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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"Bullies" return again

At 8.05am, 8.35am and 9.10am the pair of Bullfinches were again feeding on the buds of the Cherry tree at the back of the garden. Initially the female Bullfinch was to the fore, but later it was the male Bullfinch at the front. They flew off when yet another dog walker with a luminous jacket walked past (see 27 Jan post at Oulton Broad). But they returned about half an hour later.
A few minutes later, a Jay flew in and briefly perched on the tree.
On Saturday 29th the RSPB the 1 hour garden birdwatch was a little disappointing, but only counting birds seen in the garden I counted 1 Greenfinch (usually have more of these but I have temporarily run out of sunflower seeds), 4, Chaffinch (2 male, 2 female), 2 Wood Pigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 2 Great tit, 2 Blue tit, 2 Robin and 2 Blackbirds.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Kessingland Owls

On Sunday 29th January, just before 2.30pm, I walked down to the Kessingland sewage works by the fence a regularly calling Chiff- Chaff was seen well and another second Chiff- Chaff called from the other side of the track.
Walking down to the caravan park, by their car park, an excellent Short- eared Owl flew out from the bushes past the dyke and over to a hedgerow by an arable field. walking around there carefully, a dog bounded by disturbing, a Short- eared Owl flew up from the path ahead and west across the field over a dyke to another field. walking around the path looping around to the right/west, I raised my bins and instantly saw the Short- eared owl perched on the ground on a muddy area. I watched this Owl for over an hour and it remained perched during the whole period of observation. Moving its head, often alert, it reacted when another Short- eared Owl flew first right and then left.
A drumming Snipe flew past and over my head, whilst in the distance a Barn Owl flew by.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Great Lowestoft January birding

Having the morning off from work, on a bright sunny virtually windless morning (for a change), first stop Burnt Hill Lane and 9am, I scanned the field to the west and initially i couldn't see them and then I scanned again and there they were, 4 excellent Tundra Bean Geese. Fine birds with dark brown chocolate heads, small squat short bills with orange tips and orange legs. Too far away to photograph, I just enjoyed the scope views for several minutes. I turned away for a minute and then they were gone, I scanned and checked again they had definitely gone! They must have flown as I took my eye away from the scope to text the info out, this seems to be confirmed by a single call I heard to my right (west of the field) of a Bean Goose.
Next stop was Oulton Broad at Pets corner, I met Richard S, who had seen it around the jetty by Caldecott road, I eventually drove around there and duly saw the redhead Goosander which was initially at the jetty and then she swam quickly to the middle of the Broad (when a dog walker with a luminous jacket walked past and stopped rather perversely right in front where the Goosander was & before I could set the camera up!) and then right and out of sight again.
2 adult Egyptian Geese seen by the Boulevard and a further 2 adults and 3 immature birds by the Wherry (the only bird to pose for the camera today). A male and female Tufted Duck were reasonably close to the waters edge. A Little Grebe was seen by the "bowl" too.
At Riverside road, looking out over Lake Lothing, the excellent Black- throated Diver was seen swimming around the orange buoy whilst perched at the waters edge of a large grey ship behind the Lydia Eva, 2 Shag were seen also.
Hamilton Dock was empty and I couldn't see the Iceland from here, but my time was running out.
Next stop Ness Point where I saw 8 Purple Sandpipers mainly roosting on the northern end of the point where the sea defence rocks extend out into the sea by 20 metres, they were all asleep on the usual rock.
By the wind turbine, just past some stacked pipes a fine male Black Redstart was seen perched on a pile of wooden poles, before some visiting "birders" yelled out "Dave's got it" (they were only trying to be helpful but slightly annoying when I had already spotted it and was hoping to photograph it) which flushed the bird back to a wooden hut and it perched on a traffic cone lying on its side before darting off again.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Nothing doing

A quick look around Lowestoft before work on Monday 25th January and Thursday 26th January failed to reveal much save for the Wood Duck on both occasions at Oulton Broad the Goosander being particularly elusive as usual especially in the sunny calm conditions.
Visits to Belton for work saw me seeing the Ruddy Shelduck on Tuesday (with 12 Egyptian Geese) and Thursday (with c40 Egyptian Geese) from the road to Belton just 10 yards after turning off from the A143.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Goosander (at last!) and Velvet Scoter

