Sunday, 23 April 2017
On Thursday 20th April hot news from 3.30pm onwards meant it was hotfoot to Carlton Marshes, taking the western end, I saw Tony B & Neville L on the way up where I joined a few birders, Matthew D & others. The excellent Black- winged Stilt was feeding on the back pool. By the west side of the scrape a White Wagtail seen, it was always on the move as was a male Wheatear seen in the adjoining field.
On Tuesday 18th April whilst driving to Tesco Gunton at 7.30pm it was practically dark and a Song Thrush was feeding on the sliver of grass just by the Petrol station. On Friday 21st April, a fine male House Sparrow was singing on top of the hedge by the former bowling green at the Burrage centre at lunchtime and at 4.20pm always nice to hear and see and all too rare sight these days sadly.
Monday, 17 April 2017
On Easter Saturday 15th April, I travelled to Minsmere. 3 Wheatear were seen on the North field 2 males and 1 female. One of the males was quite close showing on the ridge. From the East Scrape, around 30 Black- Tailed Godwits seen, plus around 15 Dunlin. 3 Minsmere ticks today included A wonderful black Adder which was seen on the beach, a couple had seen a normal Adder here and I stuck around in the hope that I would see it. I didn't but I did find a wondeful Blackadder (no not Rowan Atkinson but a totally black snake (save for its face) initially initially looking like a piece of old tyre curled up on the path, especially when it flattened its body down to maximise the surface area of its skin to drink up the sun's rays. I managed to see this reptile for around 14X over the course of a couple of hours. Plus a Slow Worm also seen deep in the grass its head peering up was another first at Minsmere and 2 Common Lizards also sighted, perilously close to the Adder resting on a piece of warm wood. 4 Sandwich Terns flew overhead helpfully calling alerting me to their presence. 2 Stonechats , a pair also seen by the bushes on the beach by the sluice. The third Minsmere tick was a Male Mandarin on West Scrape with a female Mallard following him around everywhere. When I first saw him he swam over to an island scrambled up past 2 nesting Mediterranean Gulls, he then swam around the island closely followed by the female Mallard and then both birds flew right over the hide and over to the west.
Friday, 14 April 2017
On Sunday 9th April, news of an American Wigeon on Breydon had me popping over there and scanning from just past the hide, looking over the other side a very distant male American Wigeon was seen. After a while it flew much closer and swam even closer in the company of around 30 Wigeon. Whilst we were looking at it Steve ? found a male Kentish Plover running on a muddy spit, two great Breydon birds! Monday 10th April, a female Wheatear seen in the fenced off area at the Caravan park N.Denes this evening plus I couldn't fail to notice a big pile rubbish dumped in the weedy area north of Bird's Eye = Travellers still present. On On Friday 13th April, a walk around a cold and leaden sky at Carlton marshes the mood was lifted immediately with 2 Swallows flying over the field to the south of the car park and a Sedge Warbler showing well in a bare bush at the edge of the reeds along the path running parallel with Spratts water (around 8 heard in all) and a Willow Warbler showing and singing (around 5 heard in all) from the top right of a tree nearby. As I walked down to the scrape, half way down an excellent Short- eared Owl flew low over the path around 100 yards ahead and we saw it flying around the fields to the west and south of the scrape for the duration of my visit. I joined Chris M and he said he hadn't seen the LRP but I was lucky and picked it up straight away, a fine Little Ringed Plover and pointed it out to Chris. 5 Shovelor, 3 Gadwall, nesting Lapwing, the odd Snipe were also seen on the scrape, plus 3 overflying Swallows. As we walked back, just before dusk we saw 3 very suspicious looking youths loitering 1/3 of the way down the main path one lit a cigarette (hopefully not arsonists or junkies) and then taking the path to Whitecast Marshes then they came back 10 minutes later finally they took the path to Spratts water, past the turnstile they then ran into the bushes just to the west of the long straight path. Chris called the Police on 101.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
On Saturday 8th April, in the evening I briefly spotted a summer plumaged Black- tailed Godwit on the public scrape at Carlton marshes but dog walkers (with their dog on a lead) may have caused it to walk behind a island from where I was viewing and it disappeared! walking up the western end of the scape, we met gavin D and he pointed out a fine female Yellow Wagtail feeding on the astern end of the scrape. I spotted what i thought was a White Wagtail in flight and this was confirmed when Andrew said he had a White Wagtail on a western part of the scrape on a grassy island.
On Saturday 8th April, I started at Wrentham looking for the escaped Black Kite, no luck with that, although 2 Chiff- Chaffs heard, although I did bump into Paul & Jane F which turned out to be a very fortuitous meeting. Next stop was the Westleton area, an initial look I could hear 2 Wood Larks but I couldn't locate them, as I was sticking strictly to the public footpath and it was potential breeding habitat. Another southern area from here, I bumped into a Nature group he pointed out a good area for Adders, initially I didn't see any. I did see several Linnets, including 1 returning to a same area of gorse that I kept clear of. I met up with Paul & jane F, who had just seen ten minutes ago, a Raven going north, as we split up, I looked in the corner by a bench near a bracing area and was delighted to see a male Adder moving away to under a gorse bush. I called them over but was the only one toes it briefly under the gorse bush. Spreading out again, Jane called me over and we could see a Male Adder "hidden" in the leaf litter as it showed around 8 inches of its body clearly visible which was flatten to increase the surface area to warm up. Paul arrived and as we looked suddenly out of nowhere, or under the leaf litter o be precise a female Adder (with brown zigzag striping) appeared and curled around the male who now appeared and they both moved deeper into the bush. As we moved away, another male Adder (probably the original one I had observed) moved to our right. Paul then spotted a bird in the sky, he said I've got something here, I looked it was all black, Buzzard- sized (indeed when compared with a nearby Buzzard it appeared the same size) and a very obvious diamond shaped tail I said "It's a Raven!" it circled several times and then flew purposefully east and then south. It showed a jowly jowl, thick black beak. Splitting up again briefly behind an area of gorse along the northern edge, I spotted a fine Brimstone. Paul and Jane then took me to an area where they had seen Wood Larks. It was clearly a feeding area and not breeding habitat, as we walked along a public footpath bordering some bare arable fields with a few very isolated grassy clumps (around 5% coverage of the field) dotted about. Jane spotted them first, 2 fine Wood Larks and we were around 100 feet away from them and they fed totally unconcerned by us. After a while one flew up to a dead tree and staying strictly on the footpath, I managed to obtain a few shots from about 100 feet away (I enclose an uncropped pic, remember I am using a 500mm lens with 1.4 converter attached on a 7D Mark II with 1.6X crop and not a full frame camera); from the angle of the pic you can see its taken from some distance away as the perch was around 18 feet high) and still on the public footpath, it even briefly called for 10 seconds a bit of its sub song. It stayed on its perch for around 5 minutes, before it flew down to the arable field rejoining the other bird and again if anything, both birds were even closer to the public footpath than before, but slightly obscured by vegetation, and all 3 of us left not wanting to disturb either bird from the footpath where we had remained during the whole period of observation, we finally left both birds still feeding away undisturbed in the field. An Henham quarry road, I spotted a fine male Orange tip butterfly fly across the road.
