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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

East Norfolk Goodies: Ibis Duo at Martham et al

A very enjoyable day's A/L today, Wednesday 29th January, a trip to East Norfolk. First stop was Cess road, Martham and I parked up and walk the 50 yards down to the end of the road and then carried on a further 50 yards east along the river bank. Looking west over some fields where amazingly the 2 Glossy Ibis were constantly feeding around 7 to 10 metres away. They were in a loose fenced enclosure, the 2 Ibis's fed here just metres away from 5 photographers stood by the fence gleefully snapping away, although the light could have been much better. They (The Ibis!) then walked over to the next door field through the open gate. There were two birds one was was around 10% smaller than the other with a light brown cast on its wings. They fed quite well and I even photographed one gorging on an unfortunate worm. Next stop was Horsey Mere and was unable to look from the usual southerly viewpoint due to the recent flood surge. I took the northerly route and from the path I could look over the Mere, seeing some birders they said they had seen the 3 Smew and the BT Diver was viewable apparently from the N Broad, the first of that species seen on the Mere since 1950's! I scanned and couldn't see any but another scan revealed a single redhead Smew on her own whilst over to the left were 2 long rafts of duck, the nearest one was half the length of the furthest one and scanning through these, I eventually spotted the second redhead Smew amongst this raft. I was walking back when I met when Geoff and his wife from Beccles and went back to show them where the female Smew were, having shown them the Smew on its own at the back, I suddenly spotted a Diver flying in from the west towards us, It had a very grey slightly bulging upper neck and it landed showing an extensive white rear flank patch and medium bill, it was the excellent Black- throated Diver which had flown in (presumably from the North Broad) and it started to swim towards the nearest Broad edge and was eventually totally obscured by the reeds and we didn't see it again. A great sighting and just reward for my good deed of the day! Drving back just past Brograve farm still around the Waxham end, I looked west and could see 3 Cranes in the distance flying north and they landed somewhere out of sight from the road. Whilst driving along the Horsey strait 500 yards south of the mill, I looked left/ east and saw 2 Cranes on the fields, I stopped the car and scanning there were another 2 Cranes behind them, I photographed the closer pair as they were feeding and walking right/ south all the time. 4 Cranes seen along the Horsey fields and 7 Cranes seen in total.Parking at Great Yarmouth opposite the Imperial Hotel, I was going to try and tackle the daunting task of searching for the Shore Larks in the Dunes or the beach, with a bitter raw moderate but bitterly cold east wind blowing. On the beach stood a small group of Gulls included several BH Gulls and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls. Whilst flying north over the sea was another adult Mediterranean Gull. Walking further north along the beach, I heard the call of a wader and spotted a single Sanderling close by. I met 2 lady birders and we promised to let each other know if anyone spotted the Shore Larks. After around 20 minutes I was following them walking back resigned to not seeing the Larks when they waved me over, I walked over to the dunes very close to the Coffee Shack, which must have been around 300 yards north of the Imperial Hotel, really close to the road and concrete walkway. The 2 excellent Shore Larks were constantly feeding, the ladies eventually left and I was crouched down and amazingly the Shore Larks started running towards me and I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots (including the sub header shot above). They then ran eastwards along the side of the dune following the large sandy track towards the beach were I was happy to leave them. Walking back I noted a flock of 5 Sky Larks.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Ibis and Sibes at Oulton Marshes

A look down Oulton Marshes on saturday 25th January from 10.30am revealed little initially but a good scan of the reeds for some 30 minutes and willow scrub just behind and slightly left of the viewing platform eventually revealed first one then 2 suddenly materialised as if from nowhere, they were the 2 excellent Siberian Chiff- Chaffs, they moved through the lower margins of the Willow Scrub, with one working itself to the top whilst another worked its way too the base and was seen in full view here at the base showing well for several minutes. Very grey looking birds without a hint of olive or green in the plumage. They disappeared as quickly as they had appeared and one was seen ten minutes later for a few seconds only. Great to finally see these birds especially as I had probably seen one the previous weekend but not enough to conclusively ID it and a personal first on my old patch. Meanwhile on the marshes, I couldn't initially see the Glossy Ibis but it was seen half way out with some Wigeon, and I counted 239 Wigeon in total. The Glossy Ibis flew lot closer and fed a while before the Wigeon it was accompanying took flight and the Ibis flew to the back of the marshes again. By the fence line a Pipit flew out and I checked this and it proved to be a Meadow Pipit it showed well in the grass just beyond the fence line. Whilst walking back a Grey Heron walked right across the middle of a field. Checking the avenue of alders, as the sun came out a big group of birds included Long- tailed Tits, Goldfinches, Tits including 1 Coal Tit and then on the corner I spotted first 3 and later 5 Lesser Redpoll feeding on the Alder seeds at the very top of the Alder trees. walking further down the avenue, a Treecreeper spiralled around the trunk of a tree. A look in Corton Woods in the afternoon failed to reveal the Nuthatch or Firecrests, a Great- spotted Woodpecker seen at the northern end but bumping into regular correspondent Paul W and Paul & Jane in the north of the woods, a fine Woodcock suddenly got up at about 2.30pm and flew past us and north west past the woods and the north facing gardens. A minute later Andrew E joined us and it was good to get all the latest news and catch up with a fine group of birders.

