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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Goosander at Leathes Ham

On Sunday 30th November, another dull day, a look from Asda revealed 1 Cormorant sitting on a post. Having checked Twitter when I reached home, I went out in the pouring rain and managed to get good views of a fine male Goosander, complete with dark green head (which looked black in the appalling light) and pinkish flush to the breast and underparts a super bird which swam past the island. Around 24 Pintail, 12 pairs. 9 pairs all together on the close island. A sharp call revealed a fine Kingfisher flying past from left to right. The rain was getting worse so I beat a hasty retreat to the car, all ready to return armed with camera early the next morning.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Shore Larks!

On Saturday 29th November, a very long walk from Kessingland to first the eastern edge of Benacre Broad edge and then Covehithe Broad edge was initially very cold and with a biting easterly wind. Birds were few and far between, but what I did see was quality. On the Pit, 2 Little Grebes seen. Then meeting up with Danny P and Barry W, I decided to check the Broad edge and immediately saw 2 Shore Larks actively feeding here. A female Common Scoter was on the north east part of the Broad. The Shore Larks fed on the Broad edge for 10 minutes before flying south. Walking down to Covehithe broad, a dead Bull Grey seal was sadly lying on the beach. Then incredibly, after meeting Clive N, 3 Shore Larks flew to the Broad edge giving good views albeit in poor light. As they flew in, one bird called, a lovely liquid "eehhh-diiidi"sound and they started to feed by the Broad edge. They feed here for 10 minutes before flying a little further north to the north east side of the Broad feeding again. Many thanks to Danny P for giving me a lift from Covehithe back to Kessingland. Very handy, especially as I had to back home by noon.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Two wet Waxwings

At around 12.30pm today on Sunday 23rd November, I drove past Tennyson road again and 2 of the 3 Waxwings were sat on the aerial again, one then both flew down presumably to feed on the berries by the old people's home courtyard. Both birds looked very wet in the steady rain that was falling at the time (which lasted typically all day!)

Waxwings at Tennyson road

I drove down Artillery Way on the morning of Saturday 22nd November, hoping to see the Waxwings that had been seen there over the last few days, no luck so I drove down to the battery Green roundabout and drove back and parked in Arnold Street as I could see at least 1 Waxwing perched on an aerial. I was joined by Paul & Jane F. It was soon joined by 2 more and they regularly flew from here in to a berry tree in the inner courtyard of an old people's home. walking around from the Tennyson road entrance, 1 and then 2 Waxwings were seen on the berry laden tree. They fed for a while and then flew back to the aerial. All 3 Waxwings were either seen on the aerial or the chimney pot. The birds would frequently flycatch, flying up high then swooping down and settle back on the aerial. When we were joined by OFB and then Jon E. We waited and several times 1 or 2 birds would fly down and feed from berries from the tree before flying up again.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

RIP Malcolm F

I was very saddened to hear that Malcolm F had passed away at the weekend. I had known Malcolm since the early 1980's, he used to live, I believe, at Reydon and then moved to the Saints near Halesworth, Suffolk. Often, I would quite literally, bump into Malcolm whilst birding around Southwold, Benacre or Minsmere. Malcolm was an excellent birder, finding many rare birds, including a Serin at Southwold. Above all, I remember Malcolm's cheerfulness and exuberance, despite occasional bouts of ill health. Malcolm was very keen to get to a bird and wouldn't allow any vegetation to stand in his way. He was well liked and was a very sociable man and it was always good to have a chat with him and share in his extensive ornithological knowledge. Looking back at my blog, it was Malcolm who advised me to look at Sizewell for the King Eider on Nov 15th 2010 and due to his excellent advice, I was able to add a very smart male King Eider onto my Birthday list. More recently, Malcolm and I had shared an incredible experience of watching an Osprey which fished on Blythburgh estuary (8 Sept 2013), it was Malcolm that put me onto a Glow Worm larvae wriggling across the path ahead of us. In more recent years, Malcolm had also embraced social media particularly Twitter. He described himself on there as "an old birdwatcher in the Saints, a rural area of Suffolk, North East of Halesworth." I used to look forward to his tweets about him seeing Turtle Doves in his garden. Something we would chat about when I saw him. On Twitter, he followed 74 people (including my tweets) and I was 1 of his 75 followers. He will be very sadly missed by all his birding friends and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. RIP Malcolm.

Redwings and Tawny Owl

Last night 18th November at around 10am I heard several Redwings flying over the house and the call of a hooting Tawny Owl nearby.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

2 Brents at Ness Point

On a further trip to Ness Point on Sunday 16th November, I was pleased to see Danny P, and he pointed out there were now 2 immature Brent Geese on the jetty and sure enough I saw 2 immature Brent Geese feeding right at the end of this promontory. There were again feeding on the seaweed and one even fell asleep at one point. Before an immature Herring Gull harried one of the Geese and caused it to fly inland in a south- westerly direction at 9.50am. Within a minute the other bird followed too. The return of the rain put paid to any further birding during the day.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A wet day