Friday, 7 April 2017
On Tuesday 4th April, at 1.15pm after exiting Scrublands Health centre following a work presentation, on the roof opposite I spend a hybrid Hooded Crow, (1/4 Hooded Crow and 3/4 Carrion Crow) it then flew towards and over me. In the evening after work, a very grim evening around Lowestoft checked North Denes, Oval, Ness Point, Turbine yard and Hamilton Dock. Only bird seen was a Purple Sandpiper amongst 8 Turnstone on the promontory at Ness Point.
Friday, 31 March 2017
Waiting for a sofa to be delivered on Friday March 31st was eventful as I heard 2 Chiff- Chaffs calling from Fallowfields, a Song Thrush plus a Small White and 1 Peacock seen in the garden briefly. In the wildlife pond, I was delighted to see 4 Caddis Fly larvae. One was crawling up a twig and I managed to secure some pics. Having visited the dump twice to dispose of the old sofa sawn up and dismantled the previous night, I visited the Netposts and unforunatelt Maritime College students were cuprinoling some boat sails all over the net posts area so no Black reds here. A look on the Oval revealed 1 White Wagtail (the far side) and 1 Pied Wagtail. A look at Corton old SW and the holiday park revealed little save for 5 super returning Sand Martins flying over the north end of Sunrise caravan park.
On Thursday 30th March, at 5.50pm, I parked up by the net posts, just north of the Birds eye factory on the North Denies and as I got out of the car I could see an ash- grey female type Black Redstart perched on the nearest post it stayed there for a few short minutes but just flew as I was setting up my camera a dog walker had stopped and was looking with his dog at heel around 40 yards away but even at this range it had spooked the bird. Apparently it had flown to the bushes by the Birds Eye factory as I was informed by another birder from the big lens brigade (exact replica of mine!) It then flew onto the net posts again and was actively feeding at one time it caught a large caterpillar and being around 30 yards away we got some middling shots. As I was photographing this I heard the scratchy song of a male and what must be a male, albeit first year bird in ash grey plumage, the second Black Redstart, of the evening, was seeing on top of the middle of a horizontal post behind us. This birder promptly left, I was soon joined by another this time with a Sigma 150-600mm lens set up his only optical aid (what no bins!) and we saw a Wagtail flock actively feeding and moving initially by the grassy area just north- east of the net posts, various dog walkers were pushing them north- west from here. At least 3 were fine White Wagtails, 2 of them males.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Having missed for the second weekend running White Wags at Corton, a Wheatear at Corton ORT (Mon after work), Waxwings at Gorleston (Tues after work), I was wondering when my luck would change. It certainly didn't when I took a look at the Netposts late afternoon on Wednesday 29th March, I failed to see the Black Redstart (probably given the runaround by the multitude of visitors here both 2 legged and 4 legged) seen earlier. A look in Hamilton Dock for the Eider that I have missed 4X since it was first seen finally gave itself up and incredibly it was showing really close to Hamilton road, at one point it was on the very edge of the dock. Initially I looked west and saw it albeit against the light slightly but moving down to the fenced part of the car park the sun rays briefly lit up the area and I was able to get some reasonable shots of the bird with the sun behind me. It was a fine male immature Eider, a wonderful bird to see especially as it afforded me very close, even "Ferguson" views, so named because of some friends of mine, really good birders, often get jammy close views! But this reflects the time they spend out in the field which is probably more than I do. I gave OFB a ring and he said he would come straight away! As I looked back at the muddy spit, waders included 4 Turnstone, 3 Oystercatchers and a fine but unexpected Bar- tailed Godwit moulting into summer plumage. I saw on the concrete step and the bird was constantly feeding just in the water as it fed ever closer until it turned and started walking back constantly feeding. It was later seen on the mud in the eastern corner. As Roger arrived literally a minute after I had seen it was gone and the male Eider was bony rapidly swimming away and poor Roger saw it feeding by the sand bank over the far side of the dock.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
On Saturday 25th March, in the garden, a Peacock butterfly settled briefly on the ground before flying off. I walked down to the scrape at Carlton Marshes, the fine male Garganey was swimming on the scrape in the distance and joined Teal, when they were spooked and it flew to the right around 20 yards. Later a Water Pipit flew up and calling flew towards Oulton marshes. Walking back I counted 15 Small Tortoiseshells and 1 Peacock all settled on the north path by Whitecast marsh. By the east wood, 3 Chiff- Chaffs were singing from the alders plus 2 Goldfinches seen and a female Siskin. On Sunday 26th Marsh by the old Coastguards garden, opposite Battery green and the multi- storey car park, a fine female Firecrest was seen flitting in a bush in the south east corner.
Friday, 24 March 2017
On Friday 24th March, a quick look around Hamilton Dock, Ness Point, Oval, Netposts & North Denes produced virtually nothing only notable bird seen was a female Sparrowhawk flew out of a small pine opposite the entrance to the Oval and flew towards the entrance.
