehithe broad. The Pipit then flew out into the field and perched up for a couple of minutes before flying back and occasionally showing along the path again. It was good to see everyone hanging back, allowing the bird space to feed. Back at the Church seeing Dick and Clive, we scanned the field, for winter finches and Sparrows of the arboreal variety, but we only saw a group of 25 flying Skylarks, 2 Reed Bunting and a Chaffinch. Small group of Starlings, 100, 30 and 45 flew in off the sea. A stop off at Asda, revealed many c80 BH Gulls on the very low water, so low a Redshank flew in tried to land, it ended up swimming for 2 minutes before getting fed up with that it flew west. An adult Shag flew west. Late afternoon, in fading light, I drove to Oulton Broad, following tweets from Rob Wil and Rene B, looking across towards the maltings were 145 Grelag geese and bang in the middle and swimming just in front of them was the smaller White- fronted Goose, always nice to see. A smaller goose, being around 20% smaller, with pink bill and white surround by the base. The new scope was really excellent in the fading light and I could clearly see the bird. It then swam into the pack of geese and I left in the fading light. Paul & Jane F were turning into the car park and told them to follow me back to save time, we also saw Rene B briefly (and having thanked him for his tweet) and we were soon watching the bird again.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Goldeneye

A male Goldeneye was seen at the back of Rollesby Broad as viewed from the A149 road on Tuesday 6 November, early morning. Solitary Sandpiper shot added to Soggy Scilly post, Blackpoll Warbler pics have been added to the "Arrival of the Americans days 3 & 4" Oct 2012 Scilly post. Also Wryneck details and picture notes added to "Soggy Scilly days 1 & 2" post (Oct 2012).

Monday, 5 November 2012

Waxwings!

After a weekend fruitlessly trying to twitch Waxwings firstly at Thurston street, Lowestoft (Saturday) and then Pasteur road retail park, Great Yarmouth by Perenco (Sunday) without any luck. I had to return some equipment to Great Yarmouth Library on Monday 5th November and at lunchtime, having to fill up with fuel, I had briefly called in at Asda to fill up. Passing the new Breydon bridge on the way back at around 11.30am, travelling along the Yarmouth bypass road, just 50 metres from the Gapton Hall retail park roundabout, I noted 5 excellent Waxwings perched on the tree on the east side of the road, driving around the roundabout and pulling into the layby by Gapton Hall retail park, I parked the car just before Black Gate farm and decided to take my lunchbreak. The 5 Waxwings were still perched in the tree and I was able view them from a gap in the bushes. However, they soon flew off and when I drove back, seeing Keith D, I returned to the layby, where Keith D had walked there before me, when I heard the distinctive trilling call of a Waxwing. I looked west across the fence and there were now 6 Waxwings perched on a bush on the "farm area" behind metal fences. Two of their number then east flew over our heads and perched on some berry bushes right in front of us (but the light was very poor here) before a lorry driving past flushed them back to their bush. Another 3 Waxwings, that Keith spotted flew overhead and directly west again right over our heads, so 9 Waxwings seen in total, today.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A few Ness Point goodies

On Saturday 3rd November, I arrived at Ness Point at 9am in the morning and saw some birders scoping 2 Purple Sandpipers by the defence rocks just left of the finger. A further 2 Purple Sandpipers were then seen on the top of the large boulders amongst a group of 5 Turnstone behind the ledge just right of the compass, so 4 Purple Sandpipers in total. On checking the tamarisk bushes, I could see no initial sign of the LW, until I spied some birders gathering by the Tamarisks by the seawall near the southern walk entrance to said wall. A bird flew back into the Tamarisks bordering Birds Eye and eventually it was seen deep in the bushes in particular skulking around the barer branchy bit of the bush, showing on occasions briefly, it was the fine Lesser Whitethroat, looking typically like a normal one. Grey above, white below and browner (earth brown) back. It then flew right, started "takking" and then showed briefly on two further occasions, once out in the open for around 10 seconds! Some birders walked south along the Point and I saw Jeremy G, who was keen to get further views of the bird. Unfortunately, the bird was becoming more difficult to see or even locate, I had only had one further glimpse. It appears to favour the Tamarisk opposite the southern entrance walkway to the seawall and up to the staff entrance gate for Birds Eye. By now I had given up all thoughts of trying to photograph it, perhaps my last chance this year for this species? I met the birders on their return walk from the old Coastguards and they pointed out they had just seen a confiding Snowie by the aerial. A good find. I drove straight round and found Danny P and his 2 children, plus Barry W digiscoping the excellent Snow Bunting. It was feeding between the cracks of the pavement on the raised path at the most southerly tip of the point bordering SLP and next to the cabin there. It flew up the SLP wall and I was just about to photograph it, when a dog walker walked up the wooden steps and flushed it, it flew north. I thought that was it, until Danny P had it feeding around the weedy margins of the concrete floor slabs by the aerial. Another passer-by flushed it back to its original area. A few minutes later it was flushed again by a walker going up the steps and it returned to the area by the aerial. With the others, I tried to get some pics, but wasn't very happy with the results, until it did some wing stretching. When all the others had left I stayed, the sun came out and the bird showed particularly well down to 10 feet right in front of my car and feeding along the weedy perimeter of the blue western most fence. It was nice just to watch it without it being disturbed by anyone. Then some teenagers arrived on bikes and started messing about by the aerial, flushing the Snow Bunting onto the wall just left of the wooden steps, Andrew G then arrived and I pointed the Bunting out to him before I left.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ness Point & Southwold

I started at Oulton Broad hoping to get some pics in the sun of the Slav Grebe, sadly I didn't see it. Looking in at Hamilton Dock, 1 Guillemot was seen. Joining Tony B at Ness Point, we saw 3 Redshank fly south and a Little Auk flew north at 9.15am and pitched onto the sea briefly before flying north again. A Red- throated Diver was seen fairly close in on the sea. 2 Purple Sandpiper popped up on the defence rocks amongst the Turnstone. Blackbirds were arriving in off the sea during the morning in ones and twos and around 30 were seen coming in off. 4 Fieldfare flew in off and over Hamilton Dock.Whilst checking the Tamarisk bushes, we saw a male Blackcap briefly and a Chiff- Chaff. This afternoon I driving to Southwold, I had a brief diversion at Oulton Broad Mutford Lock bridge Pontoon, where 1 immature Shag was seen. Finally reaching Ferry road In Southwold driving down to the harbour on the east end, I reached the rectangular pool, by the side of the road, parked at the nearby car park and saw the excellent female Common Scoter asleep over the far side. She woke up, preened and swam tentatively around the reed stems in the corner initially, but then she became bolder and swam around right in the middle on the water, occasionally accompanied by a Little Grebe, which she chased off on one occasion when the Dabchick got too close! She dived frequently, sometimes rearing up in the water and showed very well in the middle of the pool even swimming right towards me on occasions and showing down to 3 feet at times, finally she swam back to the corner got onto the bank and went to sleep again!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Scilly blog updated!

