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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Shrike and Walberswick birds

Having missed a lift for the Shrike yesterday, on Sunday 27th November, I drove down to Sutton Heath, I eventually arrived at the southern most car park and initially unsure where to go, returning birders said I had to walk 800 yards down the road and on the right hand side of the road look into a field opening and scan the distant hedge. I joined a small throng of birders including Paul & Jane F, Jane had picked up the bird perched on a distant bush and having been kindly put onto it. I followed its progress as it spent a lot of time hunting flying down and then returning to a different push usually on top of a bush or an overhead wire. It looked like an ordinary Great Grey Shrike save for the obvious white outer tail feathers, white all the way down suggesting it may be of the "homyeri" race. Indeed the white outer tail feathers were very similar to the pattern of Steppe Grey Shrike. It showed a little more white on the wing too. It worked its way down the fence and then worked its way back before flying even further back where we were joined by Chris L. At one time I saw several passerines flying over including one with a white rump, a Brambling. I then drove to Needham market, but sadly there was no sign of the BB Dipper at Hawksbill or the Weir. I then drove to Walberswick, I reached the shore line and immediately 30 Snow Bunting flew north along the ridge and perched on the beach around 60 yards away. I met Alson A who walked north in search of Snow Bunting, but 5 minutes after I left her, another 3 Snow Buntings flew north along the ridge. By the shore pools, a Great White Egret flew and flew back into some reeds but later walked and fished along a dylke before flying a little way south when someone, a birder walked along the ridge. Meeting Gerald J, we walked south towards Dunwich and I estimate I saw around 440 Common Scoters the majority of these were female. I did spot a female Velvet Scoter with 2 white smudge spots on its head and a tell tale white wing clip. It was seen near a juvenile Herring Gull. A couple of Red- throated Divers flew north here. I also saw a female Eider swimming towards me. walking further along, I again spotted a male Velvet Scoter, this time a smart black plumaged male again with the white wing clip seen. Just before leaving Gerald, I walked back and was really pleased to see 40 Twite flying along the beach heading north. Over the reeds by the Mill, a few Bearded Tits heard but not seen, plus 6 Marsh Harriers and 3 Buzzards over Westwood marshes. walking back through the woods and insane number of Pheasant seen or heard, 1 along the path, 1 in the wood, 2 in the trees- I estimate I must have recorded around 200.

Shrike and Walberswick birds

Having missed a lift for the Shrike yesterday, on Sunday 27th November, I drove down to Sutton Heath, I eventually arrived at the southern most car park and initially unsure where to go, returning birders said I had to walk 800 yards down the road and on the right hand side of the road look into a field opening and scan the distant hedge. I joined a small throng of birders including Paul & Jane F, Jane had picked up the bird perched on a distant bush and having been kindly put onto it. I followed its progress as it spent a lot of time hunting flying down and then returning to a different push usually on top of a bush or an overhead wire. It looked like an ordinary Great Grey Shrike save for the obvious white outer tail feathers, white all the way down suggesting it may be of the "homeyei" race. Indeed the white outer tail feathers were very similar to the pattern of Steppe Grey Shrike. It showed a little more white on the wing too. It worked its way down the fence and then worked its way back before flying even further back where we were joined by Chris L. At one time I saw several passerines flying over including one with a white rump, a Brambling. I then drove to Needham market, but sadly there was no sign of the BB Dipper at Hawksbill or the Weir. I then drove to Walberswick, I reached the shore line and immediately 30 Snow Bunting flew north along the ridge and perched on the beach around 60 yards away. I met Alson A who walked north in search of Snow Bunting, but 5 minutes after I left her, another 3 Snow Buntings flew north along the ridge. By the shore pools, a Great White Egret flew and flew back into some reeds but later walked and fished along a dylke before flying a little way south when someone, a birder walked along the ridge. Meeting Gerald J, we walked south towards Dunwich and I estimate I saw around 440 Common Scoters the majority of these were female. I did spot a female Velvet Scoter with 2 white smudge spots on its head and a tell tale white wing clip. It was seen near a juvenile Herring Gull. Divers flew north here. I also saw a female Eider swimming towards me. walking further along, I again spotted a male Velvet Scoter, this time a smart black plumaged male again with the white wing clip seen. Just before leaving Gerald, I walked back and was really pleased to see 40 Twite flying along the beach heading north. Over the reeds by the Mill, a few Bearded Tits heard but not seen, plus 6 Marsh Harriers and 3 Buzzards over Westwood marshes. walking back through the woods and insane number of Pheasant seen or heard, 1 along the path, 1 in the wood, 2 in the trees- I estimate I must have recorded around 200.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