Luckily, I checked the computer (still receiving no tweet and I am mystified as to the problem??) and there were several tweets, the first was (13 minutes ago) saying the Goosander was back on Oulton Broad, I raced over there and parking at Pets corner, I looked around and I couldn't see any sawbills, but as I wandered around the channel by the moored boats there it was at last, the female Goosander. Setting the camera up quickly I fired off a few shots but the light and wind weren't making things easy, the bird was preening and then restful, but then she decided enough was enough and she swam under the jetty and over to the next channel that was only viewable though a 6 foot tall wooden fence. Photography was going to be tricky. She reared up and flapped her wings a few times and a boat owner walking along the wooden jetty (sadly locked and not accessible) didn't alarm her too much.

I left soon after and remembering the second tweet on the computer I drove to Great Yarmouth and parking at the end of Blackfriars road, was soon taking the path to the beach along the southern edge of the Pleasure beach at Great Yarmouth, I joined Dick W by the water's edge and scoped the wonderful female Velvet Scoter with white wing clip on her dark black body, pale circle area on the head and orange based bill, she was around 100 yards away. On one occasion she caught a shellfish shook it about and eventually swallowed it whole creating a bulge in her throat, i just hope it doesn't give her indigestion. My slightly embarrasing lack of Med Gull sightings for 2012 were soon rectified when an adult, a fine immature bird flew past going north, whilst finally 10 birds, Mediterranean Gulls congregated on the beach, most were winter adults but 1 immature bird seen also. We were also joined by Paul W who briefed us on his latest birding adventures.
UPDATE: 23/1 Twitter now working again for me, I changed my settings and transferred the SIM card to a better mobile phone.

No tweets or birds either

I have had absolutely no Tweets today, has Twitter gone down today or is it a problem with my phone I have no idea? Not sure how to rectify this problem, either, so I won't be doing any tweets if I find anything, as it probably won't reach anyone either.

So going out "blind" back at Oulton Broad, from Pets Corner, a Kingfisher flew away from its perch on a moored boat. Again the wind was very strong blowing from the west making birding difficult. I failed to see yet again the now near mythical Goosander at Oulton Broad, the Wood Duck was showing well resting on the side of a rowing boat, when the sun eventually came out. I checked the along from the Bouleevard and Lake Lothing too but again nothing. Nothing on Carlton Marshes either.
I also had a look at Riverside road and Asda overlooking the river and all I saw was a Cormorant and a diving Little Grebe. Nothing in Hamilton Dock either.
At Ness Point by the rocky ledge by the compass, 8 Purple Sandpipers fed close in, but in appalling light. They later flew north and 4 were asleep on a rock jutting upwards along the northern tip of Ness Point.
I also checked Links road car park but they were no birds on there either.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Showy Iceland & non-existant (for me) Goosander

Allowing for the rain to clear, I visited Leathes ham, a male and female Pintail were very close to the feeding area but the light was dreadful again and the superb adult Iceland Gull was perched on one of the cut tree stumps, mostly preening during the period of observation, I did manage to get a few shots of it. Eventually the Iceland Gull flew over to a distant roof and it was my cue to leave. Good to see Andrew E and Paul & Jane here.
Next stop, Oulton Broad after receiving danny P's messages of the Goosander showing well. Thoroughly checking the Boulevard and the rowing club slipway I couldn't see hide nor hair of it. Compensation came in a very confiding Wood Duck amongst some boat, so close I had to step back a little way to obtain shots with my 500mm fixed lens. Paul & Jane arrived and Andrew and Rob Wil arrived my we still didn't see it!
Going back at 3pm following Dick's text, parking at Pets corner, Rob & Andrew were there and had seen it but I couldn't find this really elusive bird on my 4th attempt! Some birds have really given me the runaround this year already, Hoopoe, RLB and now this sawbill. Disappointing.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Burgh Castle again

I had a look again at Breydon today at 8am walking out from Burgh Castle and taking the path for 300 yards and walkin north- east, I could see a lot of Redshank c40 this side of the channel and they flew further along. sadly, the weather conditions were poor with oveercast cloud, light rain and a moderately strong westerly blowing into my face. No chance of any photography this morning. A Stonechat flew up (my first of thee year) and over the west over the water. A bird flew up from the grassy area in front of me the other side of the flood barrier, it was an excellent Twite and 4 additional birds joined it, and they were seen briefly out in the open, 5 excellent Twite the pale chestnut faces and yellow bills were noted before they hopped over into cover, I had to go too, it was 8.30am, to get back to work in time for 9am. Very nice to see them and my first sighting of this species for several years.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Burgh Castle

A look at Breydon Water at Burgh Castle at lunchtime failed to reveal the hoped for Twite, apparently they had flown across the river as I walking up (just my luck and Breydon had rarely been a happy "hunting" ground for me). However, I did managed to see 1 Bearded Tit flying over the reeds and 3 Avocet in the water which were new year ticks.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Rough-leg at last!