Monday, 20 March 2017
On Sunday 19th March, I headed down to Minsmere and on entering the North hide, on first scan across I picked up the male Garganey asleep on the bank to the west of the hide in the foreground looking right just left of the West hide. Typically in resplendent plumage. On closer inspection I could also see the female Garganey also asleep sat just right of a male Teal. Nice to see after missing this species repeatedly last year on several unsuccessful trips to Minsmere in the spring. As the female stood on the bank, it was striking that she had a really pale cream underbelly. Constant scans of the marshy area to the east of the hide failed to pick up any of yesterdays quartet of Jack Snipe the best I could find were 3 Snipe. I also tried in vain to catch sight of an early sand M all to no avail. A Buzzard flew over the trees in the distance leading inland of Sizewell Power station. Sawbills were elusive for me, as I failed to see the Smew or the Goosanders at Island Mere. Little else seen there. With time pressing, I headed back home and was delighted to see 2 adult Frogs in the fish pond sat guarding the frogspawn. Heading just round the corner to Oulton Community centre, only a minute after I arrived, I heard the distinctive "kee-kee-kee" screeching of a Ring- necked Parakeet and the female Ring- necked Parakeet flew in from the east at 5.20pm right past me, I could see the bird was a female (no neck collar) and she perched up in trees just west of 20 (Woodlands) Oulton Street, the tree with 3 Rooks nests in it. She perched on the right hand side, a green bird with very long tail. I quickly set up my scope but then looked again and she had gone! Nofurther sign for me. At Ness Point in fading light, I saw 5 Purple Sandpipers on the far rocks just opposite the compass, 1 flew north before I left and later 6 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks by the NE corner of Ness Point, as I couldn't rule out the birds seen later flying a little way north after I had left the compass viewing area, I had to conclude I had seen a total of 6 Purple Sandpipers rather than 10!
Saturday, 18 March 2017
On Saturday 18th March, at 4am I could hear the rhythmic 'purring" of courting frogs coming from the fish pond, on investigation later in the day 2 adult Frogs seen plus an athletic smaller one that lept away when I approached the pond. This purring was a lovely sound and I'm sure its the result of counting frogs, it was very therapeutic. At 8am, I was walking around the south side of Carlton Marshes, hoping to see the Diver, I initially saw little on the Scrape although 3 Lapwings were in display flight on fields to the left (south). As I took the path to walk around the west side of the scrape and join the irrigation ditches by the sluice, passing a Mute swan, on a soke dyke, I noticed the fine Red- throated Diver showing well and I crawled slowly along but when the bird had dived and was able to run quickly into position without disturbing the bird. The bird was fishing around 20- 30 feet away but in my crouched position the reeds were obscuring most views but patience enable me to get some shots when it swam into some unobscured areas of the dyke. I also noticed Andrew E crouch down along the northern bank path. We had some superlative views of the bird that spent most of its time in the western corner of the dyke, but it would make occasional forays into the middle of the dyke occasional fishing and catching the odd Stickleback. It was noticeable overtime dog walkers went past even if the dogs were on lead or close at heel (pleased to report most were) it unsettled the Diver and it had been asleep on the bank it woke up and rather ungainly scrambled down to the water. If it was in he water it would swim to the furthest eastern part of the dyke and giving us superlative views down to 9 feet at times! We viewed at these times from the iron fence where I was joined by Andrew E and Rob Will who had just arrived. With Lowestoft's finest here (Andrew & Rob not me!) it wasn't long before Andrew spotted a Red Kite (with a primary missing) flying over it flew past the scrape and then hanging over Share Marsh, being fairly low (just above or below the distant telegraph lines) we had prolonged views and ecven saw it later over a south- west wood at 10.50am, Rob spotted one, a distant second Red Kite, an immaculate bird (no primaries missing) flying in from the west. It flew right over us and then flew over the Scrape and then over Share marsh. Other raptors included 6+ Buzzard flying around including 3 together, a female Marsh Harrier and Kestrel. 2 Water Pipits flew singly to the scrape with a higher pitched 'seep" call. Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron (flying around) and Redshank also seen on the scrape.
On Tuesday March 15th, I spied the 8 inch circular diameter of frogspawn in the fishpond first thing. having a look around for butterflies and some early reptiles, so no 500mm lens with me. I was only able to see a Comma butterfly that was by the 2nd A site, the far western end around half way along by the path right hand side as you walk north. As I was walking back just before the old car park by a line of tall pines aligned direct due west in the middle trees 9where the old log pile used to be) I heard a pine cone drop and suspecting Crossbills, I looked up and was surprised to see a large Mealy Redpoll, feeding on a pine cone! A large almost crossbill- sized bird, looking fairly white as I looked at it back on but with a streaked white rump and a couple of white tramlines down its back and reddish front cap patch and forked tail. Another bird flew out and perched on a bare conifer branch half way up the tree, a fine female Brambling she stayed on her perch for a good ten minutes.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
On Wednesday 15th March, an early start out at Santon Downham, from the bridge we walked a mile east along the river, hearing calling Yellowhammers, until we reached a fallen down tree where the footpath diverts, just before that I heard the faint tapping of a Woodpecker but couldn't see anything as we arrived here. About an hour and a half later we heard the kee-kee-kee call of a Lesser- spotted woodpecker but again couldn't locate it. We saw around a dozen Redwings here. We left at 10.50am had we stayed until 11am we would have bumped into Carl B, Ali, Maurice & Roy, who saw it at 11am. We reached the Goshawk site around 20 minutes later and there were already 3 cars here. Including the very sharp tour leader Marcus N, who picked up our target birds. Almost immediately we saw a fine immature Goshawk flying around and then brief views of an adult Goshawk.Later on the immature Goshawk flew right in front of the woods good views through the scope showing distinctive broad wings and a reasonably long tail with dark brown banding on a lighter grey tail. Carl B, Ali R, Roy H and Maurice B then turned up just before the Goshawks started to show really well. The upper parts were mottled brown above and dark bands on the flights feathers, a really smart bird. Later adult Goshawk the flew left looking almost Buzzard sized with great big fluffy cotton wool almost wrap around undertail coverts, grey upper parts dark hood around the eye and whitish underparts with shortish tail and a heavy hip. It later flew right. we also saw around a dozen Buzzards and a smaller Sparrowhawk. Whilst travelling a mile south of this site, I spotted a fine Red Kite flying over the field. We then went to another site for Great Grey Shrike where we bumped into Mick F, who'd just been watching it, it had just dropped down and out of sight by an island of bushes and a couple of small bare trees. In a fenced arable type field, I saw 2 Wood Larks fly in, really well marked birds looking almost 'Whinchat like' but they then run down a furrow away from us but were later seen feeding in the furrow half way down. Meanwhile Roy shouted and we saw the fine Great Grey Shrike perched on top of a very tall mature tree. Later it was seen down a ride of newly planted confers perched on the top of these too. We then searched for Tim's camera bag as he couldn't find it, apparently it had been mistakenly taken and with the power of twitter and Keith D's help from Great Yarmouth we were able to reconnect Tim with his camera and big relief all around. Next stop was Santon Downham, down the feeder tunnel, a Nuthatch kept coming to the peanuts from the right hand bird feeder and a female Brambling drank from the concrete water ground dispenser. The tour leader then picked up 2 male Hawfinches and two fine male were feeding on white blossom near a distant tree. Walking down to the bridge, a Crossbill came to drink by a watery area we overlooked albeit obscured totally by reeds. It flew off but then 2 Crossbill, and finally a further 5 Crossbill flew into a bare tree and later flew up to a tall tree where the 7 Crossbills including a male, immature male, female and at least 2 immature birds. By a very close bird feeder, male Reed Bunting and Great and Blue Tits seen feeding here. Back at the tunnel a fine male Brambling drank from the concrete trough and later perched in vegetation by the right feeders. Jenny informed me she had seen some frogspawn in the fish pond later today.
