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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Not Strictly birding

At Leathes Ham, I saw Richard W, who quickly left as there appeared to be no sign of the Goosander, and I decided to tempt some Pintails over to the northern end, a male Wigeon took the bait, or rather bread and showed well for the camera as did 3 Coot who wolfed the bread down. Walking back to the feeding area, the excellent redhead Goosander was showing ridiculously well, mostly too close for the camera lens. Stepping back I managed a few shots despite the cross sunlight. 3 Pintail, 2 males (one very pale headed one) and a female also showed well. Today was a non- birding day out with Jenny, however i managed to squeeze in a fe birds. At Minsmere approach road, there were 24 Bewick's Swans in the field this time further away, nice to see Rob Wil & Paul and Jane here too. At Pakefield cliffs, parking by the roundabout I walked out 100 yards north and through the field and along the hedgerow having seen 150 Brent Geese in flight settling into the field, I watched from the hedgerow, and easily picked out 2 stunning Pale- bellied Brent Geese sticking loosely together at the back of the flock.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A feast of birding

An excellent morning's birding today, I had waited all week hoping to try for the Greenland White- front down at North Warren. At North Warren, i parked just past the cottage on the left and seeing 2 birders scoping the Geese, it turned out to be Roy M and Lee W. They were just leaving and Roy kindly showed me where the bird was, the excellent Greenland White- fronted Goose, before he left. But it was difficult, the bird was asleep and it was only when the bird woke up and walked about, showing a very dark brown back and below with thick breast marking on the darker breast, just a sliver of white at the base of the dark tail and most significantly the orange bill with white around the base of the bill. A cracking bird but very difficult to pick out unless it was side on with its head up and almost impossible to pick out if it was walking away from you feeding or asleep. The first one i have ever seen of this form. Scanning through the flock a little later after the birds had moved a little, I picked it out with its dark back and orange bill as it walked right, it was at the back of the flock, just in front of some reeds at the back of the field. A little later, a fine Tundra Bean Goose with short bill, black at the base and orange at the tip seen too. Also with the Whit- fronted Geese were 5 Barnacle Geese. Next stop Minsmere, viewing from Whin Hill, initially not a lot was seen but after careeful scanning the excellent Glossy Ibis was seen distantly in a feild way over to the right just in front of the line of Poplars near eastbridge village. The bird although distant showed its distinctive dark silhouette longish neck and legss and long down curved bill as it consstantly fed in the field. At one point it flew back and behind the Poplars before we picked up again in the same field. Whilst on Island Mere, 4 redhead Smew were seen on the western end and at the southern end another 4 redhead Smew were seen, the original 4 Smew flew to join the others creating an impressive flock of 8 redhead Smew. Someone picked up the excellent Great White Egret walking right along a distant field reed edge the large size, kinked neck and yellow bill were clearly seen despite the range. Several 5 Meadow Pipits were seen in the grass just ahead. Driving out of the Minsmere approach road, a flock of 16 Bewick's Swans seen in the middle of the field reasonably close to the road, I parked up and manageed tto get aa few shots. At Benacre broad, I counted 11 Goldeneye, 1 male and 10 females. A flock of 40 Teal seen too, plus 2 Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher at the beach end edge of the Broad, the Oystercatcher was flushed and it strangely it perched in the middle of the back of the Broad, obviously the water level is low. I finally picked out the excellent Slavonian Grebe which was constantly diving right out in front the hide albeit on the northern half.

