Thursday, 28 November 2013
The transitional plumaged now 1st winter Rose- coloured Starling or (Rosy pasteur as they have been rather evocatively called- but only applicable to the adult) now showing more 1st winter plumage rather than the drab pale juvenile plumage was seen briefly perched on wires in the company of 4 Starlings, just east of the Caister Beach car park. A very interesting looking bird showing some adult feathers, for example, it showed black greater coverts, black on one each of the tertials and primaries. On the upper breast it was black too with a black wedge across reminiscent of the white chevron the Ring Ouzel sports on its chest. When 2 Starlings flew north I wasn't too optimistic about photographing it and this was proved correct when a minute or so later it flew a little way north and out of sight. Despite checking a load of Starlings around the Tan Lane chip shop area I didn't refind it in the 40 minutes I had left.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Sunday, 24 November 2013
I had been planning to visit the Parrot Crossbills at Holt for sometime and an offer of a lift today, Sunday 24th November, with OFB was gratefully accepted. As we drove up to Acle the weather really closed in with thick black cloud and steady rain. A tweet came through that yesterday's Parrot Crossbills at Tunstall were still there. A quick call to Carl B revealed the weather was much better in Suffolk, so we turned around and diverted via Poringland, Bungay and Halesworth and just 3 1/2 miles past Snape we turned left (by the black barn) by the sign pointing us to Tunstall Common carpark and we were soon parked up in a heath with heather and some Pine trees. They were initially in a large Pine and I saw a Crossbill type bird fly quickly past a gap before all 10 Parrot Crossbills (8 males and 2 females) all flew up calling a deep " Chuup chuup" and flew to the top of a smaller stand of pines 100 yards further south. One fine male Parrot Crossbill perched on the top with a few more seen further down. The large bulging bills was clearly seen. I walked over to obtain close views. It was here they spent the entire time in a stand of some 7 Pine trees in front of us. They would often completely disappear from view and we were grateful for the male they continued to perch at the very top. Just under him and to the left a grey green female fed from within a "dark hole" area. For the next few hours birds were seen feeding within several "dark hole" areas, often obscured and seen feeding behind pine cones or the pine needles. It was also apparent that these Parrots would often pull off Pine cones and hold them firmly in their substantial bills. As we continued to observe the odd male, paler immatures and adult male perched out completely in the open from time to time. The Parrot Crossbills differed from ordinary Crossbills in appearing slightly bigger with significant bull necks. They had very thick bulging bills being as wide as they were long and the lower mandible showing a distinct "S" curve on the top leading edge. Plumage wise the rear of the ear coverts, "neck" and shoulders" were greyer than ordinary Crossbills and the call occasionally heard was a deeper "chuup chuup" call. When finally the sun came out the birds appeared as if by magic with 3 together (all males) with an adult male just below and just below and left of that an immature male and near the top left a female Parrot Crossbill. Managed to get a few shots too, albeit at not very close range. It was fantastic to see these birds after a 30 year gap, the last ones I saw were the breeders at Wells Wood in Norfolk, way back in 1982! Also a really great addition to my Suffolk list, my second of the year following the Trimley Pacific Swift in the spring! A Kestrel hunted on the common nearby. Later on at 2.30pm I checked the stubble field just east of the old Sewage works and just a few yards east of the OSW 2 birds flew up calling the distinctive "pprrrt" call revealed them as 2 Lapland Buntings. They flew towards the cliff top path area, from here they flew to the field just south of here and whilst walking along the cliff top path, first one and then 2 of the Buntings flew low just past us and north and settled by the central path leading east. From here I saw 1 Lapland Bunting perched in the grassy tramline area it turned left showing it was quite a well marked bird before darting in the central stubble where I was happy to leave it.
On Saturday 23rd November, a no show (for me during a 2 hour steak out for the Glaucous Gull) meant I didn't see much of avian interest in Hamilton Dock, however there was a Common Seal lying on the beach, it launched itself in the water and often arched its back in the water and sticking its head vertically upwards out of the water many times before it eventually hauled itself onto the beach. The dock worker mistakenly thought it was ill and the moment a ladder went onto the beach the seal looked around then frantically started to get itself into the water where it again swam off and eventually hauled itself onto the far beach. A look over at Ness Point saws very close feeding Purple Sandpiper feeding in good light on the rocks just a few feet away from the compass circle. The excellent light revealed the magical purple sheen on its plumage, giving the birds it's name. A real treat to see this rarely seen feature. Nearby on the defence rocks by the ledge were a further 9 roosting Purple Sandpipers. These wonderful waders are always a delight to see.