Walking down again through Fritton woods following an earlier sighting of the Rough- leg, it was good to meet John H, Paul & Jane. They hadn't seen it, was it to be my fifth dip for this bird? A female Marsh Harrier was perched on the deck just beyond the reeds by the river, in exactly the same position I had seen her last night. A further 2 female Marsh Harriers quartered the reeds, and to complete the girly theme, a female Sparrowhawk flew out of the wood and left over the marshes.
John H said he had a bird which looked interesting but it was a long, long way away and initially it could either have been the Rough- leg or a large female Marsh harrier. It was seen sitting on a post on the right edge of a wooden gate post. It showed a dark back and tail and pale head and breast.
It looked promising and we continued to observe, but we also wanted to rule out an abberant Common Buzzard and when more plumage features could be seen, clearly on size and shape it looked just too big and far too wide in the girth (of the breast) for a Marsh Harrier. It showed a pale cream head and breast with dark streaking on it (classic RFB features), the breast was puffed out making it look quite corpulent. It showed a dark brown streaked back with what looked like creamy streaks.
But the tail looked all dark. it was only when it started preening and it lifted its tail to the vertical that I could make out white on the mid tail and uppertail, this became more apparent as it preened.
At this point OFB rang to say he and Ricky F were watching a RFB from Burgh Castle and their location fitted our bird precisely.
When the bird preened again, I could clearly make out a lot of white on the tail (except the dark tip) and we could finally say that we were watching a magnificent immature Rough-Legged Buzzard. Regular correspondent Paul W arrived and concurred with our ID, too.
Leaving shortly later, I was delighted to spot 8 delightful Crossbills (including 2 stunning brick- red males) feeding from the very top of a very tall leylandii tree just past the Fritton Lodge on north side of the track. An incongrous setting for them, I expected to see them in a Pine tree but they appeared happy on the Leylandii (around 5 females seen, one very green female sat a foot down from the top giving resonable views, the other 3 birds appeared to be immature birds but a real treat to see and new for 2012.
A trip to Southwold with Jenny revealed 1 Redwing in the Churchyard as we walked through but when we walked back at least 8 Redwings were seen calling and flying out of some holly bushes.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Iceland in the Dock

From around 8am, I was looking over Waveney Dock from the car park and after 10 minutes I saw the excellent adult Iceland Gull flying around. Again flying low and appeared to perch of the ground in front of the fish market. I could see Chris D looking from Hamilton road but otherwise there was not a soul about. I tweeted the news out and just after 9am the bird even flew up and perched for some 10 minutes on the fish market roof. As it alighted onto the roof, I received a call from OFB.
After some 30 minutes I was belatedly joined by James B, Tony B, OFB, Paul & Jane and others.
OFB and I looked at Leathes Ham, we had close views of 4 Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and 2 male Pintail, one had a pale buff- brown head.
On Oulton Broad, from Caldecott road, I saw a Shag perched on a post and from the railway bridge, I spied 4 Shags swimming around the ship, a Redshank and Turnstone were on the near shore. I was back at Leathes Ham mid afternoon but just missed the Iceland there and went onto Fritton woods via Bradwell where the Ruddy Shelduck was with c40 Egyptian Geese viewable from the road down to Belton.
From Fritton woods, I saw 2 Short- eared Owls, 1 perched on a post, one on a gatepost, they later quartered the fields/ reeds area. 4 female Marsh Harriers flew around and later on c6000 Pink- footed Geese flew north over the marshes, an impressive sight.
Near Dusk, a Buzzard flew into Fritton woods, definately a Common and not the hoped for RFB, so disappointingly again despite a 2 hour vigil until 5.05pm, I again missed the RFB, 3 Snipe flew out from the woods over the marshes. Birds heard only were Bearded tit and Green Sandpiper.