I have now finished the text Scilly blog. I have finished the blog for days 1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7 & 8. Pictures to be added soon!

Long- tailed Duck & Little Auks off Ness Point

With a strong north- easterly blowing and frequent squally showers and hail storms the only place to be was Ness Point! Arriving at Ness Point this morning, by the former Coastguard lookout, I could see James B looking from within his car sheltered from the elements and the more intrepid Paul & Jane were presumably the other side of the Lookout as I could see their car parked there too. As it was raining/ hailing steadily, I elected, like James, to stay in the car and had 2 single Knot fly by plus a female Common Scoter and a single male Eider, all flying north. A flock of 15 Wigeon flew past north over the horizon, With the sun coming out, I joined Paul & Jane & Andrew E to the east of the lookout first we had a pair of Scaup flying north. We also saw impressive single sex flocks of 10 and then 12 male Eiders flying north, later a flock of 16 birds included 4 females. Another flock of 16 Wigeon and some Teal flying past north incredibly included a superb Long- tailed Duck (my first for many years), certainly the first one I have seen this century. We also had 2 small groups of Knot, 8 & 12 also flying north. Andrew E, did really well to spot it trying to hide within the middle of the flock of Wigeon. These days this bird is rarer in Lowestoft than RF Bluetails or OBP's! A Harbour Porpoise was seen briefly too. We were still celebrating when shortly afterwards, Andrew shouted "Little Auk!" and sure enough, an excellent Little Auk was flying north a third of the way out. We were all there, fervently hoping we would get some Little Auks, with the first strong northerly blow of the late autumn. Ten minutes later, Paul got our total of Little Auks into the plural, when got onto another Little Auk which was about half way out also flying north. We also saw a Snow Bunting flying north low over the sea about half way out. Plus 21 Starlings flew south and west over the sea. With the sun out, I raced to Oulton Broad and sure enough the Slavonian Grebe was still near the Wherry end, but the light was still not right, sadly.

Quiet afternoon

Friday 26th I had the afternoon off as I was giving a Library talk in the afternoon. At Corton, I flushed a silent Pipit up to the OBP hedge, where it perched, but sadly this bird was a Meadow Pipit and not the OBP, 3 Meadow Pipits seen in total, little else. The Slavonian Grebe was seen on Oulton Broad near the Wherry this time in strong sunlight only problem was, I was looking straight into it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Corton Olive- backed Pipit

Having missed the OBP yesterday, (brilliantly found by James B), as I was working at Norwich, only driving past Corton at 6.10pm in the pitch darkness, I parked at the Corton church west car park at 7.35pm this morning. Conditions were misty and spitting with rain. I walked through to the field just north of the Church and this was bordered on the south and east by a large Sallow hedgerow. By the edge of the field was long grass and several tall weeds. Also here were about 10 birders including Ricky F, Phil H, Jeremy G, Rene B, and several others. Ricky had seen an interesting Pipit fly up from the long grass into the east hedge it remained silent in flight, intriguing! A co-ordinated walk through the long grass, first flushed a calling Meadow Pipit, and then the silent Pipit with an interesting looking dark back flew up to the east hedge. Rene did well to spot it perched just 2 feet off the ground, behind a large silvery leaved bush. I got my bins on it and instantly called it as "It's the Olive- backed!" It was of course the superb Olive- backed Pipit. I could see the striking cream supercilia, bordered above by the distinctive dark lateral crown stripe. The cream supercilia showed the characteristic supercilium drop at the rear of the ear coverts with the dark spot just underneath this. The back was a reassuring olive- green colouration. It then flew to the ground and walked on the ground before flying up and being seen breast on. It had a heavily streaked dark markings on the white and cream upper breast. I also noticed it pumping its tail another distinctive action of this species. It then flew down again and could not be seen. Regrettably, the time had now reached 8.35pm and I had to leave for work! Sadly no pictures of the bird due to the misty and wet conditions. After work, I drove to Warren Road, Gorleston in search of the RBF at the Anglian Water compound but I couldn't find the compound and the light was deteriorating fast. I tweeted for help and phoned James B and thanks to him and Andrew E for telling me that in my haste I had gone right past it. For the record, it is where the tarmacked road in the dip meets the sandy track in a dip where the houses end, the compound being on the west side of the road. The area had tall Sycamores meeting in the middle the crown of these touching in the middle. Problem was, I was over half way down the track towards Hopton Holiday Camp and had to rapidly retrace my steps. Unfortunately, the very poor light now hampered me & it failed to reveal either movement or the audible sound of the slight tacking call of this bird.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fogbound Migrants