RSPB Garden Birdwatch 25th January

A look between 9 and 10am in the garden revealed 2 fine male Bullfinches again feeding on the buds of the cherry tree, again visiting to take advantage of the tree budding. a lone male visited again throughout the day at 10, 1 and 1.15pm. Also seen were 3 Chaffinces (2 males and a female), 3 Greenfinches, Robin, 2 hedge Sparrow, 3 LT Tits, 3 Great Tit and 2 Blue Tit also seen were 2 Blackbird and Wood Pigeon asleep on the pagoda top with Collared Dove flying over the garden.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Unlucky for some!

On Saturday 18th January a record tally of 5 Bullfinch (3 males, 2 females) seen on Cherry tree in garden just after midday feeding on emerging buds, (they only usually visit in Jan)! On Sunday 19th January just after midday I walked down to Oulton Marshes, a very poor visit as I failed to see the Glossy Ibis this time, although it may have been feeding in a ditch out of sight. I also saw a dark grey- looking Chiff- Chaff type (but did not see it well enough to conclusively identify it) which may have been the Siberian Chiff- Chaff?, fly up from the reeds behind the viewing platform and appeared to fly over the river was the only other bird seen. Walking back up the entrance hill, I heard tapping in stereo and saw 2 Great- spotted Woodpeckers perched high up along the side of the trunks of 2 adjacent trees. On Wednesday 22nd January, around midday, a female Bullfinch again seen in the garden feeding on the buds of the Cherry tree. Around 2pm, on a brief visit to Ness Point, at high tide a tally of 13 Purple Sandpipers, my highest of the winter so far, were seen feeding on the finger at Ness Point, initially 3 of their number were asleep and were incredibly close being only 2 metres away, they eventually woke up and flew over and joined the other 10.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Mistle Thrush

On Thursday 16th January at lunchtime, a rattling Mistle Thrush flew north across the track down to Forest Lodge.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Iceland Gull at Sizewell

Having to visit Broomfield Hospital at Chelmsford on Monday 13th January. I was able to quickly visit Sizewell early on, as I walked onto the beach by the rig not, a lot was seen but at the second southerly post with a yellow triangle on it and several Cormorants perched on the top, loads of Gulls were wheeling around here c120 and amongst them I spotted the excellent pale biscuit coloured immature 1st winter Iceland Gull all seemingly flying around anti- clockwise around the post, the Iceland Gull was showing its white primaries. The Iceland Gull then settled onto the sea on the left hand/ northern end of the group that settled on the sea. It then flew towards me and flew right over the beach and south at around 9.20am.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Parrot Crossbill at Fritton success!

I attended a special memorial service celebrating 200 years (+ 1 day!) since the birth of James Paget and I visited Fritton at 2.30pm. No sooner had I walked to Forest Lodge when a flock of 20+ Crossbill, bang on cue, flew into to the tops of the trees. I noticed a slightly larger bull- headed individual generally green plumage with some grey around the face and nape, and big bill an excellent female Parrot Crossbill flew in by the pines by Forest Lodge. The female Parrot Crossbill opened her big bill and pulled a pine cone off the tree and held in her mouth for much of the period of observation. I watched her for several minutes amongst the Croosbills where I must have checked around 12 of the 20+ that flew in. They flew south towards the clearing and later flew back to the Pines and then flew west back to the Pines and then 12 flew back towards the main car park area.The flock flew around a bit. From the mound overlooking Haddiscoe marshes, a fine distant Short- eared Owl patrolled the fields. 2 female Marsh Harrier seen plus a Buzzard sp. flying towards us it crossed the river and over Waveney Forest finally revealed itself as an excellent Rough- legged Buzzard, with white tail black band, pale head and dark lower belly. Around 3 Chinese Water Deer seen and a flock of 400+ Pink- footed Geese flew north. Finally, a superb Bittern flew south and left down the river before pitching back into the reeds. Despite staying until dusk no Woodcock or Barn Owl were seen however. But I was very pleased with my Fritton visit today, adding another special to my Lizard/ Lowestoft area list!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Mixed Bag