Week of Dips

Wednesday 22nd February, I tried early morning for the WT eagle which was seen in a field near Filby, missed it be 10 minutes. I saw a Great- crested Grebe crouched low over the water on Rollesby broad. Very disappointing especially as I was one of the very few people that missed the Eagle the previous year. Thursday 23rd February, I tried for the 5 Ibis's seen on Berney marshes, arriving at Burgh Castle early morning I saw Peter A, the finder, but the birds had flown behind a cottage and in the 30 minutes I was there there didn't reappear. However amongst a flock of 200 Brent Geese were 2 Pale- bellied Brent Geese. Lunchtime and 3 of the Ibis' had flown. But none were showing in the 30 minutes I had there. early morning Saturday 25th February no Goosanders at the "dead end" ie Caldecott road end of Oulton Broad.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Iceland Gull at Lowestoft Fish market

A tour around Lowestoft this morning revealed nothing on Oulton Broad as the water was smothered in boats, you couldn't have put more on there was so many, no waxwings at Oulton broad north and nothing along the River Waveney along Riverside road. 3 Sanderling in the beach corner of Hamilton Dock showed well albeit almost directly into the sunlight. A close Oystercatcher was also seen through the fence too. At Ness Point 8 Purple Sandpiper were on the finger, but were spooked south when a passer-by took off his jacket! They flew north to the rock just 30 yards past the end of Ness Point. I met Danny P and a big, big thankyou for him taking us, (Rob Wil and I) into the Lowestoft Fish market this afternoon, where he drove to an area just before the car- washer place and I saw a group of gulls just in front of us which included a very close adult Iceland Gull! Inevitably they flew (I found a perched Lesser Black- backed Gull and took a few pics) and we eventually located the Iceland Gull on top of the fish market roof, seated just behind a Great Black- backed Gull. Danny went to buy some bread and no sooner had he thrown it down when the Gull flew over including the Iceland Gull that flew round and settled on the ground, it wandered over before flying up the roof once again. Throwing more bread out it flew down again before flying over to the conceret ramp by the fish market where it perched before flying onto an outduct of Ness Point House. Also in the harbour were 2 Shag, 1 around 30 metres out and one really close in the corner. Finally I hope you like the updated and redesigned interface for the website, definitely time for a revamp!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Wild Swans

Just west of Great Yarmouth, I drove today along the A47 and parked at the first layby south of the road and looked across at a group of Swans. At the front of the ploughed field just beyond a meadow I could see (from left to right) 5 Whooper Swans then 2 smaller Bewick's Swans and then another 3 Whooper Swans, 2 sub-adults and i immature, so there were 8 Whooper Swans altogether. They were busy feeding the immature Whooper had brown plumage and the sub- adults had bleached out white instead of the yellow extending triangle on their bills. Next stop, Covehithe church where I counted a flock of 151 lapwing and walking down the path, there was a reasonably confiding immature Brent Goose (dark- bellied variety) feeding at the side of the meadow and the path that transsects. The bird was only 10 metres away and I managed to get a few pics albeit in poor light. The bird was feeding then sat down to have a doze. On Benacre broad itself, I counted 9 Goldeneye (2 males and 7 females) all diving frequently. Up to 4 Little Grebes were seen at the back and west side of the Broad but the hoped for Slav was nowhere to be seen.. I heard a Dunlin-like wader call and I looked up and saw first one and then 2 Sanderling flying low over the Broad and west, this species has become much rarer locally in recent years. A Heron stood at the back with the 180 strong flock of Greylag Geese. A male Marsh Harrier was a surprise (I was expecting a female bird at this time of the year) bird quartering the reeds at the back. Out to sea, around 10 Gannets (9 adults, 1 sub- adult) flew north often at close range. Walking back on the sea, I counted 10 Great Crested Grebe, all singletons doted about plus 5 Red- throated Divers sat on the sea singularly also. 4 Wigeon (2 males and 2 females) seen bobbing up and down on the waves Walking back to Covehithe Chuch, the immature Brent Goose was a little closer to the track, so I took a few more pics albeit in poor light. By the time I drove to Oulton Broad North railway station, the 4 excellent Waxwings were still there, voraciously feeding on crab apples at the side of the south platform, the light was very poor and it started to steadily rain, my cue to leave.