On Friday 10th March a calling Grey Wagtail again heard from the garden at 11.18am, travelling along the A!43 just west of Ellingham at 12 noon saw a migrant Red Kite circling low over the fields by the road. On Saturday 11th, a Grey Wagtail them joined by its mate, seen by the viaduct by Byron's Pool near Grantchester and 2 Chiff- Chaff heard plus 4 Redwing in Grantchester meadow. On Sunday 12th March, at the Cambridge Botanic Garden, a Green Woodpecker seen in a tree plus 10 Redwings were in the trees on the eastern perimeter of our accommodation at Lord Byron Inn.
7 March- c20 Waxwings in tree just south of the Ole Frank Pub, Gresham Ave, Oulton, Lowestoft 7.15am 4 Goosander (2 male, 2 female) Oulton Broad fr Yacht club + a Cormorant drying its wings on the jetty by the yacht sailing club 7.30-8.40am , missed Slav Grebe seen by RCS 7.15am where has it gone? On 9 March- a calling Grey Wagtail just flew v.low & W over garden patio as we were having lunch , Fallowfields, Lowestoft-we saw its yellow belly! 1.51pm Redhead Goosander 1 still Oulton Broad otherwise appears to be a mass clear out today at Lowestoft- no Slav Grebe, no HMs & no Waxwings 3 Frogs calling to each other in the fish pond, in garden today no sign of frogspawn so far!
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
On Sunday March 5th, there was no sign of the House Martins Kirkley House/ CEFAS labs early am have they moved on? Back home a calling Red- legged Partridge v.briefly landed in Bosquet Close 8.49am it ran behind some parked cars and even before I had time to go out with camera, cat (not ours!) flushed it off! 63 Waxwings regularly (3X) returning to tree by Ole Frank pub, Gresham Ave, Lowestoft up till 9.45- 10.15am at least 2 colour ringed birds. 17 Waxwing again at Chedgrave Ave, Lowestoft 3.30pm, 2 female Eiders 4pm on the sea one straight out 100 yds out off Arbor Lane, Pakefield. By the grain silo, a Peregrine perched on the top rail of the tower, later a 1st Winter Shag Lake Lothing was seen swimming on the river at Asda before flying west over the river.
On Saturday 4th March 66 Waxwing (flew in groups of 20, 40, 6) Gresham Ave by Ole Frank pub again on berries, between 9 - 9.12am then flew high NW. A fine Slavonian Grebe seen very distantly along the west end of Oulton Broad swam along with 5 Great crested Grebes it swam left and then suddenly it swam right ahgain towards the distant blue and white cruiser boat. A Redhead Goosander we initially thought had a green head proved to rufous coloured an a female, it suddenly flew towards us and settled near the yacht club. Oulton Broad plus a Common Sandpiper at Mutford Lock this afternoon, no sign of the House Martin early afternoon or late pm.
Monday, 27 February 2017
On Sunday 26th February, I had perked up as I thought I was going down with the flu on Fri/ Sat, first visit was for the totally unexpected House Martin seen flying around the Kirkley House at dusk. A very early start was in order and I got there just after first light at 7.15am. The Kirkley House is the first red brick building 100 yards south of Claremont Pier from the main cliff top path on the lanyard side. walking up to it and standing in the car park next to it, I was amazed to find not 1, but 2 (TWO) House Martins, absolutely fantastic, it also meant I'd found one (also fantastic!) They were flying around very close to the top/ roof of the building initially. I checked both to make certain they were House Martins and not something rarer. The black above, white below and white rumps and forked tails confirmed my initial ID. Only problem was they were impossible to photo with my big lens and I couldn't tweet news out. The only thing for it was go home grab my 400mm lens and tweet it out on the computer at home. So 7.45am, I did just that returning with my 400mm lens the birds were still there flying a wider arc this time and I was quickly joined by Andrew E and Paul & Jane F. We did obtain "Ferguson" views of the birds especially as one flew right over our heads! Still just as difficult to photograph, Andrew as always got the best shots, I struggled on this front. Next stop was the junction of Stradbroke and Lansdowne road, Wakefield, initially no luck so did a tour of Kilburn/ Cranesbill road nearby usually a happy hunting ground for me. Still no luck I was about to give up when a tweet came through saying they had been seen at the junction. I phoned Jane she stay there. Within 10 minutes 17 Waxwings flew in to the bushes by the side of the road. They quickly flew back north west and we counted more on a large bare tree. Later even more flew to the trees/ bushes and I definitely counted 40 Waxwings. It was great to see them fly to the bushes and fed voraciously. I then went to and the pair of Peregrines were flying around giving good views, nice to see them sparring in midair. At Ness Point, initially no sign of the Purple Sands, but the Viking Gull was seen briefly perched on the groyne north of there. I didn't have the camera equipment but running back with the gear it had disappeared. I saw Steve P and friend. We both saw 2 Rock Pipits one healthy one.
