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Monday, 31 March 2014

Finally some Spring Migrants!

On Monday 31st March, with the benefit of the clock's going forward on the previous day I took advantage of the lighter nights to look at Ness Point for some migrants that had been reported earlier. Looking from the western end, all I initially saw was a Robin in the Turbine Yard. A look at Ness Point revealed that it was very low tide, so no chance of seeing the Purple Sands (I hadn't seen them all week despite having a week's leave checking round the local area- Denes and Ness Point had been totally bird less). I always find it very difficult in seeing any Wheateras or Black reds in March, much easier in April! I then walked around the eastern side of the Turbine yard and by the rocky area by all the bric a brad, a female Black Redstart was seen. Whilst at the northern end, a fine male Wheatear was seen and it flew to the rocky area not far from the Black Redstart.

Two- barred or not Two- barred at Lynford Arboretum, that is the question?

On Saturday 29th John H and I went to Lynford Arboretum in the hope of seeing some Two- barred Crossbills. Initially we didn't see very much but in some Pines near the car park we heard Firecrests singing and then first 1 then 2 Firecrests were seen flitting around here flying another tree and then further back, as usual a real gem of a bird and my first sighted at this location. At 9.40 we left for a location just north of here where we parked the car half way along the road overlooking a field with a large row of trees beyond it was here that we saw 3 Buzzards and with them an acceptor almost as large, a superb female Goshawk it flew ever higher and then flew strongly right and then swooped down into the trees. Whilst behind us, another couple of Buzzards were seen and flying with them was a Peregrine Falcon Whilst looking forward first one then 2 Goshawks got up and flew towards us and over the road and then over the trees at the back before, a female Goshawk flew right overhead albeit silhouetted in the strong light. She then flew over the woods and eventually out of sight. Whilst behind us, we had been hearing snatches of the Wood Larks song, when by the edge of the field we saw the excellent Wood Lark, (my first for 2 years as I didn't see on last year) characteristically short -tailed in flight flying along the dye of the field, occasionally obscured by the trees foliage. We drove back to Lynford, looking back into the tunnel, we first saw a male and a female Hawfinch feeding at the left and right at the back. 1 Treecreeper fed by the feeders. A chap came along saying the Crossbills were seen in the trees by the woods, just before and left of the bridge. Seeing all the birders, the Crossbills around 40 seen, were eventually sighted and I am grateful for views through Dick F's and Dereham Ian's scope where I saw brief views of either the 1st winter male Two- barred Crossbill or hybrid (the same bird we had seen before Christmas) perched just left of a thick trunk. Back at the tunnel we saw up to 4 Hawfinches, feeding mainly at the back, I spent some time here and was eventually rewarded when once a bird flew to the feed to bring from the water bowl area. A Redwing was seen at the back and at the sides a Nuthatch fed at the back of the feeders. We left at 3.40pm pity we didn't stay a little longer as the 3 undisputed TBC's flew in.

Minsmere Fudge Duck

On Thursday 27th March a trip to Minsmere in the hope of photographing Bitterns revealed a superb male Ferruginous Duck at the Island Mere. The bird spent most of its time in the far left hand corner of the Mere associating m,mainly with Tufted Ducks, seen albeit against strong sunlight it spent most of its time before it swam out to the middle and then reasonably close to the hide. 2 Snipe were seen on the ground too. Several Marsh Harriers, 2 males and 1 female were seen quartering the reeds. Sadly no Bitterns seen yet alone photographed. Later on a walk around the Denes and Ness Point only revealed 13 Turnstones at the Point.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Garganey duo & Dusky again

A pleasant but cold walk down to the Carlton Marshes Scrape, I saw Chris M who'd just seen the Garganey. Looking from the Mound, I initially could seen no sign, I was joined by Neville L and he couldn't see them either. We saw a pair of Gadwall and male Teal plus a Little Egret. It wasn't until Robert H walked up he spotted them on a grassy spit, they just walked into view, the fine male and female Garganey. They spent most of their time walking in out of view on the grassy spit and later on they had walked around 100 yards over to the right. We then went to Fisher Row and at the spot we met Andrew E, Robs Wil & Win, James W, Paul & Jane and others. The bird had been seen again. I saw a movement and low on the left of the bush, the excellent Dusky Warbler was seen sitting on a branch and showed well for me for a good minute and a half (perhaps payback for the time spent over the previous few days?) before it moved back. Viewing the east side of these line of bushes from the tea garden path, I first saw a Treecreeper scaling one of the trunks of these bushes and then a Chiff- Chaff moving through the bushes prompted the Dusky Warbler to chase it off and then it moved right through the bushes between a dead tree and a broken tea stump.