Mutford Short- eared Owl

early evening on Thursday 16th February a Short- eared owl was perced on the far fence and it flew round the meadow and out of sight. It must have been perched on the side postrs because when I walked back it flew over the middle and back of the meadow again. A Woodcock flew up from the middle and flew west.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Song Thrush again

The Song Thrush was in the garden again, at 8am; this time hunting at the back running to the right on characteristic short runs obviously hunting for food. The Thush then ran a little way towards the house on the western most flowerbed and spent some considerable time out of sight behind a bush, so much so that I had to leave at 8.40am to go to work. The Works Bargain Bookstore at Lowestoft now has 4 copies of "Collins Complete Guide to British Garden Wildlife" Photographic Guide at £4.99 each. Highly recommended! (there maybe copies at the Great Yarmouth store too).

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Mass Clear Out!

With the temperatures rising and the thaw truly set in there was larger patches of water around today.
Taking an afternoon's annual leave, first stop Bradwell, no sign of the RS or even the Egyptian Geese, Lound Lakes appeared virtually deserted and still almost completely frozen except for a patch of water near the road for the one by the Ashby turn off, a few Tufted Ducks seen, 8 in all.
The other Lound Lakes were almost completely frozen the"Osprey one" had a fifth of the area as open water and the one east of the Causeway had a small area under the tree dominated by Mallards and 1 Tufted Duck. Oulton Broad was disappointing too, save for the Wood Duck seen on the path by the slipway and 3 Egyptian Geese.
The Anglian water Lake by Gunton Hall now had about a third of the lake with open water and much reduced tally of Gadwall 43 seen, once again the males dominated the females in numerical terms by a ratio of 2:1. 8 Tufted Duck and 5 Mute Swan plus a Little Grebe and 3 Goldcrests heard and 1 seen briefly in flight.
Gunton Hall lake was completely frozen, a Grey Heron stood on the ice, little else seen.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Garden Song Thrush

The Song Thrush was seen perched in the middle tree at the back of our garden early morning and at lunchtime 1.10pm was seen in the tree again. It flew down and fed on some bread by the front western edge of the middle flowerbed, it seemed intrigued when I slowly opened the upstairs window and looked at me curiously as I fired off a few shots (just 6 metres away) of what has sadly become a rare sight in the garden, lets hope this leads to more sightings.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The thaw sets in (eventually)

At Oulton Broad, there was a smallish pool by the yacht club which was full of duck including c50 Tufted Duck. I saw Rob Wil by pets corner and the best bird here was the handsome male Wood Duck feeding on food on the path ahead of us. It was of course completely iced over here too.
From the railway bridge, I could see little on Lake Lothing but by the shore side, 61 Dunlin huddled together with 1 Grey Plover, which promptly took to flight when some dog walkers walked by.
Visiting a very icy Leathes Ham, this morning, I visited the pool to the north of the area where an assotment of duck some 31 Pintail (mostly male with 7 females), Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck were seen in the water and asleep on the ice and including the weird hybrid bird (Tufted X Fudge Duck?) at the back. The redhead Smew was still active swimming at the back, left and right sides and swimming close into the north-west corner again showing well albeit in bad light. She even got up onto the ice on the eaqst side by the edge of the pool and had a quick 40 winks before going back into the water. Amongst the big gulls asleep at the back was the excellent adult Iceland Gull which spent most of its time preening and again mostly back on.
The Iceland Gull stayed quite a while until some stupid teenagers decided to venture out onto the ice. All the Gulls flew including the Iceland.
Big John B, Neville S and Dick W arrived later.
At the Anglian Water Lake opposite Gunton Hall entrance, I counted 131 Gadwall still a good number and 5 Pochard, 5 Wigeon and 30 Tufted Duck, plus 3 Mute Swan and 1 Little Grebe.
Whilst I was here I received a tweet from jeremy G saying he had a BN Grebe showing very well from Gorleston Pier.
By now it was getting noticably less chilly with the temperature gage in the car reading 6 degrees celsius.
When I first arrived, I could see Jeremy G and Ricky F looking out over the south side of Gorleston Pier.
The fantastic Black- necked Grebe was swimming close in just 10 meters away on the sea, creeping close I managed to get some great shots 60 metres from the end of the Pier. By this time we were joined by Paul & Jane and Rob Wil. As always a wonderful bird with prominent red eye and a black spot for the pupil, delicate black upturned bill and the body a ball of fluff. This bird then swam west directly towards Gorleston beach, where it swam about 10 metres off shore before heading north to the breakwater and then retracing its route east on the sea along the south end of the Pier again.
Other observers were excitedly watching the bird too. Looking north from the Pier 3 immature Brent Geese swam along the edge of the water here too.
The Black- necked Grebe was now heading to the open sea and a cargo boat and its pilot pushed the Grebe over the border and further out to sea off Yarmouth harbour. A reasonably close Great Crested Grebe in partial summer plumage swam south across the sea off the end of the Pier.
Between 5 and 5.20pm, I walked over to Fallowfields and immediately saw a Woodcock fly west and over the garden airspace, it appeared to settle in Parkhill Hotel grounds.
Another Woodcock flew west and again over the garden and again settled in Parkhill Hotel grounds. A further bird got up near the north- west wall and the fourth Woodcock was seen in a private garden get up and flying towards Parkhill Hotel grounds.
What a great day and nice to see the sun again!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Iced over