Thursday, 21 November 2013
On Tuesday 19th November an extended luchbreak saw me at the Dock, where the 1st winter Glaucous Gull was seen again bathing, light was again poor. On Thursday 21st November, during late morning I again saw the Glaucous Gull in Hamilton Dock, it was initially there but judicious throwing of both bread and chicken attracted first Black- headed Gulls then Herring Gulls and finally the 1st winter Glaucous Gull came flying in. The light was still an issue as the sun was directly at us. The Glaucous Gull flew round but always appeared silhouetted when it came close. After a while it flew off. A mini- sea watch at a wind swept Ness Point, there was a strong north- west wind with the waves crashing over the rocks ar regular intervals, none of the hoped for Little Auks so far but it was a good sea watch with Danny P & Gus. The sea watch revealed, firstly a group of 22 Eider flying north in a group then a line with 7 adult males. A little later, a further group of 20 Eiders included 2 adult males and 1 sub- adult male. 2 Gannets also flew north. 2 Scoters also flew north, the first, a female Common Scoter and the second a fine white- wing panelled Velvet Scoter.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
A much better day today, Sunday 17th November following a horrendous last few days. A look at Gunton Warren along the cliff top revealed 2 chacking Fieldfares from a tree by Corton road along the southern edge. A look down at the sea revealed a fast swimming female Common Scoter swimming quickly north. Seeing Rob Wil & Roob Win, they suggested going along the clip top to look for the Dartford. I initially had no luck but when I bumped into Paul & Jane, Paul W & one other all stood in a line, I joined them overlooking the new path and the laid out scrub edge, the Dartford Warbler was seen briefly flitting about before it flew up into the branches of a small bare tree where it showed well here for just over a minute before it flew left. A text stating the Glaucous was back and we drove down to Hamilton Dock, where the fine 1st winter Glaucous Gull, was seen swimming around very close to the north east corner giving superlative views. A typical 1st winter with biscuit coloured plumage, quite dark face, pale whitish wing tips and diagnostic pink/ black bi-cloured bill. The bird spent a lot of time swimming around the other herring Gulls feeding on the bread and discounted chicken scraps thrown by the birders! The bird would occasionally swim over to the left and then swim back to the right desperate for the food being thrown onto the water. 2 Rock pipits were seen too. Later seeing Phil J he casually mentioned that he'd just seen 3 Velvet Scoters off Gorleston cliffs. I decided to give it a try. At Gorleston Cliffs, viewing from the extreme south end of the car park I was astonished to see a really large flock of 459 Common Scoters initially in a large flock with a separate group of 32 Common Scoters. Looking closer still I suddenly spotted the distinctive silhouette of first one then 3 then 3 Velvet Scoters with more triangular knobbly heads, 2 white spots on the head and the distinctive white wing clip of 3 fine Velvet Scoters, they led the flock south, dived and surfaced together and it was great to spot them in the gloom (3.20pm on a very cloudy afternoon.
Saturday, 9 November 2013
On Saturday 9th November, just before the rain, I walked over to Fallowfields and taking the northern most path going west, at 1.25pm, a Woodcock suddenly flew up from the north west corner and flew over towards Parkhill Hotel grounds. Looking back on Tuesday 5th November, Firework night, I had spotted a Peacock butterfly flying around the Library at work at about 5.20pm, flying over to the Mezzanine floor but then it flew down towards the Journals sitting area where it had disappeared. It was really imperative that I caught it as it wouldn't survive in the "warm" Library this winter. So I was delighted to be informed by my colleague on Friday 8th November, that the same Peacock butterfly was sunning itself by the window doors facing the Sandra Chapman centre. I managed to catch it safely and released it unharmed in our garage back at Lowestoft ready for it to hibernate for the winter, complete with a supply of fresh nettles just in case it fancied a snack!