Friday, 13 January 2012

High Arctic Visitor

On Thursday 12th January, whilst putting the bins out at 11.30pm I could hear the cries of a Fox calling from directly west of the Close.

Finally well enough for an early morning visit, I saw the excellent adult Iceland Gull this morning on Friday 13th January, viewed from the top level bar one of Battery Green car park, parking along the free car parking spaces by the police station and walking across. This denizen of the high Arctic was seen before work, flying around Waveney Dock, a stunning bird all white with light grey upperparts and a "light brown shawl" on the upper breast, the bird was seen from around 7.40am to 8.10am (when I had to leave for work. It flew around the dock, even settling for a time (out of view) presumably on the ground right in front of the fish market. I never did see the bird perched, but I had good views of it flying around the dock, around the far eastern wall. As a ship slowly cruised across, the Iceland Gull was then flying around the middle of the dock and looked for the world if the ship's skipper was a birder and even manoeuvring it for a better view, what I would have given to been on board with my camera and lens! The bird was flying right over into Hamilton Dock on several occasions and was even seen flying almost over to the South Pier area too.
Driving over to Martham again, I saw a male Goldeneye on Rollesby Broad as I drove past slowly again.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

"Bullies" return

On Tuesday 10th January, whilst driving slowly past Rollesby Broad, I could see the Great Northern Diver on the east side of the Broad plus a very close male Goldeneye on the west side of the Broad, couldn't stop as I was off to Martham Library.
The plaintiff "pouu" calls of Bullfinches at lunchtime Wednesday 11th January (although I couldn't face any food) had me looking out of the bedroom window today, I was off work with an ongoing bad attack of presumed food poisoning which has affected poor Jenny too. We may have picked it up whilst eating out at Gorleston eatery laughing called a "cafe" one lunchtime (Monday). The pair of Bullfinches have returned to the garden at 1.40pm feeding presumably on the sprouting buds from the Cherry tree (a sign of the very mild weather). The male was typically resplendent with peachy pink breast and underparts, the female a more subdued but striking coffee brown colour.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Dismal weekend

On Saturday, 7th January the very strong winds had blown down our Jasmine and Honeysuckle plants alongside 2 Trellis' completely destroyed, what great weather we are having, not! Third time unlucky (in 2012) on a very windy afternoon (always bad for spotting birds) , and inevitably yet again I failed to see the RFB from Fritton woods, the windy conditions certainly didn't help. 2 female Marsh Harriers were seen and around 20 Pink-feet and a Chinese Water Deer seen. Marsh Tit, Treecreeper 2, Coal Tit also seen all in a sunny spot around a tree and bushes by the entrance track, a nice interlude in an otherwise birdless weekend. Ruddy Shelduck seen distantly from the A143 (too distantly to photograph) with the group of Egyptian Geese.
Sunday after a very nasty migraine cut short any morning birding activity, a look at the Drive Reydon (driven by Jenny, I couldn't drive following this morning's bad head) on 2 occasions this afternoon failed to reveal any Waxwings. 1 female Marsh Harrier flew over Potters Bridge marshes.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Cold and Windy

Tuesday 3rd January was a complete wash out, walking through Fritton woods, a Muntjac Deer looked at me by a puddle on the path. Looking over a very windswept Fritton/ Haddiscoe island very little was seen due to the weather conditions save c100 Pink- footed Geese out on the marshes and elsewhere, the Ruddy Shelduck was again seen along the New road, fairly close to the road in the company of some 60 odd Egyptian Geese.

On Wednesday 4th January, a much better day, albeit it was still very windy, I picked up John H at Caister, first stop was Buckenham marshes, along the way to the mill we saw some very close Wigeon c300 birds and 300 yards beyond the mill we could see c30 Taiga Bean Geese with them was the excellent Lesser White-fronted Goose, smaller in stature with distinctive white shield shape distinguished it from the otherlarger White- fronts but it was more difficult to pick out when it was fededing head down also 60 White- fronted Geese , and several close Wigeon.
Strumpshaw Fen workers on the marsh we were looking over revealed little save for 1 brave female Shovelor. , feeders inc. 1 Marsh Tit
Next stop Ranworth Broad, where the female Ring- necked Duck was seen quite close and with good scope views, just left of the Visitors centre (which was closed) and the duck was feeding among submerged tree routes in water with Pochard and Tufted Duck. walking along tree lined meadow first, a "rattling" Mistle Thrush seen then a Fieldfare perched in a top roight hand branch.
Finally at Rollesby Broad the Great Northern Diver seen well with a stunning male Goldeneye seen behind him.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Years Day 2012

