Wednesday, 28 December 2016
On Tuesday 27th December, a walk around Carlton Marshes revealed very little. However walk around Oulton Marshes were a lot more productive. especially when I walked along the reedy area behind the viewing platform near the river. I could hear "tpinging" Bearded Tits and eventually a family party of around 8 birds eventually gave very confiding views down to around 10 feet in the reeds bordering the path. By taking a careful approach, they were obvious to my presence as they feasted ravenously on the reed seeds. Around 120 Wigeon, Heron seen also Plus I heard a Water rail. By the long field just west of the railway line, first one the 2 Short- eared Owls were hunting here. Then suddenly a third bird without warning flew down the dyke towards me and then headed south and out of sight, but was too quick for any shots at all, which was a great shame as they could have been stunning. The remaining 2 Short- eared Owls hunted the field occasionally swooping down on prey on the ground where they would sit for anything between 30 seconds and up to 4 minutes.
On Monday 26 December, Boxing Day, on the drive back home between Dewberry and Reading just west of the M4, a Red Kite was seen. having stopped at a lyby and checked my phone just after Ipswich, news of Bean geese being seen by Burton's Farm, Bradwell on the A143 just west of Bradwell, I diverted my journey back home via Beccles and Bradwell. As I drove along the A143 I could seen around 60 Pink- footed Geese in flight. Parking up along the A143 on the opposite side of the road to the field alongside Ricky's car. I looked across and confirmed they were Pink- foots, Ricky didn't have any Beans in sight, but as I was setting up, he had expertly picked out one recently landed bird along the left hand end of the flock. We also spotted another 5 further into the flock and directly in front of the blue road sign and a further 8 Bean geese directly in front of goal in the field. So 14 Rossicus Tundra Bean Geese seen in total, my first in 7 years. Plus a smaller bird (just in from the left hand end of the flock) with orange legs back on eventually proved to be a White- fronted Goose when it turned around sporting black scalloping on the belly and the white facial shield. More Geese were joining and we estimated around 340 Pink- footed Geese.
On my first walk along Cymisfael stream this Christmas, I saw a Buzzard fly from the hedge in the field past the stream on the right. Between the bridges by the open fields, 2 squabbling Nuthatches flew to a bush on the east side of the road and showed briefly well before flying off again. Walking back along the stream, 2 Mistle Thrush flew up high into the tree rattling as they went. Whilst a Song Thrush sang from another tree nearby. by the Penybank farm bridge, a Dipper was seen on a horizontal branch to perched for 2 minutes before flying a little way down the stream, I even heard it singing at one stage, only the second time I have heard a Dipper in song (first time was at the Harlequin Duck near Aberdeen in 2015) Walking back again to the bridges, in the alder trees around 5 Siskin were seen wedding on the alders needs all males. There was also a fine male Bullfinch briefly in the bush by the side of the road before it inevitably flew. There were also 5 Redwing perched high up in a tree further along. Second visit on Christmas Day afternoon, there were a lot more Redwing, 30 seen by the stream and another 35 seen by the trees any the bridges. Looking south by the quarry area, a Red Kite was seen wheeling around. A female Grey wagtail was by the mature heap area, plus 2 Goldcrests seen here too. By the stream a Coal Tit seen in overhanging foliage overhead. Later on at Mum's up to 3 Red Kite seen flying and soaring over the horse field and even one directly over the garden and even seen from my bedroom window!
Monday, 26 December 2016
On Thursday 23rd December, having arrived in Wales to spend Christmas with my Mum, Thursday was easily the best day to go birding as the default weather for Wales is rain. The forecast was for the odd shower punctuated by sunny intervals. Travelling down to Haverfordwest, I encountered a couple of rain showers and took the B road, easily found amazingly enough on what I had considered the most confusing road layout of any British town I had encountered but the signing has improved and dramatically and within 20 minutes I was drawing up into the village taking the right hand bend by the church and seeing a dog walker, he helpfully told me where Croft's Villas were (just further along the road and I parked right outside no.5 where the bird had been first spotted. This bird is the first recorded sighting of this, a sub species of our Pied Wagtail, this race is normally found in Kazakhstan, Iran or and Afghanistan and is therefore way off course. Possibly brought over here by the recent cold weather over there and the prevailing easterly air stream over much of the previous autumn. Another birder was there and during the next 90 minutes the bird proved elusive, I heard and saw somewhat high pitched "Pied Wag" call and a bird fly left looping over some of the back gardens but appeared to settle in the out of view. I walked down the road checking other sites and as soon as I got back we were talking and I suddenly saw a wagtail fly down onto the road right where we were standing barely 10 metres away, I raised my bins and it was the beautiful Masked Wagtail! What an incredible bird and easily one of the highlights of the year! It then ran towards us and was within 3 feet of us, it was actually too close for the camera! The other chap put some bread down in the middle of the road and it kept returning to feed on this. It was an incredibly confiding bird being seen down to 3 feet. I took pictures of it on the road, the side of the road and when it fed on a few maggots it found on the grass verge. It then flew (giving a higher pitched call than your usual Wagtail and confirming my earlier suspicion that the bird seen earlier had indeed been this bird) up to a parked van where we saw it perch on its roof. It then returned to the road again feeding from the bread but a van driving down the road flushed it