Saturday 11th February, I can honestly say that since Christmas, i haven't taken a single photo with my new lens in sunny weather. Today was the exception. First stop at a very icy Leathes ham with just 2 pools of fresh flowing water along the northern side from an other wise completely frozen area.
As I walked around, the excellent redhead Smew could be seen on the left- hand side of the Pool, before swimming out and being mainly at the back, but after a while she relented and spent a lot of time swimming around the north= west corner barely 5 metres away and we, OFB and I obtained some good shots in good light.
Around 20 Pintail, mostly males were at the back asleep on the ice, but a number of Gadwall and 1 male Wigeon swam close in.
The redhead Smew was diving frequently and often there was weed stuck in its bill.
A look at Oulton Broad and it was completely frozen over, so no Sawbills today there!
getting great advice from OFB, I drove down to the North denes caravan park along swimming pool road and went to reception to ask for permission to drive over the mobile caravan park site. The lady in reception was very nice and said yes, so I drove in and saw instantly 2 Lapwing and 2 Golden Plover, I drove up to the Golden Plover turning the engine off and eventually the Plover ran a little way towards me, I manoeuvred the car to get a good position in the best light and managed to obtain some good shots, especially near the fixed home blocking the concrete road running south. Also just north here near a patch of snow, the other Golden Plover ran towards me a showed well too.
Not to be outdone one of the Lapwings flew in close near the diagonal parking spaces at the end of Swimming Pool road and I was able to get good shots here too, especially of it successfully pulling out a leatherkjacket from the ground, which needed quite a tug before it swallowed its well earned meal!
i also made sure I went back to reception to thank the lady too.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Smew on Leathes Ham

I have been searching for a Smew all week, although I have been at work all week, I have checked local stretches of water, most have been completely frozen, but all without any Smew. Until today, when a tweet from Andrew E had me racing to Leathes Ham after work and at 5.15pm, I arrived but the light was fading rapidly and with dusk approaching, I scanned the area of open unfrozen water and initially I couldn't see it, instead seeing lots of duck especially Pintail where around 20 were seen. Then at the back, behind and island with a cut tree stump amongst the duck, I could see the excellent redhead Smew, with dark red crown and white cheeks. The silhouette was distinctive too in the rapidly fading light. A rare sight record and my first Smew seen here and first in Lowestoft for some time!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Record count of Gadwall

During the late afternoon, in the fading light, checking the Lound lakes; all were completely frozen except an area east of the causeway where 40 Mallard and 1 male Tufted Duck vied for swimming space.
At the "Anglian Water" Lake by the A12 opposite the entrance to Gunton Hall, a really impressive tally of 221 Gadwall were actively feeding and upending in the water (in the third of the lake which was not frozen), easily the highest count I've had at this location and indeed anywhere in Lowestoft! 5 Wigeon, 5 Pochard and 1 Little Grebe and 2 Mute Swans were also seen in the water too.