A slightly foggy day latterly became a very foggy day, whilst searching through Sparrow's Nest, I failed to see the YBW despite 2 hours of searching through several flocks of Long- tailed Tits c180 seen and Goldcrests c140 seen. There were also several roving flocks of Redwings in both Sparrows Nest (around 30) and especially Belle Vue Park (around 60). Several Song Thrushes seen, around 10 around the parks in total. I met up with Rob Win and Don & Gwen were seen in the distance too. Walking along the Denes, the fog was increasing and becoming more dense, more Redwings, c70 seen on the ground and flying overhead calling, too. The chacking of a Fieldfare saw 1 flying up to the top of a tree, whilst 7 Redwings were in the wind break bushes here, plus several 3 Robins too.At Warren House Wood, around 50 Redwings seen. At the small copse, just north of here, 4 Jays seen plus 6 more Redwing and 2 Fieldfare. By Gunton Beach Dunes another 12 Redwing seen plus 4 Fieldfare and a female Stonechat perched on the bushes here. Walking back along the beach around 30 Redwing and 3 Fieldfare flew overhead in off the sea, viz mig in action! By the sea wall, by Marram grass, a movement caught my eye and revealed a lone Chiff- Chaff which was feeding on insects by a plant, before a dog flushed it and the bird flew back along the beach. On the Oval, 4 Fieldfare were seen on the field close to the east wall, as I was watching them, 2 Redwing calls were heard directly overhead, they were perched in the pine tree that I was standing next to. I intended walking back to the car but seeing Neville S, he was watching the trees lining the east of the Sparrows Nest car park, I joined him and around 30 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare seen here, whilst on the Ting Dene static fenced caravan park, now a building site, we initially saw 6 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, all feeding on the grassy area near the fence barely 40 feet away. Whilst we were looking at these we saw an excellent 1st winter female Ring Ouzel, we got on it at the same time, it was a dull bird with just a hint of silvery wings and a very pale breast band. I was looking at it, thinking it was a female Ring Ouzel when Neville said "it's a Ring Ouzel!" Walking south of here by the corner path, a Redwing, a Song Thrush and a female Blackbird seen by a puddle just 20 feet away. walking along the Netposts area, a further 6 Fieldfare seen on the ground and 3 Redwing all just 20 feet away! By the weedy area, another Robin seen here too. Rechecking Sparrows nest, 7 Redwings flew west over the Bowling Green. Whilst in Belle Vue Park by the memorial ground, I heard the rasping of a Brambling and saw a male Brambling in a beech tree together with 3 Chaffinches. An incredible day with 250 Redwings, 28 Fieldfares, 15 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds, and 1 female Ring Ouzel seen. A great day for Thrushes, I subsequently heard they'd been bigger falls elsewhere including at Corton.

Schizophrenic Grebe!

Sunday 21st October didn't start to well, a bit like my car which had a flat battery. Early on I visited Oulton Broad, around the Wherry hotel where the Slavonian Grebe showed very well just down from the Wherry car park showing down to 2 feet on several occasions! Unfortunately the sky was dark and it was starting to rain steadily! It dived regularly frequently catching several small fish. Having a look at the bird, it seemed obvious to me, whichever side I looked at it that it was a Slavonian Grebe, although I have heard when it had been first found, it had been initially tricky to ID because initially it had been mistaken for a Black- necked Grebe. Later on during the day, I visited a rain soaked Corton and pounding the MOD stubble field, together with 3 other birders we eventually saw a calling single Lapland Bunting fly up in the company of several Sky Larks. A Snipe was also seen in flight. Around 60 Sky Larks seen in total, Brambling also heard here too. Travelling back along the A12 by Barn owl Lodge, a dead Fieldfare was seen at the side of the road, too.

Last Days on Scilly 2012: Days 7 & 8

The last couple of days, included on day 7, Friday 19th October, the Red- breasted Flycatcher was in the same spot near the Dump clump woods in the tall trees at the back of the former Pumpkin field. A walk back along the lane of Oldtown Churchyard, briefly revealed a confiding Redwing on a bush, which only flew when I stooped down to retrieve the camera. On Tresco, a Herring Gull sat and posed on the picturesque rock! Looking across the Great Pool from the plush Swarovski hide, revealed the 6 Whooper Swans, mostly asleep on the far side of the water by another fence. 2 Mute Swans were with them and from time to time the Swans would wake up and swim left for a while. many c120 Gadwall, 2 Teal and 1 Redshank were seen on the Pool near the Abbey. Goldcrest seen and Brambling heard only. Just down from the Abbey there along the lane we saw and heard 2 Yellow- browed Warblers, one posed nicely on an exposed perch for around 20 seconds. Walking back along the road, 100 yards past the Abbey, by an area of Rhodadendron bushes, I spied a gorgeous male Golden Pheasant on the track ahead and it was running towards us! A fantastic riot of colour of red, yellow and gold, it looked like a pet fit for a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt especially as it sported a yellow head dress not dissimilar to the ones for kings of Egypt wore! It kept running towards us and right up to us looking for food, to say it was confiding was an understatement and Tim and I had to walk half way back up the road to take pictures and we took full advantage, albeit in very poor light. The bird took a particular liking to Roy's rolls. John wasn't happy the bird was this confiding but it is as wild as you get here, there is a small breeding population on Tresco around the Abbey woods and this bird has taken advantage of the possible feeding opportunities given up by the passing tourists. Another stunning male Golden Pheasant was seen further up the road and quickly darted into cover of the bushes on the right. Stunning birds which I always enjoyed seeing at Wayland Woods and when the Rhodedendrons were cut back there by the NWT it led to the demise of the Golden Pheasants there. Finally, male and female Stonechat seen on the walk up to the other quay. Saturday 20th October was our last day on scilly this year, i went to Lower Moors and seeing 3 Snipe and a Grey heron from ISBG hide, I went to Phyllis hide saw little and met John & Roy back at the ISBG, from the right, I spotted a Jack Snipe fly across and I called it as it landed on the left side of the lagoon, going into some reeds then running right and away into an area of thicker cover. Again, 2 Grey wagtails heard only as they flew over. On the boat trip back, little seen initially apart from 3 smart kittiwakes, but we encountered flocks of Gannets (30, 40, 120), we had a superb Balearic Shearwater fly along just off the starboard side of the ship banking showing its brown plumage above and smudgy white underparts as it flew right. later, a Gull was harried by 2 Bonxies and an Arctic Skua flew right just off the stern of the ship continuing to fly right. The best was saved to last in fading light I had just come back onto deck following a comfort stop, and saw people peering over the starboard side of the ship, I looked over and saw a super group of 20 Common Dolphin, diving and even breeching out of water right by the side, their white striped sides could be seen clearly at close range albeit in fading light. The Dolphins swam underneath the ship, a really spectacular site that elicited several whoops of joy from the ladies present and big grins on evryones face. Finally the Dolphins were seen behind the ship, a couple still breeching putting on a superlative display.