First thing, I was at Gorleston and sadly there was no sign of the Desert Wheatear but a Grey Seal was seen swimming north out to sea briefly. At Ness Point, a fine immature Brent Goose was seen on the finger/ Jetty fed on the seaweed here. The Goose spent most of its time, half way along but on a return visit it walked straight up to us, just a few feet albeit in the pouring rain. Later, on a walk along to the southern end of Ness Point, revealed a Purple Sandpiper which fed on the rocks. Plus 2 calling Rock Pipit were seen just north of here on the rocks too.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Windswept Desert Wheatear

On Tuesday and Wednesday night I had heard several Redwings calling whilst flying over the garden. What a difference a couple of days makes! My trip lunchtime today Thursday 13th November, at around 12.15pm I drove back to Gorleston beach and was greeted by murky grey skies and a brisk strong south- east wind. I walked along could not initially see the bird but something flitted past and into a tuft of grass by the beach wall opposite Cliff Avenue. Another bloke had seen it in this area and I met up with ex- Pat Geoff who'd spent the last 20 years in Australia and was back home making his home at Lowestoft. A dog walker with a dog flushed the fine female Desert Wheatear out by the wall and it flew back on the stone ledge and showed well before being seen by the posts and then flying further along. With the sand starting to blow around time to gt the camera safely in the bag and get back to work! At 8pm this evening I heard at least 4 Redwings flying over Tesco's Supermarket at Gunton.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Desert Wheatear Fest continues at Gorleston

A lunchtime pop down to Gorleston Beach today Monday 10th November at 1.20pm, just 5 minutes away in the car. I walked down under the ornate bridge and ravine and the excellent female Desert Wheatear was on the beach showing really well. The light was perfect with the sun fairly low giving a lovely yellowy glow which we normally only get during the golden hours (first or last light). It was good to see Paul from Dereham on a lunch break from work he was carrying out at Gorleston. She was initially by the wall catching black flies and skirting around us just feet away and we were both taking full advantage with our respective camera gear. She was exceptionally confiding at times and ran towards me on several occasions and often she was only 3 feet away and too close for the camera, I just savoured the incredible experience of a visitor who'd come all the wall from North Africa or the Middle East being so close. She favoured the area by the submerged groyne frequently perching on the posts. Later on mealworms were scattered here by another birder/ photographer on the post and she returned to feed. Later she became a bit more wary when she flew towards the middle of the beach on the red triangular end piece to a groyne almost completely submerged in the middle of the beach. From here, she later flew to the tideline. After an incredibly enjoyable 50 minute lunch break (and pictures in the bag and well satisfied) I returned to work.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Tale of 2 Desert Wheatears

On Sunday 9th November, it had rained all morning, and walking along the seawall I saw the fine male Desert Wheatear, looking rather wet and bedraggled sat on the sea wall directly directly opposite the net posts. It sat on the west wall edge of the sea wall. Later on when the sun came out, it showed along this same wall attracting a small gaggle of birders and bird photographers camped by the western wall, including Penny C and others, it flew nearer the caravan site and showed down to 8 feet, I managed to get a few more pictures here and was only disturbed when a door walker walked along this part of the wall pushing it along on two further occasions until she realised what she was doing and steered the dogs away. Meanwhile in the Turbine yard at Ness Point, the immature Red- backed Shrike was seen on the bramble bush slap bang in the middle of the yard. It flew to the walled area and bathed in a puddle on one occasion. I then went onto Gorleston and the excellent female Desert Wheatear. We watched her from the raised walk way half way along the promenade, between the Pier Hotel and the cafe. She was initially seen on the beach and half submerged groyne posts. Later on I walked down onto the beach and the female Desert Wheatear kept returning to an area close in by the promenade walkway where mealworms had been left. Several times she came in really close to within 6 feet on one occasion, I stayed put with 4 bird photographers. The behaviour of some "birders"/ "birding photographers" and I use these terms loosely, left a lot to be desired as they pushed the bird north along the promenade before they perched her back towards us. She ran onto the flat concrete floor area, feeding on the mealworms the bird then ran past us and onto the beach. Whilst on the beach, without being disturbed, she then decided to fly a long way north heading to the area by the breakwater.