Very elusive Dusky

On Thursday 20th March, a very early start 6am at Oulton Marshes or Fisher Row revealed 2 Redwing perched on top of 2 tall trees by the "Bowl" opposite the Old Tea Gardens path. Up to 5 Chiff- Chaff were seen singing through the visit too. Eventually locating the mega elusive Dusky Warbler (heard only) to a row of bushes extending south from 2/3 way along the path, I heard the disinctive "tak" call 3X in quick succession at 7.30pm but failed to see it and had to leave at 7.40am I saw Tony B and showed him where to look, 5 minutes later he saw it! On Friday 21st March, I arrived again early and heard it again "takking" 8.30am but just couldn't see the bird. Although I saw a bird flitting around way back in the bushes which could have been it. A Chiff- Chaff moved through the bush. I was joined by Don & Gwen and at 9.15 we heard a constant "taking" but we still couldn't see it. The calls were getting louder it was getting closer and we still couldn't see it until Gwen saw a movement to the left of the bush. I picked it up at 9.20am and finally after 5.5 hours of looking, I saw a grey bird fly and perched near the top of the bush, it showed out in the open for all of 5 seconds but enough to confirm it was the excellent Dusky Warbler showing dark eyestripe and white supercilia. It then flitted back and out of sight, time to go to work!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Garden Wildlife

The sunny weather heralded the first sighting of a Comma butterfly in the garden today, Sunday 16th March. Whilst a Chiff- Chaff was heard calling from Fallowfields. In the pond, the Frogs were mating again and even more Frogspawn was seen.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

100,000 views thank you

Wow, 100,000 views for the website and counting, thank you for taking the time to read the blog.

Glorious Spring day

Monday 3rd March whilst recuperating in the garden I was fortunate to see 2 Frogs copulating in the wildlife pond in the north western corner. Sunday the 9th March was a glorious Spring day with wall to wall sunshine and the temperature at almost 20 degrees celsius. 2 Small Tortoiseshells were feeding in the gardening and bathing on the concrete patio by the kitchen In the local wood, 3 superb Adders were seen in the nearby wood in the usual place. A fine Brimstone butterfly flew by and briefly settled on a discarded blue crisp packet discarded by a litter lout (take it home or put in the bin!) I met Andrew E and the 2 Robs who showed me where they were but as soon as they left the Adders left too so no pictures this time, I'm afraid. I met a third Rob (Rob M) and later I made my way to Ness Point and eventually picked up the female Black Redstart perched on top of the Gas blue tank in the compound thanks to the sharp eyes of Andrew E. At the local place I checked all 4 sides and eventually saw what I though was a female Peregrine on the North side. Up to 5 Frogs in the garden on Sunday too. Tuesday 12 March great news, (as a result of 3rd March, finally spotted some Frog spawn in the goldfish pond. I'll transfer this to the wildlife pond so that the Goldfish don't gorge themselves on the spawn!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Adders survive for now

I plucked up the courage to walk down and see for myself today, Sunday 2nd March, the devastation needlessly inflicted on one of the tracks down at a local wooded area, why prime habitat such as the glorious heather areas was trampled under the digger wheels I will never know? I guess its just ignorance. It highlights the importance of these areas being managed by wildlife organisations who know what they are doing. On the way in, no Crossbills of any description were seen either by the log piles or elsewhere in the Forest I was delighted to see a group of 5 early Adders, all males, (with thick black wavy band down the back and not brown) just out of their hibernation basking in the early March sun. They had miraculously escaped being squashed by the heavy machinery employed so recklessly in this area. They characteristically flattened their bodies on the ground therefore increasing the surface area to make the most of the warming sun's rays. It was a real joy to see them, but I fear for them over the coming few months. Where is the habitat (i.e. the thick swathes of heather and cover to hide in) where they can hunt, hide and thrive in? Only small swathes of heather survive from the brutal onslaught. The area is so much more open and they will be more prone to disturbance from walkers and especially their dogs, which should really be kept on a lead (for their own safety) in this area. For now, the Adders were lying together, blissfully unaware of the hardships they face during this coming season, 3 Adders were all coiled up together, their heads poking out in different directions and 2 others nearby. Looking back, I was surprised to see a Roe Deer run and hop across the wide area and it some woodland. Back at the car park, I noted 3 Coal Tits and a Blue Tit. Driving back to Ashby Dell, a fine male Bullfinch flew across the road from right to left.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Trio of Med Gulls

After the rain had stopped I drove down to Links Road car park today, Saturday 1st March, there was a distinct nip in the air. Amongst a large group of Gulls (mostly BH but also Herring Gulls and a Common Gull) were 3 Mediterranean Gulls. The most obvious was a black hooded adult which sat on the ground. It was in sufficiently advanced summer plumage with white eye half crescents bordering the eye. Whilst I also saw 2 standing 2nd winter (but starting the transition to summer plumage) These birds were quite jittery and I managed a few shots from the mobile hide that is my car, until 2 girls jumped around and spooked all the birds. Nearby at Warren House Wood I bumped into Paul & Jane F and together we heard and then saw a vociferous Chiff- Chaff fly into the wood. Despite checking the wood thoroughly and the Holm Oak copse just 50 yards north of here I was unable to find anything else.