Aftermath of the Low: Scilly 2012; days 5 & 6

By day 5, Wednesday 17th October it was very windy, with a strong south- westerly wind blowing and we were hopeful for more American arrivals following the RND's. From Morning Point battery, we saw several c30 Gannet fly past and on the Battery grass itself, a Snow Bunting fed amongst the grass, but in the high winds it was very flighty, first feeding by the gun and then flying to the edge of the cliff before flying down and out of sight. Walking up to Porthellick Pool, from the seaward side hide, we could see Mallard and Gadwall and the 3 Ring- necked Duck were swimming right in the middle before swimming over to the back. They swam towards us and then left, right across the hide giving good views. Porthellick Bay produced 7 Ringed Plover but little else. At Longstone, we saw a Swallow and a mystery Martin flying overhead, the Martin was dark above and completely white below but no white rump but it flew off and its ID will remaain a mystery, sadly. Overlooking the Pine trees at Kittydown, I heard the deep croak of a Raven, and the bird flew up from the trees briefly then flew down again and out of sight. Walking back along Telegraph road, 2 Grey Wagtails were seen routing about in a ploughed but weedy field. Often seen running and feeding up and down the furrows, I stayed a while to take a few pics. We chased down to Porthellick Beach to view on the far side of the beach, a fine Pale- bellied Brent Goose, amongst the rocks close to the shore line. By Thursday 18th October, nipping down to Porthcressa beach again, by the large rock, 2 Rock Pipits seen and swimming out on the sea was the Pale- bellied Brent Goose It swam close and left and was briefly joined by an immature Shag before the Goose eventually got out of the water and onto the beach, walking up. I was joined by pro photographer Steve Young and eventually Tim H joined me and we got some great shots of this very confiding bird, I had step back it was that close! At Porthmelon beach, 3 Rock Pipit and 3 Pied Wagtail seen posing quite well for the camera. back at the Dump Clump woods, in exactly the same spot where the Spotted had been seen days earlier, a Red- breasted Flycatchers showed quite well hunting for insects. The Hume's warbler was heard caalling its distinctive "chee- wee" call several times. Unfortunately I had to leave it to catch the 10.15 boat to one of our favourite islaands, St. Agnes. Walking down to the beach area just past the Great Pool, a Richard's Pipit showed amongst the grass and rocks in the middle distance. 2 Wheatear seen at the tip here too. At the Parsonage, by the road opposite the school, a Pied Flycatcher showed exceptionally well favouring various branches for its hunting excursions, at time it was barely 10 feet from us. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen here briefly too, plus a Coal Tit hunting for insects amongst the ivy wrapped around the tree trunk. A while later the "Tseeeeopp" call heralded a Yellow- browed Warbler flying in the top of the trees right in front of us and I was pleased with get some shots in as it momentarily perched on a branch for a minute or two. 2 Chiff- Chaff, Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail flying overhead was heard on 3 occasions.

Arrival of the Americans: Scilly 2012, days 3 & 4

On Scilly today, Monday 15th October, we went back to Bryher, in the hope of seeing the elusive Blackpoll. Back at Veronica's farm, after spending ann hour and a half staring at where the Blackpoll had been, we saw a Robin, Chiff- Chaff, a male Blackcap and a female Sparrowhawk flying over. We also heard Coal Tit calls, and moving right 50 yards we saw first one then 2 excellent Irish Coal Tits, perch in the isolated bush in the clearing then fly to the Pines to the right where we had seen one before. A shout went up that the Blackpoll had been seeen slong bushes to the track to tquay barely 500 yards away. We arrived and a group of 40 people awaited the Blackpoll, that didn't disappoint as it worked its well to the top of the bush and showed briefly, a superb Blackpoll Warbler, Tim and I then went round the back to get some shots but this was a mistake and we went back to the track, specifically the corner where the Blackpoll was making its way towards and it showed well on occasions in a large bush here before it flew someway left. 2 female Sparrowhawk flew over our heads, whilst from the quay we saw a hybrid Hooded Crow, initially it looked good as it fed on a sandy island in the bay, but when it flew it showed black and not light grey undertail coverts, a crucial feature needed for a pure Hoodie. On the journey back on the boat, I saw 2 Grey Plover on an island, on Green island, amongst the middle of the Gulls, I could clearly see a Spoonbill and shouted it out and most people got onto it, fortunately. On the far left of this island, amongst 15 Curlew on the extreme right was a Whimbrel and groups of 5 and 15 Sanderling. Finally on the sea, an impressive feeding flock of 27 Shag were seen. On Tuesday 16th October, a quick look on the garrison end of Porthcressa beach revealed the usual Rock Pipits and very black looking Pied Wagtail. I then wandered along to the Dump Clump woods, where a gathering of people eventually revealed a very close Hume's Leaf Warbler, calling a distinct and ID clinching "chee- wee" call and looking very similar to a YBW completely lacking the grey and mucky tones we usually associate with this bird back home. It popped out of the ivy and in the foliage of the tree directly in front of us giving brief neck breaking views at times. A walk around Old town churchyard revealed little, with Oldtown Bay revealing Greenshank, 3 Oystercatcher and a heard only Oystercatcher. The usual very tame Song Thrush, Blackbird and House Sparrows posed a little too well for the camera, too close. This must be the best spot in Britain to photo Song Thrush. Albeit you'll only need a 100mm lens! No sooner had we left there than we returned to watch from the churchyard looking over the trees lining the lane, a Red- breasted Flycatcher that eluded us earlier. The bird flitted about and posed quite well on occasion for the gathering crowd. Back at the Dump Clump woods, the Hume's Leaf Warbler showed briefly again in the same area, but this time it was calling its chee-wee call more frequently. By the very tall trees aat the back of the ex- Pumpkin field nearby, a Spotted Flycatcher showed well on occasion in the trees here. Hearing on the CB that the Solitary Sandpiperwas seen in a field off the road leading out of Old Town towards the Airport, by an Artists studio. I went along and saw the bird walking around a distant puddle, together with 2 Grey Wagtails. Opposite the entrance to the Airport in scrub here, I heard a Yellow- browed Warbler call several times but it eluded me. At Peninnis, it was very quite with Stonechat and Greenfinch, the only birds seen. The Garrison was also quiet and just 2 Meadow Pipits and another Stonechat seen. Again on the CB, we heard 3 RND's were on the sea just off Porth Melon Beach and we rushed down to the Pottery to see if we could view that section of the bay and sure enough, we could we see, very distantly, but with the 50X turned up on our scope, we could ID them as 3 Ring- necked Ducks (1 immature male and 2 females). They initially sat and bobbed up and down the sea swimming towards the beach there and then they flew over Hughtown and appeared to drop down onto Lower Moors. We dashed down there hopeful of some excellent photography, if we could get into the hide, no sooner had we stepped on the boardwalk, merely 50 metres from the hide, than the 3 Ring- necked Ducks flew very close directly overhead and appeared to fly north.

