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Monday, 27 February 2017

Lowestoft & Gorleston goodies

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

Breydon & Haddiscoe island

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

Sotterley hoodoo strikes again

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

Locally rare visitor to the garden

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

Bewick's along the Acle strait

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.

Smew at Minsmere

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

Glauc and a dozen Bewick's

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

Beardies & Short- ears at Oulton Marshes

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

East Norfolk trip

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.

Southwold and purple sheen at Ness Point

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.