2 Desert Wheatears & 2 Suffolk Ticks: Surf Scoter and Ravens

On Saturday 8th November, the day started early at Gorleston beach, parking early on near the Pier Hotel, the excellent female Desert Wheatear was seen close to the northern promenade (leading to the Pier) and was seen on the sand and flying onto the rocks by the edge. The female Desert Wheatear lacked the blackish face and had less black in the wings with the same sandy buff plumage and thin black bill and tail. She would occasionally fly up onto the walkway and then eventually flew over to the rocks by the Duck pond. Next up was the fine male Desert Wheatear on the sea wall at Lowestoft, there was a group of around 20 people huddled in a semi circle and 2 lads lying on the seawall path way with their hands outstretched and a few meal worms. The bird was mainly perched on the sea wall but would occasionally pop down and feed on the mealworms. A whole ethical dilemma arises here. Do we feed the birds? If the bird runs out of natural food, surely it will move on? If it is fed will stay too long in an area where it shouldn't be and more likely to sucoom to the cold/ lack of food once the artificial feeding stops (once all the photographer have go their pictures?) Also feeding the bird the wrong type of mealworm i.e. the larger ones with hairs that sickens the bird (the hairs causes it to gag) and it could lead to its demise. Whilst out to sea, a relatively distant Pomarine Skua flew south, briefly harrying a Gull showing white underwing flashes. A twinkling call revealed a Snow Bunting flying south over us which quickly flew down onto the beck and showed for three minutes before again flying further outh. taking Ricky, Paul and jane F we drove down to Stutton Ness and parking at Stutton Village Hall we walked the mile long walk down to Stutton Ness. We arrived a gaggle of birders looking out over the estuary towards Essex town. Matthew D was there and he said there was a reasonably close Great Northern Diver which swam closer and showed well. We were also directed onto a distant Scoter swimming between bout boundary markers, only when the bird swam this side of the closest bouy could we definitively identify it as a female Common Scoter. We also saws female Red- breasted Merganser fly past and right. Rob and John who had joined us went off to scan the estuary round Holbrook Bay, within ten minutes Rob came back stating he may have the Scoter, we looked across Holbrooke Bay and half way out swimming by an orange bouy directly in front the cranes of Felixstowe wa the excellent immature Surf Scoter. It had a heavy triangular shaped bill, dark brown plumage large whitish area on th cheeks. It held its tail up high (like a Ruddy Duck). It swam right and often dived. A dark brown plumage with an extensive white area on the face. A second female Red- breasted Merganser flew right. Walking back by a set a side strip and hedgerow, we saw a fine Brambling. Next stop Orford, where we parked at Gedgrave Hall, we followed the footpath west up a hill and then north, where we saw an isolated conifer belt, looking south were the fields and the marshes. We walked around, we saw 2 Buzzards and a female Marsh Harrier. At 3.55pm, just as the light was starting to dim slightly I looked outh and saw 2 fantastic Ravens flying off the marsh I quickly put Ricky onto these birds and we watched them fly over the pines where they dipped out of sight, 1 Raven then flew north under some overhead wires and the long wings, splayed fingers and diamond shaped tails clearly seen along with the large size and heavy bills, Suffolk tick number 2! We had become separated from Rob, John, Paul & Jane F but waving at them did enable Jane to catch one of these super birds. Both Ricky and I were really elated and celebrated with a high 5!!! A superb day with an unprecedented 2 Suffolk ticks, sometimes I go a full year without seeing a new bird species in Suffolk!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Little Auk & Desert Wheatear (Thanks Rene!)

From 7.50am to 9am I sea watched hoping for a Little Auk, none were seen during the first part of the sea watch although several flocks of Brent Geese c15, 18 & 22 flew south, a large Auk flew North, 5 Wigeon flew south and several small flocks of Common Scoter 15, 18 and 22. In bound migration included a Song Thrush and several Meadow Pipits in off. Then at 8.40am I suddenly saw a Little Auk flying north, it pitched onto the sea in front of the sea defence rocks stayed here of 5 minutes before flying again and pitching down again and settling on the sea around the first groyne north of the Point I quickly hurried over and took 4 shots of it at mid distance before it flew north. Just before I had to leave (for a funeral) I bumped into Chris M. As I was attending a funeral, (a Brambling was heard calling outside Gorleston crematorium. I had left my mobile at home and was shopping in Tesco and very fortunately bumped into Rene, who said "Have you seen the Wheatear? It's showing really well down to a few feet". "Which Wheatear" I replied. "A Desert and it's on the North Denes!" Rene clarified. (I Should have left my mobile in the car!) I raced back home, grabbed my bins, scope and tripod and camera gear and raced to the site. Parking at the Links road car park, there was a group of people looking a little North along the sea wall and in the last decent bits of the fading sunlight, there it was, a fine adult male Desert Wheatear in winter plumage, with varying amounts of black on its face, wings and completely black tail. As always a really smart bird and like the others I have seen also very confiding. It was initially seen at mid distance using the eastern most sea wall as look out it often hopped onto the beach and then back to the wall, carefully treading back along the car park the bird flew towards us and perched on the wall again, sometimes it flew onto the seawall path before flying back to the eastern most sea wall again.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shrike & Lesser Whitethroat

On Saturday 1st November the immature Red- backed Shrike was showing well at Ness Point by the Bird's Eye factory orange windsock. Other birders were staying in their cars too so the bird was unfazed and regularly feeding. I then had a tweet to say the Hoopoe was still at Framsden, so wanting to get some shots of the bird in the sunshine I drove down and didn't see it despite SUffolk BINS saying the bird continued to welcome all comers well it didn't welcome me on this occasion! On Sunday 2nd November, at 12.30 pm a Grey wagtail was heard and then sen flew just above the garden and north. a tweet from Rob stating the Lesser Whitethroat was still in mariner's Score, I drove down parked in the High Street directly opposite the entrance to the score and was very jammy (for once) as the bird started to show well in an ivy covered sycamore. It simply flew right into the tree. There were 2 sycamores together and it was seen just seen above the clad ivy area, initially looking a very sandy brown bodied bird it showed a grey head white throat and sandy brown back.