Soggy Scilly: Scilly 2012 days 1 & 2

A crack team of birders, John H, Tim H, Roy H and also myself visited the Isles of Scilly this October in search of rare birds and good photography. Happily we achieved both, but both John & failed to add any new birds to o
ur life or UK lists. On Saturday 13th October, the boat trip on the Scillonian 3 was relatively uneventful with 25 Guillemots, in one's, two's or three's 3 Razorbills, a Red- throated Diver, many Gannets and 7 Kittiwakes (2,3 & 2) seen. At Hughtown, our accommodation was the upstairs flat "All Winds" the location was at Sally Port, just round the corner from the town centre, 2 minutes from Porthcressa beach and 3 minutes from the Garrison, perfect! A calling Grey Wagtail flew over Hughtown calling, as we boarded a boat for the Bryer, paying the hefty fee of £8.20 for the return trip! We walked straight to view a manure dump by a farm, close to Hell Bay hotel. On the heap were several brown hens, a Starling, a Dunnock and the object of our quest, a superb Solitary Sandpiper, feeding really well rather incongrously amongst the Hens, on the insects crawling around there! Only the second Solitary I have ever seen, our first was also the first bird seen on the trip on our initial trip to Scilly in 2000. Carrying onto Veronica Farm, no sign of the very elusive Blackpoll, but further along a shout went up and in a Pine tree was a superb Irish Coal Tit, distinctive in being a little larger than our Coal Tit with yellowish cheeks and yellowish wash on the breast and flanks. The Irish Coal Tit flitted around the top of the Pine and was even hanging upside down at one stage. On Sunday 14th October, a Grey Wagtail flying over Hugh Town again. In Old Town Bay, we saw Greenshank, Curlew, Oystercarcher and 3 Rock Pipit. At Giant's Castle, I saw 2 single Wheatears tussocky grassy turf near the edge. In Porthellick Bay, 2 Greenshank were seen. By a hill overlooking the leeward side of Porthellick Pool and the loop trail. We saw Tim who had secreted himself under a Pine in the hope of photographing the RCS. A female Sparrowhawk flew over and right over Tim's head. With that S'phawk gone it was the green light for the really strikingly pale immature Rose- coloured Starlingto appear.It, first flew right and dropped down into a bush, then flew left and back and settled on the line of bramble bushes showing really well our side, feeding on the berries, albeit at some distance but giving good views through the scope. Turning around and scanning the beach we could the grey looking American Golden Plover sitting on the beach by the stream of water coming out of an outflow pipe next to a rock. At Porthellick Pool, it was almost like spring, with a male Mallard with homicidal tendencies trying to drown and hold the head underwater of a potential rival, an unfortunate fellow male Mallard. Fortunately the other male escaped. The female Mallard looked distinctly unimpressed! At Higher Moors by the road between Porthellick/ Holy Vale trail we looked way across into the distance to some trees and saw a Scilly mega! Walking back we saw a Wryneck fly out to rocks by the beach, I scrambled onto rocks further back and saw the excellent Wryneck perched on the edge of a rock, eventually it flew onto a path and fed on the grassy banks either side sometimes dropping onto the path. Until a walker walked past and spitefully flushed the bird into a bush because the path was blocked by birders. From here it flew onto a stone wall right in front of me and I managed a few shots here. Before birders coming down the path flushed it over. It was a female Great- spotted woodpecker coming in and out of a hole. At Lower Moors, from ISBG hide, 3 Snipe, a Grey Heron and a sleepy Greenshank were seen. I raced up to the Garrison to the Pig field area , where in the far hedge, a fine male Ring Ouzel was seen perched on the bushes and eating blackberries. At Lower Broome Platform, 2 Goldcrest seen around the bushes finally a Kestrel seen flying over the accommodation.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Great Ness Point Seawatch

I had a really excellent 1 hour's seawatch today from Ness Point between 7.40 to 8.40am this morning. The wind was light with a north- easterly breeze and there was also a cloudy start to the day. Avian highlights were plentiful and included a superb Sooty Shearwater that flew north at 7.45am, its distinctive shape stood out, the dark brown plumage and hint of white on the underwing. A Manx Shearwater, showing much more extensive white on the underparts flew south at 8.30 am. A Bonxie or Great Skua spent a lot of the time on the sea only to occasionally fly up and settle on sea, once more. A dark phase Arctic Skua flew south. An incredible tally of 366 Gannets flew north within the hour's duration, half of their number were all dark juvs, many were adults too whilst just 28 flew south, c60 Auks also flew north, and included 1 Guillemot close in on the sea. Divers also flew north 110 north and 5 south,(mostly Red throated, otherwise they were too far out to tell), included 1 Red- throated Diver on the sea. 22 Common Scoter flew north (mostly in parties of 5 and 4), whilst 3 singles flew south, 24 Brent Geese flew north (mostly parties of 4 & 5), in addition 3 singles flew south.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