2 Cattle Egrets again at Gapton Hall Marshes

On Saturday 26th November, I took a walk down a sunny Harper's Lane and initially hearing gunshots I wasn't expecting to see the Egrets but seeing Jeremy staring eastwards was a hopeful sign. Sure enough, looking out in the field by a gate, 2 Cattle Egrets were seen around the gate. 1 Cattle Egret flew back and joined some cattle, the other bird stayed put. As the cattle wandered a little closer although they weeding on mare's tail, the Egret flew over to join them. The other side of the path, we saw a Little Egret stood erect bold upright whilst 2 immature Marsh Harriers flying further out. Back at the Egret field, a Buzzard flew across and settled by a gate before being briefly mobbed by a Kestrel.

Lowestoft and Haddiscoe Marshes

On Sunday November 20th, a pair of Stonechats were best on a morning's birdwatch round Ness Point and Hamilton Dock. At Haddiscoe Marshes in the afternoon from the mound an imm Rough- legged Buzzard was seen perched on a post it later flew to roost (showing white tail with dark terminal end) over Waveney Forest, 3 Buzzard, a female Hen Harrier following the line of a muddy bank, 3+ Short- eared Owls, Marsh Harriers 2 Barn Owls and a Kestrel & around 20 Pink- footed Geese.

Forsters Tern at Mistley

On Saturday 19th November, receiving a lift from Rob Wil, Ricky Rob and I arrived at Mistly Quay in Essex and the weather had been kind to us. The anticipated high winds and heavy rain hadn't occurred, instead we had had the odd light shower. We arrived and the bird hadn't been seen. We decided to look further down the road at Wrab Point we walked left along a fore shore and further along were wooden "beach style" huts and we saw a great deal of birds including 33 and 23 groups of Red- breasted Mergansers (female outnumbering males 4 to 1) There were Black- tailed Godwits c30 and groups of around 50 Dunlin and 3 Bar- tailed Godwits on shore close in. We counted around 17 GC Grebes out on the estuary but couldn't see any rarer Grebes or sea duck amongst them. We went back to the Quay and a chap had a call saying the bird had been seen further east, we drove down to an area by a railway line and walked north to the estuary and along the shore we could see the excellent Forster's Tern flying west slowly. It showed a black smudge around the eye area, a black bill and black wedge on the primaries. It was fishing around the buoy and we had good views of the bird, but it was always too far away to photograph. It eventually flew west. Walking back, we saw a visibly distressed regular Correspondent who cheered up when he spotted it himself later on. Back at the Quay, the bird was around the far western end but it suddenly flew past reasonably close but flew east at break neck speed again too quick for me to photo. At the Quay itself we saw it fly west again, on the far side of the bank, which was Suffolk proper and a very welcome addition to my Suffolk list.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Fairly Big Moon

Not having the chance to get any shots of the Big Moon until this evening, Thursday 17th November, because it was cloudy on the night itself of the full Moon (no sign tof it in very thick cloud) and I was at a meeting in Cambridge until late yesterday. So here is a picture of it taken at the entrance to Gunton woods.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Birthday bonus = Mealy Redpoll, Waxwing, 2 Cattle Egrets & Slav Grebe!