and it flew past the houses and away. We though that was it when another birder arrived, but within 10 minutes it was back feeding from the bread on the road again, having a little rest at the side of the road. Then it mean towards us and then ran further down the road, before it flew up to some cars, a garden wall. Then flew up to the roof guttering of the houses it worked along here, before flying back down onto the road again and I took more pics by the side of the road. Sunny intervals helped with the photography too. When I left I also saw a Pied Wagtail. I decided to drive all the way down to Marloes, parking in the NT car park at the end, I walked over the style and immediately heard the "Keeyah" call, a bit like a child's musical trumpet toy, and saw an excellent Chough flying right overhead. As the point, I saw a Chough, but before I could get any photos the 2nd birder from Camrose appeared and tried to get pictures himself by walking straight up to it (he had a 300mm lens). I met him and explained we'd need to use a bit of fieldcraft and approach low to the ground and slowly. I then spotted 2 Choughs to our right, one in particularly was intent on probing dung for insects and we managed to get quite close and it walked over to some rocks where we obtained some shots. he then left and the birds flew over the path and were probing in other dungs heaps and I managed to get reasonably close without disturbing them before a runner flushed them completely! As I walked back, I was pleased to see they had returned to the same area and looking over the western cove, a Grey Seal stuck its head out of the water and 5 adult Kittiwakes flew right to left.By the muddy area by the style I was pleased to see my 3rd wagtail of the day, a drab female Grey Wagtail was feeding by the steam. Walking back to the car, it was somewhat disconcerting to see 3 Oil Tankers travelling past Skomer and this wonderful environment to the Milford Oil Terminal. On a much better note, In the field behind the car park, I saw 4 Chough probing the ground, whilst another Chough flew past them, calling as it flew by. So, together with the pair at the point remaining faithful to the area, I had seen a total of 7 Chough, a great tally!
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Monday, 19 December 2016
Saturday, 17 December 2016
Glad to get 3 pictures (although I'm only credited with two (!!) in the 2015 Suffolk Birds report, the Slavonian Grebe at Covehithe Broad in December, the Black Tern at Lowestoft in August (wrongly labelled as Sean N)- it's definitely my picture and I can prove it! This has been done before in a previous year with my picture of a Woodchat Shrike at the Oval published with someone else's name on it!) plus the escaped Black Kite at Wrentham.
On Friday 16th December, walking back to the Burrage Centre at James Paget Hospital, I heard and saw around 200 Pink- footed Geese flying overhead in a massive "V" at around 3.30pm. On Saturday 17th December, at 3pm, at least 2 Pink- footed Geese heard going west but I didn't see them.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
On Sunday 11th December, by Scratby Hall, I parked just west of the grounds and walked along the western then southern perimeter bumping into Pete M and other who said it had just shown. Walking further along a footpath, first beside the Hall Grounds and then bordering an arable field with an isolated copse of bushes and a couple of trees. Birders were peering in here, a movement was seen flitting diagonally up and then a small greyish looking warbler flew across to the trees by the edge of the path. The grey pallor, whitish supercilia and wing bars seen very briefly but enough to confirm it as the superb Hume's Warbler. After 10 minutes, it started calling, at one time constantly for a couple of minutes, and it was seen flitting about by some ivy, where it perched on the left hand edge showing well for a minutes or two before it flew back to the edge of the trees. It then disappeared but calls from the copse revealed the super Hume's Warbler seen along the left hand edge of the copse showing well giving good scope views at 12.30pm. As I drew up and parked right out in front of the house, as I got out an explosive "whirr" of wings revealed a cock Pheasant that just flew north it appeared from out passageway and low over the close and away north. A tweet from Jeremy G, the drake Goosander, a very "pink looking bird" seen at Lound Lakes from Fen Barn car park although on the far side. It dived regularly and initially seen over the far side. By the car park, a Grey Wagtail flew east and a calling Redpoll flew over west. 85+ Gadwall seen also.
Sunday, 4 December 2016
On Sunday 4th December, at Oulton Marshes, Bearded Tits heard in the reeds by the river overflow but a surprising strong east wind kept them low in the reeds. A female Stonechat perched briefly on a bush and a Heron stood on the path ahead. At Martham Broad, initially didn't see there GN Diver but walking up and then back again. The bird swam back from the left arm of the broad, a fine Great Northern Diver swam right by the Mute Swans then swam further over only showing reasonably well when the light had dropped a little. 2 (1 a male) Marsh Harriers flew over at the back and a further 25 Mute Swans flew in. Walking back, 7 Red- legged Partridge seen in the field to the south. Half way up the Horsey straight, a group of around 40 Swans included 4 fine Bewick's Swans seen in the northern end of the flock. I was delighted to see 2 excellent Cranes on the seaward field right hand side of the road, the Cranes flew west and over the road they flew over the inland field then flew south towards East Somerton village. Nice to see Paul & Jane F at the Someron car park and catch up.
Thursday, 1 December 2016
On Wednesday 30th November, a Sparrowhawk flew up and perched on the roof of the James Paget Hospital in the afternoon. sadly no Masked Wagtails seen amongst the 40 or so Pied Wagtails that scattered following the arrival of this apex predator. In the garden in the evening at 8pm, I heard at least 2 Magpies rattling call was heard almost constantly. One even flew into the Fallowfields hedge beyond the garden fence.