North Norfolk & Ness Point

Visiting North Norfolk specifically Cley Spy, to get a replacement telescope for my ageing Kowa TSN3 where the thread had now completely gone, OFB and I went onto Kelling Wet Meadows and we had great views of the immature Pectoral Sandpiper. It was at the back of meadow, initially asleep between a grassy "knoll" by the edge of the water. It then woke up and fed by the edge. The bird showed the distinct streaked brown breast sharply demarcated from the paler whitish underparts. It had distinctive rufus on the mantle indicating it was an immature bird and white distinct lines on the back and the usual small "Ruff- like" shape with long primaries. We walked around the side where we were a lot closer to the bird, but unfortunately almost looking directly into the sun, rendering photography useless. Back at Ness Point, just after 4.30pm, I met Rob Wil, Andrew E and Paul & Jane F. Almost immediately we saw a fine brown Great Skua or Bonxie flying north just below the horizon. A Grey Wagtail was heard and the others saw it fly in off the sea. Meanwhile out to sea, a total of 10 Gannets (6 adults and 4 juveniles) were going north, singles of adults and juveniles with singles seen on 4 occasions plus a pair (adult and juvenile) and 4 (3 adults and a juvenile). 4 Mediterranean Gulls flying north in a group included 3 adults and 1 2nd winter that settled on the sea. An adult Little Gull was seen to fly and settle on the sea, whilst late on a small flock of 4 adult Little Gulls flew north. Also a flock of 5 Common Scoter flew north (3 males and 2 females). 3 Red- throated Divers flew north, all singles the last one flew past only half way out, with its head stooped below the line of its body. Meanwhile a flock of 300 Starlings amassed by the Gas cylinder and then onto the Ness Point car park area.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Southern Hawker still there!

The female Southern Hawker Dragonfly was still there in the back garden this morning at 8.35am in exactly the same place, perched on the bush by the wildlife pond. She had gone by the time I arrived back from work at 5.20pm today.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Showy Southern Hawker

Whilst resting my foot in the lounge, I noticed a large Hawker Dragonfly flying around the garden and hobbling outside with some difficulty, I spotted the dragonfly nip into some bushes by the wildlife pond at 2.10pm, investigating I was delighted to find a female Southern Hawker Dragonfly perched on one of the lower stems just 3 foot of the ground just left of the wildlife pond. It obviously found this spot to it's liking as the Southern Hawker stayed here until dusk (6.30pm) at least. I managed to get some shots, albeit in a very restricted position (with a sore foot) and in very, very poor light. Seen right at the end of its flight period, I just hope she has been oviposting in the garden pond and there will future generations growing as larvae underneath the water? Whilst taking the pictures, I was forced to use ISO 1600, even with flash! I also noticed this Common Carder Bee showing well on the Runner Bean plant leaf. Thanks to Danny P for the ID!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Samos Day 7 & 8: Last Few Days

On Wednesday 26th September, back at the Honeypot site, 10 Swallows seen flying distantly over the mountain, plus a distant flying male Blue Rock Thrush flew onto a distant wire. By the side of the road by some short grass a Wall Lizard would run out and climb up a grass stem look at me and then run back into the grass. back at Potami Beach, we parked just past the Cafe del Mund and walking though the path way, I saw the 2 Stripe- necked Terrapins on their rock in the middle of the stream again. Meadow Browns and both Lang's ST Blues and LT Blues seen again. The Garden Warbler seen by the tall trees by the stream was joined by a male Blackcap. 6 Willow Emerald Damselflies seen this time by the fence and stream, again showing well. A large black and white moth settling under a leaf proved to be a Jersey Tiger Moth, posed nicely (another new moth species), this is the species seen in their thousands in the erroneously named Valley of the Butterflies on Rhodes! Back on the beach, A large 10 inch Starry Agama perched on the top of a corner of a curved wall and quickly disappeared never to be seen again. Walking along a path between some houses and the RT Pipit field. I suddenly heard a "pphlatt" and it looked like a large green stick had been thrown onto the wall, it wasn't that, it was an impressive Balkan Green Lizard, a big Lizard, at least a foot long, very green and they were always appear abruptly out of nowhere, reminding me of Cato (hilariously played by Burt Kwourk in the brilliantly funny Inspector Clouseau films) suddenly appearing and attacking the hapless Clouseau (superbly played by Peter Sellers, it cracks me up every time!) the Balkan Green Lizard (NOT Cato!) quickly ran along the wall away from and leapt into a back garden. Also here were 2 mating Rock Graylings the back of the wings touching they would land briefly before flying again further along the path, garden or the field. Over a large Conifer wood, an Eleonora's Falcon flew by plus a large accipter that proved to be a Goshawk. Back at Potaki Beach on the final evening, the male Red- backed Shrike showed well again on the wires and the fence and after it flew of its own volition, to hunt in a different area (where I skilfully managed to get my big Chevrolet American hire car stuck, the right back wheel on a foot tall mound of sand and the left back wheel on a foot dip pit). Trying the gears only spewed up sand. Fortunately however, I had noted a foot square patch of carpet and placing it behind the left wheel provided enough traction for the wheels to reverse and free! We also saw the Shrike very briefly, very close feeding in some vegetation by the side of the road, it chose to perch on a fence running parallel to the road just 4 feet away, amazingly close just as luck would have it a car passed scaring it off, just I was about to get the shot, typical! By the Harbour, 2 YL Herring Gulls seen, one on the dock then joined one on the sea, plus 2 Hooded Crows distantly on the harbour wall. The weird beastie was outside the front door again with its probiscus was sucking the juices out of poor unfortunate leafbug upturned on its back. Later checking proved the predator to be the appropriately named Red Assassin bug (Rhinocoris iracundus) Walking into Pythagorian in the dark, 3, 6 inch long Cylinder Millipedes seen, one on a wall and 2 on the pavement. Plus, just past the lakes by the grassy area, 3 excellent Brown Preying Mantis, "Mantis religiosa" seen hunting for insects on the pavement. As usual, really tricky to photograph especially in the dark, just lit by the street light and when I was lying flat on the pavement to get some pics I had a concerned lady cyclist ask me if I was alright! Final morning, Thursday 27th September, a quick visit by the grassy field with the horse in it. A Fan- tailed Warbler seen by a reedy/ scrubby area and flew away, 3 Collared Doves (this species seen everywhere), 4 Crested Larks in the field, plus by the man made Lake, 2 White Wagtails fed. Also seen during the holiday about 4 Nosed Grasshoppers, always odd looking creatues, in grassy areas and many c30 Red- winged Grasshoppers. By the weedy area, 2 Whinchats flew away and perched on the fence. Finally, 2 Hooded Crows seen. I promise to post some pics soon & I hope to post back again in the UK but I currently suffering from a foot infection and can barely walk!

