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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Journey back

On Saturday 27th December, I spotted a fine Red Kite very low over the M4 motorway just by the Chieveley services/ Newberry at around 10am turn off and just past Reading another 2 separate Red Kites flew low over the M4 motorway. at 10.30am. Driving back over Oulton Broad bridge, I could clearly see (traffic was very slow over the bridge) 3 brownish immature Shag with white chins standing on the edge of the Mutford Lock jetty.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas at Cymisfael stream

My Christmas Day morning started early, with a Tawny Owl's "kewick" call heard at 2pm! The day proper started on a high with a fine female Bullfinch in the tree in Mum's front garden albeit on the far side. Down at the bottom of the hill, by the partially cleared scrub area, 2 calling Goldcrests were seen. By the slight widening in the road, a Coal Tit was feeding on the floor. Further along the stream in the bushes opposite, calling Bullfinchs, revealed another female Bullfinch, but I couldn't see the male. Further along still another female Bullfinch, my third of the morning was seen in a tree. Around 4 Grey Squirrels were seen foraging in the woods. More than I normally see and an ominous sign for the wooldand bird breeders sadly. By the first bridge, a distant Redwing was perched on top a high tree and I saw a Tit feeding the far side of a bush, partially obscured, I spent some 20 minutes checking it out, it was a fine Willow Tit, with bull necked appearance white face matt black cap and more extensive black bib. It spent a lot of time feeding and was joined by a second Willow Tit that flew in from the right, calling the familiar nasal "tsaaah tsaah tsaah" a classic individual with small squat appearance whitish face and prominent white wing panel on the wings.Absolutely super to see these birds my first for 2014, sadly very much in decline in England bush holding there own in this particular part of Wales! Having to walk back, as I was on a time deadline, I was delayed by watching a super Grey Wagtail on the stream which flew up and flew slightly further along. Later on at Mum's house A Treecreeper heared calling and seen briefly in a tree. A Buzzard flew over the road near llannon and at 11.40pm, 2 hooting Tawny Owls were heard from the copse of trees one side of Mum's house and the wood on the other side. A very Merry Christmas to all my blog readers.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Welsh Christmas

On Tuesday 23rd, looking in a field near Llannon (near Llanelli in South Wales), I saw a Mistle Thrush. First thing in Mum's garden at Llandarrog, I counted a great total of 11 Blue Tits coming to food, plus 1 Jay, 1 Great Tit, Robin and 2 Blackbirds but sadly no Nuthatches. On the 24th, a walk down the slope from Mum's house to Cymisfael stream, my regular local patch here, revealed calling, a monotone "peuu", Bullfinch from the hedge bordering the road and the wood, also here was a calling "pitchouu" Marsh Tit that showed some white on the wing. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called and flew over from the hdege over the road and into the wood. A fine female Bullfinch was rooting around in the scrub opposite the road junction. Whilst walking along the road bordering the stream, several Blue Tits seen plus a more typical Marsh Tit (long gloss black crown, no white wing panel longer more elongated shape than Willow) feeding by the edge of the road. Also seen here perched on a ivy clad tree stump, was a Coal Tit. By the fields, a croaking Raven flew west overhead, whilst hearing the odd Redwing "psstt" calls in the distance. I was delighted to see perched on the rock on the stream, a fishing Dipper flying and diving into the water after invertebrates it returned to its rock perch before flying over to the nearside bank of the stream, finally a calling Nuthatch was seen perched on a thick tree trunk.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Grey Wagtail and Harbour Seal

For the second Sunday running today 21st December, I have had a Grey Wagtail call a hard "tszcikk" and fly overhead over Lowestoft London Road north at 12.40pm from the QD roof over to Sports Direct roof on the east side. Shopping at Asda, I had to dash back to get the camera and was delighted to see a Harbour Seal lying on the mud at very low tide. It spent a lot of the time looking at me occasionally for around 30 minutes, it would move with its propelled by it's "flippers" towards the water and I finally left it as it swam in the water poking its head up looking at me!