Driving back from Wales 2 Red Kites and a Buzzard seen over the M4 just before Reading (the Kites) and just after (the Buzzard),
Arriving at Lake Lothing via Riverside road late in the day, the Black- throated Diver was showing very well, swimming along the river right in front of us and therefore good shots were obtained albeit in poor light. Much further west along the river, a female Red-breasted Merganser was seen rather distantly by the orange bouy. A "tweet" message stating a Hume's or Yellow- browed had me eventually driving to Ness Point, the warbler was seen flitting and working right along the bushes, it was a bright Yellow- browed Warbler. It worked its way right along the bushes and then promptly disappeared. Some fifteen minutes later it reappeared showing well on occasions albeit very briefly, the cream supercilia, double wing bats and cream tertial edging clearly seen. 5 Purple Sandpipers were seen on the rocks butting out from the northern end of Ness Point, 4 were asleep one was busy feeding away from the gang of four.
A look in Hamilton Dock cost me a sighting of the Hoopoe (nonetheless a great find by Ricky) which I missed by 5 minutes.

On the 2nd January, after a further 3 hours looking over Bouton and Paul's old factory, finally at 11.20am all the Pigeons flew up and underneath them flapping away with it's distinctive butterfly flight, the buff- orange plumaged Hoopoe with with black and white- spotted wings flew underneath them, it also sported a folded crest and longish down curved bill. It flapped around then dropped down after about a minute's duration.
Meanwhile along the river, the Black- throated Diver showed reasonably well today albeit in much better light than yesterday.
A trip to Beccles eventually revealed 64 Waxwings,perched precariously along the roadside verge bushes just west of the Go Kart track, I had refound them and phoned OFB and both he and Dick drove over and sensibly stayed in their cars. But unfortunately an individual from Bury St. Edmunds (who will remain nameless although I know who he is!) decided to walk straight up to the bush (why???) and inevitably scared the Waxwings off. They were later seen in a distant bush in a disused industrial yard, albeit much further away. 2 Fieldfares perched high up in a tree elsewhere. I unfortunately flushed a Short- eared Owl flushed from a bush, just metres away during a comfort stop! It simply flew away obviously startled, poor thing!
Finally, taking Mill Lane by Mutford "high street" and right by the iron gate, Morris B, OFB and Dick W and I walked out along the footpath traversing the middle of a very promising looking field, we waited for 2 Short- eared Owls, the first one, eventually came out at just after 2.30pm, the darker individual flew along the east side of the field and initially flew towards us before swooping down in to the field. it later flew along the edge and over the gate right by OFB's car and the waiting incumbent (Morris B) had an Owl's eye view at very close range. A paler Short- eared Owl was west of the field near a barn, where it perched on a distant post for a while before hunting again along the south side of the field.

A Very Wet Wales

Arriving at Mum's on Wednesday 28th December, a Nuthatch was seen chuntering from the tree opposite the front door.
Not a birding trip but a strictly family event.
The whole time I was there it poured with rain day after day. Walking down to the stream near Llannon, doing something I wish I never had to do, we heard a Dipper fly past.
The next day at Cymisfael Stream by the bridge right at the end of the hill a Dipper was seen close to the bridge briefly before flying a few yards away.

Boxing Day Birds

A trip to Minsmere to pick up Suffolk Birds 2010, I was disappointed not to get any photo's published this year but the standard of pics are fabulous and most taken by pro photographers, but pleased to get recognition for my Rough- leg flying over Fritton woods in 2010. From Whin Hill I spotted around 8 Bewick's Swans. walking back to the car I heard a "pitchou" call looked up and saw a Marsh Tit by the side of the woods.
Receiving a text as I was driving was passing Kessingland, I saw Chris M at the Sewage works path and had a nice chat before walking some 150 yards further on and right taking the path stradling 2 fields, in the southern most one, 64 White- fronted Geese were in the field reasonably close and showing well, i decided to take shots with my newly acquired lens.