Samos Day 5 & 6: Up in the Mountains & on the Beach!

On Monday 24th September, Parking up in the Mountains, just 1 and a half kilometers past Pyrgos, as we drove up a Raven flew right over the road, I parked by the "Pure Honey" stall and had a spectacular view over the mountain valley, a male Blue Rock Thrush, showed a flash of metallic blue as it flew across the road and perched on a pole opposite. 2 excellent Steppe Buzzards, my first since my Israel trip in the 1990's flew over the mountain, with a pale head and striking and contasting black carpal patches and white inner webs to the primaries with a black band at the base of a rusty tale. 3 single very elegant Eleonora's Falcons flew over the mountain or behind me, with typically long sleek wings and long tail. 1 male Red- backed Shrike was also seen here in the valley perched on top a bush. A visit to Potami Beach, Jenny was swimming again, I checked the local Blackberry bush by the road, which included a host of butterflies including the usual Lang's Short- tailed Blues, Long- tailed Blues plus a pale buff Skipper which would fly to a section of the bush settles for just 3 seconds and then repeat the procedure, it was a Millet Skipper, yet another new Butterfly species! I then walked along the beach found the end of a watery dyke area which ended abruptly on the beach. walking past some houses and a small enclosed field, an excellent Red- throated Pipit flew up calling a shrill metallic "psstt" and then was seen briefly by the dyke area by the beach. By some Tamarisk bushes I walked inland of the beach by some small allotments butting a stream, this was a very productive area given the time of year and in a back garden I saw and heard a Garden Warbler singing brief snatches of song. I also heard only the shrill calls of a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail. Another Plain Tiger seen here, plus more all too brief Scarce Swallowtail and Swallowtail butterflies flying left along the beach. By the bushes by the fence, several c10 Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen. Plus some a Brown, a Rock Grayling type and a fantastic Lattice Brown (another new butterfly species!) settled and posed on the fence for the camera! walking up the stream, 2 sudden plops eventually revealed 2 Stripe- necked Terrapins that crawled back up onto a triangular rock protruding out of the water. Later Jenny & I walked up to the source of the water by a waterfall, another Samos Grayling seen here plus by a Chapel, a possible Roesel's Bush Cricket was seen and photo'd (I'll check the ID) plus a easily identified Grey Wagtail feeding by the stream and flying up the stream. From here, we all stripped down to swimming trunks/ swimsuits and had a great time wading through the clear cool mountain water chest high through an open cavern to see the waterfall 80 yards away, British, Greek & German nationalities, all entered into the spirit and it was a fun thing to do and very cooling too after the high 30's degrees celsius temperatures on the beach. On Tuesday 25th September, at Pythagorian car park but a concrete tunnel area, I saw my very first Starry Agama, a Lizard with a jowly face, seen on the edge here on the grass and eventually scuttled into the tunnel. Further along by a wall (with a door sized gap in the middle) by the beach another Starry Agama seen on the right hand side. By the rough grass area just inland of here butterflies seen included my first Painted Lady of the year, very briefly, Mallow Skipper again and the usual Lang's ST & LT Blues. A stop by a Fig tree revealed another Millet Skipper, plus 2 Crested Larks. At Herarian archaeological site, we parked the car in front of some wires where 30 Swallows had assembled prior to their southward migration. By another wire, a Spotted Flycatcher perched plus a Whinchat nearby. Within the Herarian itself, 8 Plain Tigers seen flying around, 3 Spotted Flycatchers on various fence wires plus a female and a very close male Red- backed Shrike (but frustratingly, totally against the strong sunlight) A Common Buzzard flew by left inland, Back at Potaki beach in the early evening I managed to photograph the reasonably obliging male Red- backed Shrike on overhead wires and a fence. By the Roman temple, the sharp- eyed Jenny spotted an excellent large foot long Starry Agama perched on the very top of some stones, after playing cat and mouse for half an hour I managed some shots of this beast, another 10 inch Starry Agama crawled along by the base of a column, whilst smaller Starry agama, one 4 inches long near the original site plus one Starry Agama 7 inches long and another 4 incher diagonally opposite. 7 Starry Agamas seen in total all on very hot sun exposed stones basking in the sun, but sensitive to disturbance! A weird beastie seen by the wall outside our front door was phot'd for future ID. A walk into the town during twilight revealed a Little Owl on a telegraph post right on the edge of town!

Samos Day 3 & 4, an excursion to Ephesus, Turkey

On Saturday 22nd September, a visit to the Archaelogical site near Pythagorian revealed several butterflies including Blues, Lang's Short- tailed Blue and Southern Meadow Brown. At the Ampitheatre half way up the mountain overlooking Pythagorian, a spectacular view from up here amongst the restored wooden seating area a couple of Samos Grayling types (? I think) flew about and eventually gave themselves up to the camera. There was no doubt however about the birds, a Red- rumped Swallow flew past and a superb Long- legged Buzzard was mobbed by a female Red- footed Falcon. At Kokari beach layby, I stopped suddenly as I saw a mystery bright orange butterfly that recalled a small Monarch, it wasn't that but when I got home the photo's proved it was a Plain Tiger, another new butterfly species, it flew around settled for seconds and then it was off flying down the road and out of sight despite me going in hot pursuit after it. A Raven flew past here. Also here were a Lang's Short- tailed Blue and a magnificent Scarce Swallowtail that put in an all too brief appearance. back in the afternoon, at Potaki Beach, 2 Bee- eater flew off the wires and south. A female Marsh harrier quartered the marsh type habitat at the end, 1 Flava Wagtail was on the road by the Army medical camp, where I dare not stop! Whilst several Spotted Darters, 3 females and 1 male seen also. Finally, 2 male Red- backed Shrike, including 1 reasonably obliging individual perched on vegetation in a field overhead wires and a nearby fence, definately worth putting some time in to get some shots (photo) of this bird, me thinks! Saturday night, and a very pleasant stroll down to Pythagorian for Jenny & I in the fading light for an evening meal at the excellent Aphrodite garden restaurant (Greek food is a favourite of mine, especially Mousakka and Chicken Souvlaki!) revealed 3 Little Owls singles perched on a tree, a post and finally a telegraph pole, 2 of their number were calling. Very sadly, a Bush Cricket was stuck to the path on the walk back as someone had inadvertently trodden on the rear of its abdomen on the walk back (ID to follow as I have a pic) plus a buzzing Cicada by the side of the road, quickly crept underneath the kerb nearby. On Sunday 23rd September, a quick check of the local pool only revealed 1 Little Egret and a Grey Heron. On the Boat trip to Turkey, taken from samos town, I saw 2 individual Mediterranean Shags, 2 were seen perched on the end of the rock on the way back. On the way out, several YL Herring Gulls seen plus near Turkey, 2 large Shearwaters which showed more extensive white on the inner edge of the underparts of the primaries proved to be absolutely superb 2 Scopoli's Shearwaters, given the geography, flew (only my second ever sighting of this species), past the boat, at reasonably close quarters. In Turkey itself, 30 House Martin seen flying over an arable field, 3 Swallow and most memorably on the journey back from the magnificent Ephesus ancient Site to Kusadasi, a superb Black Stork flew right over some fields near a wooded slope.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Samos Day 1 & 2: Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Lizards & Mantids