Taking annual leave from work today today, Tues 15th November, leaving the house I saw skeins of Cormorants flying east, groups of 9, 4 and 3 because it is my birthday, I started on the North Denes at around 8.30am, just north of the Bird's Eye factory, where 2 birders were looking west along the path running along the southern edge of the weedy patch. I veered around carefully to join them where they said they had seen the bird, but it had flown into the bushes. A minute or so later it flew down onto the edge of the weedy patch the South- western edge and I slowly edged towards it, I was about to get some pics when a dog walker appeared at exactly at the wrong time going past it just as I was focussing on it, so no pics. How annoying. I had to wait around 20 minutes, but I hadn't realised it was back among the weeds when a brown bird with whitish rump flew back into the bushes. It perched high up in a tree with a piece of plastic caught in the branches and I watched from a distance before it dropped to the grassy floor underneath a bush. Of course, another dog walker walked past and flushed it yet again. But this time it was only 5 minutes before the excellent Mealy Redpoll, flew to the south- western edge of the weeds again by the path and this time I slowly manoeuvred myself into position and managed to spend around 20 minutes photographing it. It was voraciously feeding on the seeds of the weeds, sometimes perched vertically across a stem and plucking the seed heads. Other times it perched upright on the stem and continued feeding. I watched it until a birdwatcher walking west along the path, obviously didn't see the bird and didn't understand my gestures to keep back, flushed it back into the trees. At Ness Point, theere was no sign of the Snow B behind the hut or anywhere at the Point. It was very high tide and I walked to the northern perimeter of the Point and saw a lone Purple sandpiper on the rocks, that was quickly joined by 2 more, making 3 Purple Sandpipers in total, 2 flew south a little way. There was no sign of any Waxwings around Spashett Road area. Whilst driving north along the A12 just past the Hopton roundabout a lone Waxwing flew low and west over the A12 clearly seen from the car, it appeared to land in th bushes just west of the carriageway. Looking from Meadow road at Burgh castle, I could see around 3 Little Egrets in the distant fields plus a quartering Marsh harrier. No sign of the Cattle Egrets until 2 excellent Cattle Egrets got up and flew south along the Breydon south wall fields sporting yellow bills and more rounded wings. At Filby, I walked to Ormesby Little Broad and saw several Tufted Duck c10 and 7 Great- crested Grebes all in a line in front of the lookout. I was really pleased to see the Slavonian Grebe swimming on the water mid way out swimming right and seen right from the lookout, it appeared to swim into the eastern arm of Ormsby Little Broad. Meanwhile calls overhead revealed at least 1 Siskin seen in flight. Walking back I saw a female Marsh Harrier flying overhead right to left. On Filby Broad, I counted 7 Goldeneye, 2 males and 5 females.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Snow Bunting, Velvet Scoter and Mealy Redpoll all around Ness Point

Back at Ness Point, on Sunday 13th November, no sign of the Snow B by Coastguards, I could see the reason why there was a photographer with a 300mm lens hassling the Snow Bunting by the seawall and he was getting far too close and the bird was hopping several metres away each time, until he finally forced it to fly. I guessed it would go back to the Coastguards and by the Sailors Hut. I went back and it was indeed there and flew back down to feed on the seeds from the grassy vegetation. As I was watching it at 1.30pm, a fine Velvet Scoter flew north very close in, I spent too long admiring it through the bins, as I was just a little too late trying to get the camera onto it. Back at Ness Point as it was low tide no Purple Sands, but 2 Turnstones posed on the rock bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun. Back home I read on Twitter of a Mealy Redpoll by weeds just north of Bird's Eye, I drove straight back and walking up to the weedy patch just east of the net posts and immediately spotted the bird, the excellent Mealy Redpoll, perched in some tall vegetation feeding voraciously on seeds. It later flew up to another stem, feeding more out in the open. Some dog walkers, decided to walk straight past me and enquire what it was, which wasn't what I needed when I was still trying to secure some pics. On Monday 14th, a Grey Wagtail was heard calling over the house, as I left for work