Trio of Bullfinches

The marvellous Bullfinches have been visiting the garden regularly (4 occasions once every 20 minutes or so) this morning, first the pair (the male and female) and then all 3 Bullfinches (male and 2 females) keep returning to the Cherry tree to feed on the sprouting buds!
One of the females has been feeding from the front branches and the male has proved quite showy too.
A Song Thrush flew into the garden and fed underneath the pagoda area. Up to 4 Wood Pigeons have been in feeding on the berries of the Holly bush. The Green Woodpecker was perched up against a verticle branch in the middle of Fallowfields.
Jay seen too.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Frozen Out!

On Monday 6th February, a Snipe flew west over the Gapton Hall roundabout at 8.50am as i was travelling to Great Yarmouth Library.

Today, 7th February, the female Bullfinch was perched in the Cherry tree at 7.50am in the garden.
Glancing over as I drove past Ormesby/ Rollesby Broad, travelling to Martham Library, revealed both Broads were frozen with just a small patch of open water near the feeding area on ormesby broad which included several female Pochards c8.
A quick half hour lunchbreak visit to Burgh castle end of Breydon water failed to reveal any Twite, although could have been disturbed by a jogger who ran ahead of me and then came back 10 minutes later and another walker just ahead too 2 Linnets were feeding along the usual area. Several Bar- tailed Godwits seen, at least 2 on the estuary and a further 2 in flight. The estuary channel was quite low, low tide and in the distance (half way between Burgh castle and the Pump house) by some buoys I could see 4 Goosanders, 2 fine males and 2 females, a jogger in luminous green jacket ran ahead of me and flushed them further out onto the estuary. Masses of c600 Wigeon seen and these flew up in a state of panic when first a female Marsh harrier quartered the estuary and then a Peregrine swooped down low to catch a bird but missed on this occasion.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

4 inches of snow!

Woke up this morning to see the garden and the Close covered in 4 inches of snow. 2 Bullfinches (male and female)- visiting as a couple once on separately on the other occasions the female the more frequent visitor; are regularly visiting again this morning eating the buds off the Cherry tree. Other birds in the garden include 15 Black- headed Gulls landing in the garden plus a 1st winter Common Gull, the first time I have seen either off these species perched in the garden, they were after the bread I had put out! Up to 6 Chaffinch (4 males and 2 females), 4 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Collared Doves, 2 Robins, 4 Blackbirds and the 3 Starling have been flying over too, plus a Pied Wagtail flew oveer south.
A check of Fallowfields revealed 4 Bullfinches flying away but no Woodcock seen today so far.
Later on some children wandered onto the Fallowfields waste ground and half way along near the edge of the road, they disturbed a Woodcock that flew low and west.
I then drove over to Oulton Broad and parking at Pets corner, I saw the excellent female Goosander resting on the jetty barely 3 metres away by the rowing club slipway. It spent most of its time asleep and seeing Morris B, I left him with it while I put some money in the parking machine. Big mistake, as it had woken up and swam away in my absence. Meanwhile some Mallard swimming towards us included the fine male Wood Duck which swam over and under the jetty.
Walking around by the Boat club, a newly arrived of 18 Pochard were seen. At the bowl by the Mutford Lock Bridge, a Lapwing, Snipe and 33 Dunlin were seen on the far muddy bank. Whilst walking along over towards the railway bridge, we saw up to 4 Grey Plover, 2 were very confiding, 2 Golden Plover, 6 Dunlin, a Kingfishersped past flying left and from the bridge, a Shag was seen where we also saw Rob Wil and Andrew E.
Walking back to Oulton Broad, 1 Dunlin was particularly confiding, whilst the flock had increased to 40 Dunlin back at the bowl. 20 Tufted Duck also seen.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hard Weather Birding