Saturday, 25 February 2017
Later on on Saturday 18th February, a walk along Breydon south wall and looking across from Humberstone path looking in a south easterly direction, I counted the distant flock of 102 Geese, 99 were Tundra Bean Geese, 1 a Taiga Bean Goosewith paler plumage and more orangey bill and 2 White- fronted Geese. A Marsh Harrier flew over here too. A walk out to Fritton woods, just before we joined the area of trees by the mound, we heard the excellent "chip chip" calls of Crossbills and we saw 4 birds fly over the clearing, over our head and alight onto the tops pines by the copse edge adjoining the clearing, one was a male and another an immature bird, great to see this quartet of birds my first since the decimation of many pines and the much missed heather by the power lines. Looking out over Haddiscoe island, up to 3 Short- eared Owls were hunting one dropped down and we saw it spend a little time on the deck plus 2 Barn Owls (my belated first of the year) and then suddenly a resplendent dapper looking male Hen Harrier, always a joy to see (no surprise when these were also new for the year) and especially so when they are this close flew over the reeds by the river from right to left. We then spent some time admiring it as it hunted the fields further away. Not to be out done, later on a ringtail Hen Harrier flew left to right although a little further out. 1 Buzzard seen perched on a post and another came into roost as the light was going. The inevitable sighting of half a dozen Chinese Water Deer too. Finally walking back through the clearing a Short- eared Owl flew past and 2 Woodcock flew together (yet another new 2017 bird) and away. A great end to the day which started not so well at my hoodoo site of Sotterley.
Monday, 20 February 2017
I have had mixed fortunes at Sotterley (it is the location I dip the most for example I never saw LSW here but for years I was going to the wrong place the temple instead of the park/ church area) and on Saturday 18th February despite 2 hours of extensive searching both the park and the Church area, I failed to see the Hawfinch, other people have seen it without fail in the preceding or following my visit. Other birds such as 4 Nuthatches, 3 Treecreepers and 2 Redwing showed well.
Thursday, 16 February 2017
On Thursday 16th February, early morning I was surprised to see a fine male House Sparrow hopping about the bird feeders placed strategically high up in the trees along the southern edge of the garden. he simply hopped around from foliage to foliage and really nice to see. The last House Sparrow was seen around a year or so ago.
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
On Monday 13th February, 2 Meadow Pipits seen on the grounds of the JPUH Hospital, one flew over the E & EC calling, whislt one flew up at lunchtime by the Burrage Centre and briefly perched on the small roof. Wednesday 15th February at around 3.45pm, driving west along the Acle street I could clearly see at least 3 adult Bewick's Swans close to the road (1 mile west of the Hindu Temple) in the field by the north side of the road in with at least 100+ Mute Swans.
On Sunday 12th february, an initial look at the pools just west of the old car park from the mound failed to spot any Smew, a trudge around the Scrape revealed a Great White Egret standing in the north west corner of the pool behind the West (Wildlife lookout) hide. It was very obvious with its white plumage and long dagger yellow bill. Very little seen on the scrape apart from around a dozen Black- tailed Godwit and a similar number of Dunlin. A chance encounter with a birder I know, he stated he'd just seen the Smew. On the walk back, a female Stonechat seen near the north wall. Back at the mound overlooking the 2 pools the far west did indeed show first a redhead Smew in the far left corner and then the male with its typical white plumage "cracked" black lines on its body and black round the eye, as always a stunning bird. Both birds were slightly obscured by reeds in the foreground. The male was diving frequently but did eventually swim out towards the middle joining the female. Then a Great White Egret flew into the nearer pool and fished for a while in the right hand corner at one stage with a Little Egret and nearby Grey Heron giving a nice comparison of these Heron/ Egret species. It then flew east towards the north scrape.
Sunday, 12 February 2017
On Saturday 11th November on the way to visiting family in Sheringham, I parked at Yarmouth Asda and despite the fact there was a light drizzle, I sheltered under the bridge and scanned for the Glauc at 2pm, Breydon was half way between the peak of high and low tides and there was a channel of water running through the middle but on the muddy bank the other side, I could clearly seen the large biscuit coloured pale winged 1st winter Glaucous Gull with long two tone bill pink with a black tip. In the poor light the lower breast appeared dark but crucially the back was light biscuit coloured and it had pale wing tips and tail. It was stood on the edge of the mud face on. at 3pm on a drive round the old Ludham airfield, a tight huddle of 12 Swans were initially spotted by Jenny and getting out and scoping them the delicate black and yellow bills identified them as 12 Bewick's Swans. Around 20 Fieldfare flew over the road near Gunton, North Norfolk.
Sunday, 5 February 2017
I decided to look at Fisher Row, Oulton Marshes today, just after 10am I was walking down the entrance hill, a Jackdaw perched in a tree. walking around to the viewing platform, I counted 209 Wigeon and around 12 Teal seen, plus 5 distant Snipe. Dog walkers and a young family hanging around didn't bode well for the Beards but after half an hour I located them at the usual place just past the platform on the left and incredibly there were around 12 Bearded Tits on the ground running around like mice feeding on presumably fallen reedmace. Sadly they were always obscured by tufts of grass and I didn't want to get too close for fear of flushing them. Occasionally, they flew up into reeds and a bird straddling two reeds showed particularly well as did an adult male feeding near the top of a stem, another photographer approached from the other side and I indicated the birds were there and he carefully stalked them. All was going really well until the inevitable happened and a dog walker with a dog of the lead flushed all the birds and they flew across the path or way down the dyke and south and were not seen again, unsurprisingly. Finally a female Stonechat seen by the dyke on the east side of the path. I moved onto the field where the SEO's were seen I walked half way north down the path to the pump house and was rewarded with one Short- eared flying along the dyke by the railway lined over the field itself. I was later joined by Rob H and we saw up to 2 Short- eared Owls plus another seen at the same time, a third Short- eared Owl in the distance flying over the reeds south of the footpath being watched by the Owl paparazzi. Out hearts were in our mouths once when it flew low over the railway line and a train rushed through fortunately no collision. One Short- eared owl would suddenly fly over to our field and on 3 occasions when they dropped to the ground they had what appeared to be field voles, one clearly seen in the beak of the bird and then carried off it flew a short way north and dropped down into reeds to further gorge on its prey. Another time when it caught prey a Kestrel harried it. walking back, one of the photographers pointed out a fine Kingfisher perched on a reed by the side of a dyke nearby giving good scope views.