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ness Point Goodies

On Sunday 12th November, on a wet and gloomy Ness Point afternoon, I walked down to the Coastguards, the fine Snow Bunting flew up to the Coastguards perimeter fence and by positioning myself behind the Sailors rest cabin, it eventually came down and fed on the seeds on the grassy vegetation growing out from the edges of the concrete. A dog walker walked down the steps and flushed the bird back onto the wall again as did 3 cyclist coming the other way up the steps, but again after another several minutes the bird flew down to the floor resumed its feeding regime. I was joined by Derek M and his wife and we watched it, a little while longer. Walking over to Hamilton Dock, I spotted the 1st winter Eider drake far away in the channel leading into Hamilton Dock, where it swam towards the rocks (eastern end). I pointed the bird out to Derek. Later on a 1st winter Shag swam from right to left, really close in the missel. Back at the Snow Bunting it fed even closer, using the Sailor's cabin as cover it fed down to 20 feet. A calling Rock Pipit flew right low over the rocks and then over the wall disappearing south. Whilst at Ness Point, on the ledge, 3 Purple Sandpipers seen too.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Cliff Swallow at Minsmere

When news came through from BINS at 3.45pm that "a bird showing many characteristics of a Cliff Swallow" flying over the Visitors Centre at Minsmere, I almost fell off my seat at work! I was fervently hoping it would stay and go to roost in the reeds which it appeared to do when a message stated it was lost from view and later appeared to have gone to roost in reeds by Bittern Hide. Just before 7am, Robert Will, Ricky & myself turned into the car park at Minsmere which appeared strangely only half full. As it was already light (it appeared at about 6.40am) we decided to walk to west hide and look west at the reedbed. As we waited, a large Egret which could only have been a Great White Egret flew west. We saw Justin & Chris L, and Andrew E and Paul & Jane F here and we got news at around 7.20 that there were hirundine flying around the Sand Martin colony. People broke out into a run, but having pulled a muscle in my leg I could only hobble along. I got to the Sand Martin colony area, and could see the hirundine wheeling about Andrew E said its the one on the left and I first got my bins on a Swallow and then a dark bird, a small thickset Martin with an almost square shaped tail, it was the excellent American Cliff Swallow but it quickly flew left and out of sight. We dashed up to the car park and again saw the birds quickly wheeling around and then right and out of sight. They were then seen flying high over the east and then south scrape they then flew inland and over trees by the Bittern hide, where we lost them behind trees. After around half an hour, we heard they were flying around the north wall bushes by the Stonie field and rushing to the cliff top behind the old visitor centre area just right of the Sand Martin colony we saw the 8 hirundines, the Cliff Swallow was easily picked out looking superficially HM like but with dark drown plumage a pale buffy rump, and a pale rufous nape shawl, whitish on the forehead and chin with buffy rufous on the breast and top side flanks otherwise the underparts were whitish proving it was a 1st winter bird. It was flying around with the other hirundines and when the other alighted on a bush it joined them perching on the extreme left hand end! .

Friday, 4 November 2016

Woodcock & Little Auks

On Thursday 3rd November, a Woodcock was seen running around in the woods at Fallowfields at around 8.15am. 14 Little Auk were seen in total in 75mins this am off Ness Point, I started the watch at 9am, Richard S and Chris M were already there and Peter N and Derek B arrived later. Richard S spotted the first Little Auk flying north aroundd half way out. The Little Auks flew mostly north 2 which originally flew north were joined by 2 flying south and formed a flock of 4 then they all flew north! Little Auks were seen mainly singles or in pairs. Ones seen on the sea, was one then flew south and settled on the sea just by the rocks near the former lookout point. 7 Fieldfare, flew in off, including a flock of 5 that flew over Birds Eye and dropped down just beyond it. 1 tired Fieldfare flew in and settled in the Turbine yard. in off, Around 30 Gannets seen milling around way offshore, around 15 Brents and then 7 Brents flew north, around 35 Common Scoter flew north, & around 7 Red- throated Divers + 5 Auks flying north.