Sunday, 30 December 2012
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, 10 December 2012
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
Saturday, 8 December 2012
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
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.