Saturday, 4 February 2017
Norfolk First stop was Mautby pig fields, where predictably enough , when I had just arrived by a side road overlooking pig fields to the right, west of the road, the Iceland had just flown. Driving down to the far end, you could look back up the fields and pig field area but again as I arrived the Gull flock took to flight again and I missed it again. Heading back to where I started up to 5 Mediterranean Gulls seen. The first bird seen was an adult winter- plumage bird wheeling around, another adult winter bird seen, plus 1 adult partial summer plumage, developing a black hood, 1 2nd winter bird and 1 1st year bird. Looking immediately right/ west a fine Hooded Crow was seen black head, grey mantle black wings & jaggy black breast, contrasting with the pale grey underparts including crucially the grey undertail coverts. It flew and perched near the top or crown of the field before disappearing. It was later seen perched in the crown of a tree before it flew down before finally flying west again. We decided to check the far end. When Justin's friend rolled up saying it just come in a bare field west of the pig fields. Looking we could see a few heads of gulls almost totally obscured by the brow of the field edge. Driving around, we saw a small group of birders and parking just past them I ran down and was directed to the bird which was the 7th bird in from the left. It was an adult Iceland Gull sitting facing us showing yellow bill and greyish nape. After a few minutes the flock flew and the bird flew back to the pig fields briefly settling before it flew left and around over a house and then disappeared with the flock in a north- westerly direction. Next stop was the Clippesby fields near the church and a car was parked by the side of the road and a birder was scoping them from his car. I parked just behind him and counted 205 Geese, there were Pink- footed Geese and at least 20+ Tundra Bean Geese with orange legs a darker brown plumage and dark bill with orange near the tip, but most of the flock were Pink- feet. Next stop Filby, we saw Jeremy G by the bridge (finder of a magnificent BN Grebe by the side of Gorleston Pier) and who better to point out the fine Black- necked Grebe behind the orange floaters, it swam first right past the tern platform and the left. It showed a slim upturned bill and typical winter plumage. Another birder said he had just seen a Red- necked Grebe and sure enough one was seen in the far south west corner of the broad this bird was also swimming left showed typical winter plumage with black/ yellow two- tone bill. Male Goldeneye also seen. On Ormesby Little Broad 2 male and 2 female Goldeneye plus several 8 Great crested Grebes seen.seen. driving back no Cranes in the usual place but driving back along the Acle strait, a large flock of Swans seen a mile west of the Man Dir Hindu Temple (formerly the Stacey Arms/ Cadillac Roadhouse) flock and 2 fine Bewick's Swans seen together at the western end of the flock. Driving back to Lowestoft, I checked the Blood moor road area and struck lucky again, driving up Lansdowne road, I turned right into Kilbourn road and by the junction opposite Honeysuckle Close, perched in a tree on the right were an incredible 27 Waxwing, I counted them 3X to check I had counted them correctly, it tallied each time. They suddenly started trilling in unison and the flew west.
On Friday 3rd February, another A/L day to take and I headed to Southwold Town marshes and parked along the ferry part by the river and walked to the back of the huts, there was a large flock of both 63 European White- fronted Geese with a lone Pink- footed Goose amongst them plus 2 immature Greylag Geese, a large flock of 108 Barnacle Geese and behind another large flock of 112 Canada Geese, a quartet of Pink- footed Geese in a further field, but no sign of the Beans, sadly. A look at Ness Point, it was hide tide and initially 10 Purple Sandpipers were seen on the finger promontory, waves crashing over forced 3 a little closer until they flew by the closer ledge by the compass and they were joined by another making a grand total of 11 Purple Sandpipers, the mid afternoon spotlighted them well and showed the purple off well in their plumage. Nothing else seen at the Point or Hamilton Dock apart from 8 Turnstones.
Monday, 30 January 2017
On Monday 30th January with another A/L day to take, I visited Burgh Castle fort in the hope of seeing the Rough- leg. Some birders had just left, but I joined a lone birder to the western (left end) of the Fort who said it was still there. He pointed out 3 posts by a gate slightly aligned diagonally away from us to the left of the marshes and I saw the bird perched on a post. It soon moved closer flying towards a gate just the other side of the reeds. This fine Rough- legged Buzzard was a really striking bird with pale head and mantle, brownish back, a large gorget of black down its throat and 2 big side flank patches of black flaring out from the lower breast sides. It showed white at the base of the tail bordered first by a chestnut bar then a dark black bar. It was facing us then and turned around facing right. It later flew low over the ground and onto another gate straight out from the fort (the closest one you can see over the river) before flying and settling in a field edge to the side of a dyke by some Greylag Geese, but the local Egyptian Geese took exception, as did a Short- eared owl that repeatedly dive bombed it. Whilst the one Owl kept mobbing it, 2 further Short- eared Owls flew over and east, comprising a great trio of Short- eared Owls!I recorded a 4th Owl for the trip when I heard a Tawny Owl hooting from the copse just west of the Fort. Sadly, I couldn't see it. Finally, walking back, a Redwing was perched up in a berry bush by the car park.
Sunday, 29 January 2017
An early start of 7am on Sunday 29th January saw me driving Rob Wil and James W up to Martin Dales near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. Incredibly, a second White- billed Diver had been spotted on the River Witham for the second time in 21 years. I had tried unsuccessfully to twitch the first one in 1996, that had very unfortunately got a fisherman's hook tangled up into its bill. That poor bird was suffering badly and was quite rightly taken into care, but all this had taken place 20 minutes before si I failed to see the bird, it would have been no joy for me anyway to see such a magnificent bird in distress. So 21 years a later, we parked by the road leading to Kirkstead bridge and walked right along a concrete path for a mile and a half. The path skirted the river and for some time was surrounded by a buffer of hedges skirting the edges. After around 40 minutes walk, we could see a gathering of birders, or more specifically photographers by the riverside, and as I scrambled down the bird instantly popped up, looking in rude health and into view! I finally connected with this very special enigmatic Arctic visitor. It was an amazingly immature White- billed Diver! Sporting the characteristic large upturned "ivory" white banana bill and brown and white plumage that appeared darker in the harsh light. Access was only available down the southern side of the river which meant the river was spotlighted by a very strong sun, making photography difficult with the brown areas of the bird appearing much darker and really bleaching out the white areas. The bird was constantly diving and travelling under water for around 30 yards initially travelling north then south. The bird spent much of its time the far side of the river around 30- 40 feet away but on 3 occasions swam much closer at one stage being barely 15 feet away, it really was giving outstanding views and opportunities for some potential stunning photography! It was only when a birder brought his dogs to the river side that the bird appeared more vigilant and it subsequently spent the next 15 minutes up on the water. This elegant denizen of the Arctic then rose up and flapped its wings before travelling south and diving frequently again. On the fields opposite the track, at the back a gathering of Swans included both 5 Mute and from Scandinavia 2 Whooper Swans right in front of a distant house, Rob heard and called a a Green Sandpiper which I also heard and saw when it flew away right. Also stood out on the close ploughed field rather incongruously were 2 single Little Egrets. Moving onto at Kirkby on Bain looking over Riverslea Lake, a male Ring-necked Duck and immature female Scaup were seen. The Scaup was in the foreground in front of it swimming left . Both ducks were on the far side of the lake (with Wigeon, Tufted Ducks and Pochard around 10 of each) where we were viewing this fine gravel pit complex. The grey/ black and white at the front breast of this North American bird were very distinctive, seen as it spent most of its time asleep but as it swam strongly right, it briefly lifted its distinctive head up sporting its three tone bill (black, white and grey) plus a Great White Egret seen walking in the water of a pit 100 yards further down the road concluding a great day in Lincs. It also emulated my first holiday to Shetland when visiting with Mum, we visited Dennis Coutts photography shop and he told of us about 2 special birds a White- billed Diver at Quenelle and Ring- necked Duck on a loch, its been 40 years since I've been able to see these 2 birds in 1 day again!