Waking up to the first snow fall of the year, really just a light dusting. Lots of birds were in the garden early morning including Bullfinches, first there was a female, the both the male and female and then 3 birds; 1 male and 2 females. The visited every 20 minutes or so on seven different occasions. The male often feeding on the buds at the front of tree. The 2 females were slightly less showy.
A walk over Fallowfields revealed 2 Woodcock; 1 flushed from the base of a bush in the middle and another bird flew up from the private gardens just west of Fallowfields.
A tweet from Jane and I was off to Leathes Ham, where the adult Iceland Gull was seen on the ice, usually unfortunately back on and preening. Up to 3 male Pintail were also very close as was a perched female. A Wigeon seen also and male Tufted Duck. A Woodcock flew east behind us.
Dick, Rene, Paul & Jane were also seen here.
Next stop Riverside road, where the excellent Black- throated Diver was on the river straight out but never my side of the river sadly. The excellent Peregrine was seen briefly perched on its perch on the west face of the Grain silo. 2 Shag and 2 Cormorant were seen also. From Asda the river was very low and on the exposed mud on the south side were 2 Dunlin and 5 Redshank.
At the North Denes caravan park, on the south side, I spotted 3 Golden Plover and 1 Dunlin just 10 metres away. The Plovers were running a short way then feeding, 1 bird plucked out and devoured a really long worm.
There was nothing on the Oval and I walked along the entire North beach and Gunton beach and no Auks were seen alive or dead. an adult Mediterranean Gull in winter plumage flew over several times north the south then north again, probably the same bird and this bird has spared my blushes as this is my first Suffolk one for this year! But I did see a flock of 130 Brent Geese flying south right over my head over Gunton Beach and then 9 Brent Geese flew south a little later. Whilst walking along the Links road wall, I inadvertently flushed a Dunlin that must have been huddle close to the wall. It flew a little way over to the dunes and settled down near some marram grass and taking great care not to disturb it I managed to get a few shots of this bird as it sat down.
Popping into Warren House Wood, I flushed 4 Woodcock, the first flew up from the middle part of the wood near the western fence, the second I could have predicted as it was the spot up the hill on the southern side where I have seen Woodcock on three previous occasions. The next one got up near the pillbox in the middle of the wood and the final one flew up near the north eastern edge. My tally of Woodcock was seven in total for the day.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Return to Burgh Castle

Another quick lunchtime trip, the weather was really sunny, I met Perry F again walking back he said the Twite were much further along the path, about 500 yards along between the 2 kissing gates. Walking up, cloud suddenly blotted out the sun, typical! I saw a Dunlin, several Redshanks and several 7 Rock Pipits. past the first kissing gate, I could see a flock of 60 Black- tailed Godwits on the estuary water just 15 metres away.
Between the 2 kissing gates, suddenly 5 passerines flew up calling from the path, they gave a Linnet calls flew over the fields and eventually settled in the same place, I could clearly see 2 of their number and they had steel grey bills, they were Linnets, 5 Linnets.
Walking back along the path just 100 yards from the entrance gate, the 5 excellent Twite were perched on the mud by the shoreline. Whilst on the east side a Kingfisher flew low and north over the dyke.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Garden & Estuary Visitors

It was really nice to see a Song Thrush feeding in the western border of our garden today at 8.05am. First one in the garden since early winter 2011.
A look out at Burgh Castle at lunchtime from 1.15 to 1.45pm revealed the 5 excellent Twite feeding along the west bank of the track around 300 yards up from the church, I saw Perry F who used his fieldcraft to get close to the birds and they flew south around 50 yards where we were both able to obtain some shots as they fed reasonably close to us. One Twite was perched up quite high on a weedy bush (2 later joined it) and sported a really yellow bill and chestnut face, my best shot of it was the last one I took using manual focus as the automatic auto- focus sensor was going haywire on the camera today!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Bullfinch over

At 8.35am this morning as I was filling up the bird feeders, a calling male Bullfinch flew over in a north- easterly direction.