On Saturday 11th January I was attending a special conference at the Hospital but was able to pop out between 10.15 and 4pm, driving to Great Yarmouth, the Ibis had flown so I went to Acle Bridge and could initially see no sign of the Cranes. Driving to Yarmouth again for the returned Ibis, but sadly dog walkers had flushed it off again, so I went onto Hickling Rush Hills scrape where there wasn't even a Teal present so dipped on the GWTeal, not a good start. A tweet from Carl had me driving back to Acle Bridge and seeing several cars by a barn just east of the bridge and a tweet from Jane I diverted back and had excellent views of the 2 Cranes at the edge of the field and they were quite close and would have made my best pictures yet but no camera!!! Jane & Paul F, OFB and a departing Steve S & Dot were in attendance. We then drove back to Ludham airfield and we saw a group of around 117 Bewick's Swans with at least 9 Whooper Swans in attendance too. On the far left of the group they were 5 immatures Whooper Swans showing, with up 11 seen in total. Several around 1/4 of the Bewick's were sitting down and none of the ones standing showed yellow legs. Back at Buckenham meeting up with Paul & Jane again around 129 White- fronted Geese seen at the back. By a closer pool amongst Lapwing were at least 3 Ruff walking around. We also tried looking at Cantley, again there was a big flock of White fronted Geese, around 30 Barnacles and 40 Canada plus an odd looking hybrid that may have been Canada X Bar- headed Goose but alas no Beans. I had to leave to to go back to the conference for 4pm and sadly my shoes had become a little muddy and Jane very kindly volunteered to clean one of them with wet wipes while I did the other, amid much hilarity (I can confirm we had not visited any pubs/ beer festivals immediately prior to this!)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Kessingland Sewage Works

On Wednesday 8th January, TOIL from work in the morning meant I was able to have a quick visit to Kessingland Sewage works, it was a gusty morning and at the start of the Sewage works, a fine female Bullfinch was seen in the hedge briefly. Lots of Tits moved through including Blue and Long- tailed Tits. By the hedgerow bordering the sewage beds, 2 Chiff- Chaff flitted about and 22 Pied Wagtails seen on the sewage beds themselves. I kept scanning the scrub on the left, a Chiff- Chaff seen again and a charm of around 12 Goldfinches flew into the scrub, but still no sign of the Firecrest and I was about to leave after an hour when I heard the distinctive call and up popped a fine Firecrest briefly in the scrub on the left. I watched for a couple of minutes, always active and on the move before it disappeared from view. Another final look on the sewage beds and I was rewarded with a view of a Grey Wagtail on the northern edge of the northern sewage bed. A look at Ness Point at low tide failed to reveal any Purple Sands. Work beckoned!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Rough- Leg & Velvets

Look out from the rapidly diminishing Fritton Woods, the excellent Rough- legged Buzzard was seen on a gate on haddiscoe island, but it eventually flew towards us. It then settled on a post a little nearer. Meanwhile a really fine striking male Hen Harrier flew over the river and left right in front of us.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Common Scoter flock

At lunchtime today again in worsening weather 1.10 - 1.30pm today, I noted a flock of 140 Common Scoter on the sea off Gorleston cliffs, in the choppy seas I couldn't make out any velvets and all the Scoters that flew were definitely Common Scoter. An adult winter plumage Mediterranean Gull flew south too.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Birding Mecca: Birds & Wildlife of Lesvos tomorrow St Mark's Church, Oulton Broad 7.30pm

I am giving a talk on "Birding Mecca: Birds & Wildlife of Lesvos" tomorrow Friday 3rd November at St Mark's Church, Oulton Broad 7.30pm for the local RSPB Members group. A small fee is payable for non- members. Lots of pics of birds, I will be using my new computer and digital projector. Please note all pictures shown were taken on Lesvos with my Sigma 50mm- 500mm and not my current canon 500mm lens.

New Year's day birding

A crack of dawn start on New Year's day and like Christmas day, I travelled to Covehithe and whilst walking down to the Broad, a flock of 28 Barnacle Geese flew south overhead. On the Broad itself, the female Long- tailed Duck was at the back in the south west corner again with 3 Goldeneye. Next stop pakefield Beach by the Jolly sailors where I followed Lowestoft Bird Club chairman Derek B as he put seed out for the Snow Buntings along the mid part of the beach. Initially only 14 Snow Buntings flew in but were later joined by another flock of 28 Snow Buntings totalling 42 Snow Buntings. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew north. Next stop Oulton marshes, I bumped into first Chris S who told me he had spotted 2 Bewick's on Peto's Marsh and then a returning James b on a rare trip out. I was then joined by regular correspondent paul W and we took the usual route down to Fisher Row and then took the intersecting tea gardens path along the western bank. By the green sign I looked across to Peto's marsh and saw the 2 fine Bewick's Swans feeding on this side of the pool in the middle of the field. Meanwhile from the lookout, we joined Neville S and watched the excellent Glossy Ibis feeding along a pool and dyke just north of the lookout. It followed the dyke east whilst feeding. Next and final stop was Fritton woods or should that be waste ground with the increasing number of trees being chopped down, a look out from the mound revealed a dark Common Buzzard and 3 hunting female Marsh Harriers. A flock of 60 Pink- footed Geese flew distantly over a wood at the back and several 18 Curlew seen and a Chinese Water Deer seen also but no RLB's in worsening weather conditions (wind and rain).