It was a case of 13th time lucky as I finally on the Saturday 28th January saw my first Shags in Lowestoft for 2017. Looking from the fence just down from the rail bridge by Lake Lothing one immature Shag was fishing in the water to the east not far from a tightly packed group of 5 Little Grebe and appeared to be swimming closer but it then flew to under "John Lethbridge" wreck perching on the orange jetty underneath it, as I walked along saw the usual 2 Redshank were by the shoreline plus a calling Kingfisher flew past. At Mutford Lock basin nothing seen other than another 2 Redshank and 5 Turnstone. Walking back towards the railway bridge I looked under the John Lethbridge wreck and the original immature Shag had been joined by another immature Shag perched next to it! Looking from Riverside one, a third immature Shag, was on the river to the west and let out of the water when it was diving. From Asda round the I heard the familiar rasping of a Peregrine Falcon and I saw a male bird circling around 3 times before flying half way over the river towards me before it flew east and over the far side.
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Today, I was using up some of my annual leave and you take pot luck with the weather, after 2 brilliantly sunny but cold days we had a cold misty murky day. First stop was the Oulton Broad, a juvenile Cormorant was on the jetty by Mutford Lock but no sign of the mega elusive Shag. Next stop was the Little Owl site at North Cove and no surprises when it wasn't showing. I decided to park at North Cove stature as I though the path would be easier to follow to the riverbank. Having reached the railway line, I was dismayed to see a car already parked probably a dog walker/ birder and guaranteed disturbance if the Goosanders were on the river. Sure enough, a dog walker with 4 dogs and also predictably no Goosanders on the walk down. I did however see 3 separate Water Pipits flying up from the recently enlarged dykes by the river path, great habitat creation from SWT, their white bellies noted and white supercilia clearly seen too plus different flight call i/d'd them. I also saw first a male then a female Stonechat. I met Carl B, who was also after the Goosanders and he decided to walk east. Ten minutes later at 11am, I suddenly stumbled on a lone female Goosander on the river looking very wary and swimming away, I saw 2 further Goosanders and I slowly dropped down but too late, all 6 female Goosanders took to flight and flew west a long way up river. Shame they were so wary I didn't get a chance to get any pics. I couldn't get hold of Carl so I walked back. Opposite North Cove turn, around 12 Red- legged Partridges in the field, Back at Lowestoft at Asda, as I walked to the river, I heard the screeching of a Peregrine calling and a magnificent male Peregrine flew around the grain silo twice and then flew half way over the river before heading east. That was to be it for my birds of today because apart from plenty of Cormorants on the river, 12 , not much else seen, still no sign of any Shags. In the afternoon, another stop at the railway bridge revealed 5 Little Grebe and more Cormorant, but still no Shag, will it be a case of 13th time lucky (in 2017) next time I check? No sign of any Waxwing at or around the vicinity of 99 Oulton Road.
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
On Tuesday 24th January, having some business in Gorleston town centre this lunchtime at around 12.30pm, walking from the high street down the alley way towards Morrison's supermarket, I heard the metallic "Tzshik" call of a Grey Wagtail and I had a good view of a bird flying low over the path and north in undulating flight as it flew.
Sunday, 22 January 2017
A look at Ness Point and I saw Rob Hol raising his lens to photograph something it had flown behind the funnel, I didn't see it. It was the hybrid Glauc X Herring Gull or colloquially known as "Viking Gull", great name but I hadn't seen it yet. We walked down the road to the Bird's Eye entrance and we saw it perched on a low roof, it was the excellent Viking Gull. 2 Purple Sandpipers seen in flight at Ness Point albeit at low tide. At Oulton Broad finally, finally the Common Sandpiper gave itself up to me (after 8 fruitless attempts) showing on the distant rock edge at the basin and even saw off 3 Turnstones that flew off! A Kingfisher then flew over and east. At Outon Broad briefly seeing Rob & erin, we also saw a Kingfisher fly right, I walked off to get the sun behind me and despite the excellent light, I picked out definitely one Yellow- legged Herring Gull, typically brute of a bird, slightly darker Common Gull grey on its mantle and crucially when it stretched its wings it showed the diagnostic grey secondary bar.
A look around Oulton Broad on Saturday 22nd January, looking over Lake Lothing from the railway bridge, Mutford Lock basin and Oulton Marshes failed to reveal the hoped for Shag, Common Sand &/or Goosanders. Nil return until I was at the furthest point at Fisher Row, Rob Will kindly rang to inform me Andrew had found a Glaucous at OB (I'd just been there! It wasn't there then). It took around 30 minutes to drive back to OB and Join Ali, Maurice, Rob Will and James B, watching the excellent biscuit coloured, bi- coloured pink and black bill , first winter Glaucous Gull on the ice. It was there 20 minutes before it flew away on languid flight getting ever higher and circling.
Friday, 20 January 2017
On Friday 20th January, a totally frozen Oulton Broad revealed no Goosanders on a quick look before work this morning, dipped for the second time as I had originally tried for these at Minsmere. I looked at Haddiscoe Church after work this afternoon but no sign of any Gulls.