Jenny & I have just had a week's holidays on the Greek island of Samos, lying in the Aegean sea just 2 km off Turkey and just south of Lesbos. I was expectant of some great late autumn birding. I arrived almost too late and most of the summer visitors had already left! We were based on the east of the island at Pythagorian, a charming town with lots of history, old archaelogical sites a plenty and was formerly the home of the bane of many a maths student the Greek Mathematician Pythagoras (hence the town's name!). During the course of the week I had hurt my foot and am at present almost totally incapacitated! Landing at the airport, on Thursday 20th September, we picked up the hire car, a Large American Chevrolet car (we'd opted for a mini- hatchback with air conditioning from a well known hire car company!) It's tyres, I later found out were only half pumped up! We saw 2 Red- rumped Swallows flew by, whilst an evening trip to Potaki beach travelling along the road on the wires to the north some 30 Bee- eaters were amassed getting ready to leave to fly south. c10 Blue- headed Yellow Flava Wagtails were feeding on the road and rough ground in front of some sort of compound & had me driving around photographing them for 30 minutes until oops! an army soldier in full uniform walked out complete with Kalashnikov machine gun! I then nonchalently, drove off! By the marsh by a dyke, I saw an immature Purple Heron, it saw me and flew off joined by a further 2 immatures, 3 immature Purple Herons which flew around in circles three times before landing 110 yards behind their original haunt! 2 female Red- backed Shrikes seen on wires as I drove back, whilst trying to photograph, one of the Shrikes an Army vehicle drove up and observed me from 20 yards away before driving off! A Chiff- Chaff feeding on the ground by the Anna Studios car park. In the evening a walk revealed a Little Grebe on a Pool plus a YL Herring Gull in the harbour. An early morning walk on Friday 21st September revealed 2 Little Egret, a Grey Heron and 4 Little Grebe around the Pool. Plus 3 Little Owl, one on wires over the orchard, 1 on a post further along and 1 on a post in a field by the hotel, which posed for the camera nicely. A Fan- tailed Warbler flew out of some vegetation, 2 Great Tit also seen plus 2 calling Crested Larks and on wires a Hooded Crow was mobbing an unfortunate female Red- footed Falcon. 30 Bee- eaters were heard and seen flying high over the mountain. 2 Long- tailed Blue butterflies also seen. When we sat by the bar at the Anna Studios listening to the Thomson rep, 2 Crested Larks flew over low calling. Later on as I was taking things out to the car, I saw an excellent pale orange- tailed Long- legged Buzzard fly inland overhead and over the mountain. At Poseidon beach, Jenny went for a swim whilst in someone's back garden I saw a female Red- backed Shrike. Whilst walking back to the car parked in front of some Tamarisk Bushes I noticed first one then 2 then 3 Egyptian Grasshoppers perched along the branches checking further Tamarisk bushes I counted a total of 11 Egyptian Grasshoppers, a great tally. We then travelled near to Samos Town and on the journey saw another female Red- backed Shrike perched on top a bush. At Psilli Amnos, the water pans were completely dry although not completely devoid of life, a Mallow Skipper was seen on the grassy path down and it kept coming back to the area, posing for the camera. Plus 2 female and 1 male Spotted Darters species also seen further along on the left. The females had the ubiquitous yellow abdomens, the males slightly flattened orange red abdomens with notable yellow patches on the side. I had to be careful because 200 yards down the road was a large Army base!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A selection of Lowestoft Birds

Late afternoon on Sunday 16th September, I was keen to take advantage of the sunny weather and excellent light. First stop Lake Lothing at Asda. Always a happy hunting ground today was no exception, several, 6 Common Terns were flying around, up to 6 seen, an adult and 5 immatures constantly fishing. Next a Grey Seal was seen in the water briefly with its head up it then swam back east where it surfaced again 100 yards to the east. Finally the Guillemot, in winter plumage was seen on the water right in front of Asda. It disappeared when 6 sailing ships sailed past and west. Next stop Ness point, on the seawall by Bird's Eye, I saw Danny P digiscoping and as I joined him I could see a group of around 15 Turnstones and an immature Purple Sandpiper with them, it spent most of its time at the back/ top of the rocks not surprising as the Turnstones would occasionally chase it off. I also spotted to the right a Knot, in transitional summer to winter plumage, it was still a warm ochre colour on its breast. The Knot was harried almost constantly by the Turnstones. We were then joined by andrew E. The Knot fed on the rocks bathed in the water, it posed nicely for the camera (but not the digiscope) by stretching its wings and then went to sleep a couple of times for a few minutes. Later on, from Links Road car park, by the marram grass, I saw a Wheatear, it was showing well albeit in the shadows but finally it appeared bathed in the sunlight and I crept up and managed a few shots.