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Monday, 29 February 2016

Tenerife trip

Just back from a trip to Tenerife with mixed success. Flying from Norwich the trip got off to a bad start when we couldn't even find the resort, I had a street map showing the hotel location in the town, the layout of the junctions off the motorway bore no relation to the map and the junction numbers no relation to the actual numbers shown on the sign. We later found out the numbers were kilometre marks rather than the numerical numbers shown on the map. After 2 hours we finally found the resort and the hotel at 9pm only just arriving in time for a very late dinner. We stayed at Costa Adaje which was just north of Playa de las Americas it was a horrible large urban sprawl of massive over development for the holiday industry hotel everywhere. Mon 22nd Feb at the Los Lajas picnic site Blue Chaffinches were initially heard sounding like a "slurred" drunk Chaffinch there calls were instantly recognisable. Very fine looking birds, bigger than our Chaffinch (I didn't see an ordinary Chaffinch all trip) and the males were particularly smart in the their metallic blue plumage and white eye crescents, around 10 seen-4 adults & 6 were immature males and 4 females seen but this species were nearly always feeding in the shade , around 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, small groups of Canaries (4, 6, 2, 5 & 3) , an around 5 African Blue Tits, a pair of Tenerife Buzzards calling like a Grey Heron when they flew overhead seen from the closed Mount Teide road and a single but very welcome Tenerife Goldcrest that showed in bushes on the track the opposite. Mount Teide was closed due to the recent snowfall half a day wasted. Tues 23rd- Los Cristianos- Just missed the boat trip which ran at 11 so had to wait to 1.30pm (more hours wasted) for the next 8 Short- finned Pilot Whales and 8 Atlantic Spotted Dolphins plus 10 Cory's Shearwaters. Wed 24th Feb- La Grimonas watcpoint- feral Pigeons, around 14 White- tailed Laurel Pigeons seen, 2 Bolles' Pigeon, Tenerife Robin, Kestrel and Tenerife Buzzard, a Barbary Falcon flew left and past us over the cliffs. At the Northern airport could only find the northern rather thsn the southern perimeter fence (there was no sign for Los Rodeos). Got terribly lost at La Laguna it was a one way system and as signs to Tegueste and Valle de Molina disappeared, sadly another half day wasted. I stopped off later on at Golf Del Sur along the northern perimeter fence waste by a pond on the goldf course a Grey Heron, 5 Cattle Egrets, 2 Moorhens and around 8 Spanish Sparrows seen. ground I saw 1, 2 and 2 Barbary Partridges, a Spectacled Warbler and 2 pairs of Berthelot's Pipits. Thur 25th Los Lajas & Mount Teide- 1 Berthelot's Pipit was walking along the kerb stone in front of the cafe briefly but soon flew off and 3 Berthelot's Pipit in the staff car park around the back plus 2 feral Rock Doves. Fri Trip to Punta teno, hair raising roads scenery looking like Peru rather than Spain. At Masca village, a very confiding Canary Islands Chiff- Chaff and Grey Wagtail. At Punta Teno very disappointing at the lighthouse 10 Painted Ladies seen and by the Tomato fields around 10 Canaries and a Linnet and an African Blue Tit by the rock face but no Rock Sp's or Barbary falcons or Osprey, the recommended lay-by was full of cars both times we passed so we couldn't stop and look for birds. Not entirely sure where Armenoime reservoir was, but a reservoir small one seen from road just past Armenoime, Grey Heron, a Little Egret and a single Painted Lady seen here, dog walkers flushed em though. Sat- A very cloudy day, we missed the trip at the Yellow Submarine as they don't run on a Saturday pity our rep didn't tell us that when we asked her earlier on in the week, they are only interested in selling their own vastly inflated tours. A return trip to Golf Del Sur 1 plus 2 plus 2 Barbary Partridges, 2 pairs of Berthelot's Pipits. A trip around Jungle Park, revealed a Grey Wagtail in the White Lion enclosure, as we drove up we saw a free flying American Bald Eagle as day.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Minsmere Smew & Whoopers

On Tuesday 16th February having a TOIL half day. I drove down to an initially frosty Minsmere, walking along the track between West and South hide just after 9am, I managed to see 2 small groups of birds feeding on the Alder seeds of the Alder trees on the east side of the track, both 5 Goldfinches and 5 Siskin fed and I obtained a few pictures of each. I walked on but there was no sign of the Whoopers behind south hide. A knowledgable jogger disturbed a female Stonechat perched right by the path but he knew it was a female Stonechat pity his bird craft wasn't so up to his ID skills. The female Stonechat seen briefly perched in a bush by the reeds and on posts by the side of the track. At Island Mere having first looked for the Firecrests without success by the Rhododendron tunnel. As I walked in the hide, the 2 Whooper Swans took to flight and appeared to fly over to the South Levels. A fine Redhead Smew was on the middle area of the Mere. Back at the Rhodedendron tunnel again no luck despite staying half and hour before I had to leave at 11.30am to go back to work. I'm struggling to see Firecrests this year having dipped them in Corton woods several times.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Cattle Egret again at East End farm