Trumpeter Swans at Boyton

I must confess that Trumpeter Swans way back 44 years ago first got me interested in birds. My parents used to have old copies of the National Geographic magazine and one edition featured some stunning shots of Trumpeter Swans in America. I was fascinated by these birds and when I was allocated with a Swan picture (and a pink background! at infant school, I knew they weren't the same species I'd seen in the National Geographic magazine- see the "About me" section opposite!). I was therefore very keen to twitch the Boyton birds even though they were almost certainly escapes and the species isn't a long distance migrant. So on Saturday 20th December, I made the pilgrimage down to Boyton Marshes and having negotiated the confusing signage or lack of at Tunstall village, I eventually reached the barn with the metal sculpture turned off left down the lane and took the second left down to the reserve car park. Somebody leaving said there were no parking spaces at the end but when I drove down there, there were 2! having parked up I walked along the flooded meadows observing c30 Teal and c120 Wigeon on the pools. I met Barry W, who said it was around 10 minutes walk along the river bank. I also said a quick hello to Roy M and walked due south then a little west. I joined a throng of birders looking out over a kale field where around 60 Swans could be seen. 58 of them were Mutes but by the left hand end of the pool. I could see first 1 and then 2 Trumpeter Swans. Superb birds appearing slightly (10%) smaller than the Mute's, all black quite long and angular bill with a lovely red line along the lower mandible which showed even more of a characteristic striking red colour when they were feeding when you could see the more of the red colour showing inside the mouth. The birds were unfortunately at the back of the flock, quite distant and they kept loosely together, firstly with one asleep and one feeding and then they slowly walked left and even further away. They then walked back one back on, whilst the other slightly smaller bird hunkered down and promptly fell asleep. Some other newly interested birders were pleased to be shown the birds through my scope and I hope these birds engender a lasting interest in birds for them, as it did me! Walking back, I saw 2 Little Egrets walking about looking for food in a muddy field. A great trip and realisation of another ambition this year in seeing certain species (Franklin's Gull was the other having missed it in 1977, 37 years ago when I was starting birding). Travelling onto North Warren as usual no sign of the Beans although they must have been around c220 Barnacle Geese and around 15 White- fronted Geese at least in the far fields.

Jay in garden

First thing Friday 19th December morning a Jay was feeding on something on the middle of the lawn and spent 5 minutes before unfortunately being accidentally flushed by Cosmo, who was just trotting past (not going for the Jay at all, indeed he seemed oblivious to the Jay's presence!)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

More Great Benacre birds

Sunday 14 December, another sunny but cold day saw me back at Benacre. Trudging along the beach to join Dick W, photographing 3 Shore Larks feeding on the edge of the broad. I carefully set up my photographic gear and was going to carefully join him without disturbing birds when a birdwatcher walked up to him asking what the Diver was on the Broad and subsequently scaring the Shore Larks to fly north seemingly over to the stubble field north of the Broad, great! I looked out over the Broad and saw the Great Northern Diver swimming in the middle constantly diving, it was still too far away for any decent pictures sadly. Dick and I then saw 2 lovely Sanderlings wandering towards us and we got some close views of these great birds. Dick refund the 3 Shore Larks along the northern edge of the Broad and we took the next 3/4 hour or so looking at and photographing them. From the hide, I spied 3 Goldeneye, 2 males and a female at the back of the Broad, they suddenly took to flight and then flew clockwise around the Broad 3X before settling relatively close to the hide before swimming left. At the back of Covehithe Church, looking out over the field, walking down by the bushes, I saw 4 Redwings calling "pssst" and 1 bird perched up high in the bush. Again I met up with Dick we spied 4 Bramblings, 2 smart males and 2 females in the bushes amongst the Chaffinches and Linnets. On the way back we stopped off by the lay-by at Kessingland Levels and looked west to see 7 smart Whooper Swans, all adults in pristine plumage in the field there, 6 were in a group together with 1 slightly separated from them by 10 yards or so.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Return to Benacre in days of yore, i.e. lots of great winter birds to see!

On Saturday 6th December I headed to Benacre Broad. Parking at Covehithe I walked down to the Broad and could see a guy scoping something from the northern end from the beach as I walked over I noticed the excellent Great Northern Diver that was swimming in the middle of the broad and swimming north, it dived frequently and we were lucky that it came reasonably close by the buoy, only problem was the autofocus wasn't working very well so I had to switch to manual. The bird then spent a little time by the buoy before swimming south and going back to the middle of the Broad again. As we were watching it, I noticed 2 female Goldeneye at the back and often just behind the Diver was a female Common Scoter. That Scoter was then joined by another 2 Scoters, making a fine total of a trio of female Common Scoters. Walking along the stubble field just south of the Broad, I heard a Snow Bunting's trilling call but failed to see any birds. Seeing danny P, he had just seen them on the cliff edge and they had flown south. I walked along the cliffs to Covehithe Broad and immediately spotted the fine redhead Smew that was swimming south along the northern end giving reasonable scope views as she swam. Further along in the dunes, I encountered Chris D who was photographing the 3 Shore Larks feeding along the Broad edge. They were reasonably confiding and Chris discreetly left, and kindly left the birds for me to photograph. There was really good light but I was slightly hampered because the autofocus was playing up again and I had to rely on manual focusing again, which was difficult considering the birds spent 95% of their time feeding usually behind a ridge of sand and then behind fronds of small grasses on the beach and were continually on the move constantly feeding. I continued to watch and attempted to photograph them in this way or the next half an hour, all other walkers along the beach, including most dog walkers discretely passed along the seaward side of the beach, until inevitably after 30 minutes a dog flushed them and they flew a short way to the northern broad edge where they again began feeding. After a further 10 minutes, I left them and put a returning Danny P onto them too. I could see he was standing in the Dunes and photographing them on the Broad edge where I had originally seen them with Chris.