Sunday, 15 January 2017
A pair of fine calling Bullfinches were heard at 11.30am and on looking out, I saw a male perched in the tree, just beyond the garden with the female perched just right of him, on Fallowfields. They were there for a couple of minutes before flying right.
On Saturday 14th I had limited time to go birding as I had an important trip to see relatives in the afternoon. As I arrived at Beccles along Ellough road and by the junction of Coney Hill, the usual favoured spot with a berry bush on the corner. I noticed one photographer with a 300mm lens stalking really close to the bush and the feeding Waxwing was flushed and flew up to the trees opposite where I parked the car along an adjacent side road. I spied 2 Waxwings perched at the top of the tree. They soon flew back to the bush and I got set up, it started raining and this quickly turned to snow, as I was walking across the birds flew back into the trees and were joined by 2 further Waxwings, that flew in from the south-west. All four birds then occasionally flew down to the bush, fed for a few minutes on the berries before flying back. A shaft of sunlight finally gave a brief window of excellent light to obtain some distant pictures. 4 Fieldfare flew over and perched in the back garden tree of a house over the road and then first one Mistle Thrush then another rattling Mistle Thrush flew overhead and perched in trees lining the other side of the road. Then a male and female Blackbird perched on the berry bush to consume some berries. @ waxwings then flew off and the original 2 Waxwings came down on several occasions. A look at Lake Lothing failed to reveal anything save a lone Redshank. As I entered the north section of Corton woods, several Goldcrests were heard calling, more significantly deeper into the wood, I could finally hear the countering of a Nuthatch, and by the bendy path, by the lone Pine tree, I spotted, at last, the excellent Nuthatch on a vertical branch overhead, it ran along here before flying off after 2 minutes. A Redwing was also heard.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
On Sunday 8th January, a look at Minsmere Island Mere this revealed little. The Goosanders had gone, Bearded Tits were heard and 2 calling Siskins flying over the Rhododendron tunnel. At Dunwich I saw Matthew D who had just seen a flock of 8 Scaup sadly a joy rider on a power boat had scared them right off. However, Matthew had mentioned he'd seen a tight knit group of LT Ducks to the north, I looked and picked out initially several 4 lone Common Scoters and a flock of 18 Shovelor on the sea. It was also apparent there were over 100 Great- crested Grebes on the sea, a quite remarkable gathering. But I also spotted the fine quartet of Long- tailed Ducks on the sea, always lovely to see and only around half way out, they were directly in front of a boat on the horizon and just right of a long line of Gulls stretched out on the sea. On the walk down, no Twite seen. I did however see a Great White Egret feeding on the coastal marsh but wary as ever, as I later walked back one was seen more in land close to the Dunwich end, making 2 Great White Egrets in all. My walk down failed to reveal any Twite or Snow B, but as I walked back, I noted an area of swampy salt marsh, where 2 birders were peering intently. Just in fromt of them, as I suspected was the excellent flock of 30 Twite most hidden from view but occasional glimpses were obtained when they hopped in to view or jumped briefly up into view. sadly, a Sky lark took fright and flushed them and all 30 Twite flew around in a large circle around 4 times before heading north.
On Sun 8th January, an exhaustive third attempt to see both extremely elusive the Nuthatches and Firecrests were doomed to failure despite the early start due to constant chainsaw noise emanating from a garden adjacent to the north- west corner of the woods. Only birds seen were around the road, Wood Pigeons, Jay and a vocal Goldcrest and I heard Redwing too.
On Saturday 7th January, after an hour and a half wait, people running to the wilderness area beyond the gate meant I was the last to arrive as I can't run with my torn leg muscle. Obscured views were obtained of the fine Pallas' Warbler seen through a Hawthorne bush and in a beech tree also.
Friday, 6 January 2017
In contrast to recent reports from everyone else I failed to see any birds in Corton woods at lunchtime today (Friday 6th Jan) and certainly no Nuthatches, Firecrest or Craig's Marsh Tit (unusual sighting), continuing my poor run for 2017. I wonder how long it will continue?
Thursday, 5 January 2017
In the morning on Monday 2nd January, along the Halvergate road, I eventually parked by the start of the concrete road heading east near Halvergate village, looking south by farm building first 2 then another 2 birds flew in totally 4 Cattle Egrets by the farm. I tried to get closer but other birders blocked access and I lost my parking space so I had to leave reluctantly. Driving to Buckenham, a lorry was blocking the road so I had to abandon my attempt to see Taiga Beans and my other planned birding in East Norfolk ,for the first time in 8 years. At Oulton Marshes , walking out to the rail line, I got caught in a sudden shower, sheltering under a tree from the rain, it suddenly brightened and just south of the platform, a group of 8 Bearded Tits showed well this time in the reeds east of the path, only 2 of their number were males. These showy birds seen albeit in a breeze, attracted the attention of 2 photographers. walking out to the usual field, the Short- eared Owl was seen flying around the field, before hunting further afield.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
On Sunday 1st January, I parked at North Cove car park and walked up the track, meeting Rob Will, Andrew E and James B who were on a New Year's twitch. On Castle Marshes, I was delighted to spot the 76 White- fronted Geese with a few Mute Swans the group were actively feeding. At least 1 immature bird seen with the flock. Perched on a post nearby was a Buzzard. Walking back, a Buzzard flew right over the fields and past the Alders a calling Marsh Tit, Wren were seen. Going over to the reserve, I heard a Bullfinch too. At Mutford Lock basin, 4 Little Grebe, Turnstone and 7 roosting Oystercatcher seen, no sign of the Common Sand at high tide though. Nothing from the railway bridge looking over Lake Lothing. At Leathes Ham, 3 Pintail (male and 2 females)seen distantly and 4 Pintail (3 males) seen close on the island. Around 15 Gadwall seen and Wigeon heard but not seen in worsening weather. At Hamilton Dock, a Cormorant seen plus 8 Turnstone feeding in the Turbine yard. Whilst at the point along the ledge, just north of the "finger" first 4, the 5, then 8, then 10 and finally 11 Purple Sandpipers seen all feeding along the ledge or the defence rocks and momentarily disturbed with the waves breaking against them. At Links road car park, a group of BH Gulls included an unsigned adult winter Mediterranean Gull plus a confiding Rock Pipit on the seawall eastern ledge sheltering in the rain.