On Sunday 14th February, often in birding you have to choose which bird to go for, do you go to Minsmere for Smew, Whoopers & Firecrest or back to East End farm for another photographic crack at the Egret? As a birder it would undoubtedly be Minsmere but as a photographer, I've got good shots of all 3 species but could improve on the Cattle Egret pictures I have. So back to East End farm. I parked at the Aldeby tip (where do you look to see the Gulls here???) and as I did so Dick W drew up and we walked down together. The Cattle Egret was back in the field but initially we couldn't see the Cattle they were behind the hay feeder and the Egret was walking around the shed in the western corner. A male Stonechat was again seen by the fence and the ditch. The Egret walked round by the Cattle then flew to the far side. Dick and I walked back up the track and the bird flew back into just behind the Cattle, but we were now wrong side of the track looking into the sun. After 2 birders had had a look and Carl B and his wife had also been and gone, before he left Carl spotted a Buzzard being mobbed by a Crow and the Buzzard flew past at the back. Dick and I very slowly walked down the track I walked past the feeding Cattle with the Cattle Egret feeding between their legs where they were disturbing insects, food for the Egret. The Egret was showing really well and we took full advantage. The bird continued to feed well until another birder walking down flushed it and the bird flew to the back of the field again, but within 10 minutes it had flown to the middle of the field.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Cattle Egret at East End farm, Burgh St.Peter

After hearing the bird was still there, I made my way to Burgh St. Peter, armed with my trusty "Norwich & the Broads" OS map (essential for finding these out of the way places!) I followed the signs for Burgh St. Peter, then went down Mill road and parked by Aldeby tip. Walking down East Lane, I heard and then saw a Fieldfare flying past. Leading to East End farm where I met Roger C coming away he said take the track through the farm buildings open the gate and then first field on the left with cattle is where the bird, a fine Cattle Egret was. It had flown to the far end of the field but the cattle worked their way right along the back edge. By the shed a male Stonechat was seen briefly. Also a Barn Owl was seen hunting over a distant field to the east. Not that far from Castle Marshes but obviously Norfolk side of the River Waveney. The cattle walked along the edge close to obscured by a breeze block built shed and the Egret was following them! The gate I was waiting behind, was just by the shed and as the cattle walked out the Cattle Egret followed them and was really close Ferguson views! Unfortunately, a couple walking their dog walked past a minute or so later, (nice couple but unfortunate timing to be walking past with your dog) so I only managed to get 7 or 8 close shots of the Egret. It flew to the back of the field again. When the dog came closer the Egret actually flew out of the field over the track and into the field west of there. Finally, the bird flew back into the field twenty minutes later time for me to leave. It was good to see Roy R walking down the track and I know he had good views of the bird too, having seen his tweet and excellent picture later. Checking Hamilton Dock and a stormy Ness Point nothing doing, but at 4.25pm a Peregrine was sitting on the south- west corner of the roof of the grain silo, my first of the year.

Lowestoft area

On Wednesday No sign of GN Diver from rail bridge Shag seen on water plus 3 Little Grebe. From Asda nothing. Ness Point by rock just N initially nothing then 14 Purple Sands flown, they were a little flighty but fed on the rocks, by the southern section of the seawall.

Glaucous and GW Teal

On Wed 3 Feb the biscuit coloured 1st winter Glaucous Gull was seen of the roof at Esplanade court (east of Yarmouth FC & just N of the Hollywood cinema) During the whole period of observation, it remained seated and just stood up and sat down again when bread was thrown out (it didn't fly down towards the bread, sadly). At Blythburgh, I was fortunate to meet Lenny T and we scanned from the footpath just beyond the bridge there were a lot of Teal north- west section of estuary and Lenny did really well to pick out the Green- Winged Teal, it was slightly bigger than the other Teal and had the stand white vertical instead of horizontal line it also had a bill band which band which gave the bill a bulbous appearance. The bird was easily lost when it swam away but equally we soonb picked it out again as it saw towards a group of Teal by the fence posts in the extreme north west corner, I also spotted 7 Bar- tailed Godwits too.