Monday, February 23, 2009

A Sunday in Norfolk

A planned trip to Norfolk put off by a week and a day due to weather.
We planned to work our way from Hunstanton to Titchwell with a visit to Salthouse likely.In the event we changed that slightly to call in on Dersingham Bog for Bob's bogie bird of the year Great-grey Shrike as he and his mate had not found the Pannell Valley bird on Saturday! Obviously this involved a trip around Wolfendon Triangle for the elusive Golden Pheasants which proved elusive!
However Dersingham Bog proved much better and we were soon listening and watching Crossbills and hearing Woodlarks! The Great-grey Shrike was a harder bird to locate! We were joined for a while by the local Warden who was armed with his camera - hoping to get some nice shots of the bird. He hadn't though counted on the hoardes of birders who descended on DB today. Fortunately we were the first there with him! Bob located the prey - as I was busy looking for the Woodlarks.Son both scopes were on the showy bird
and two happy older women were looking in our scopes!Sisters - one local birder was taking her sister to see the GGS - but they lacked a scope - as the bird had been showing very close the other day.

We were informed by the local birder where she saw Woodlarks and that was on the way back to the car - there was a stream of birders (some in groups) flooding the place. We fortunately both saw one or two Woodlarks and beat a hasty retreat!

To Hunstanton to watch Fulmars and there were lots to watch. Bob was keen to find a Velvet Scoter and a small flock of Scoters were happily bobbing about right in front of us altho a little way out - so scopes up and find the 2 Velvets that were present!

The tide looking like it was on its way out decided our next stop- not to Salthouse but Titchwell to the Beah to see what we could find of the usual birds our year lists were lacking. On arrival one bird I saw on the first feeders was a male Brambling and I guessed that Bob would be pleased and stop and watch them. So I ordered the Teas and a bacon Bap for one and awaited his arrival - which wasn't to much later. We knew we had to get to the beach! Spotted 'shank in a field, followed by Black Brant (nonBOU) with Dark bellied Brent Geese and then Avocets - three nice year ticks altho only 2 to count! From the beach we soon picked up Knot(lots) and at last Barwits! Bar-tailed Godwits - not one or two but dozens!

The tide was out a distance and so were any birds!
(titchwell was heaving with people....I really prefer to be here early mornings or late afternoons...still we then heard two or three Cetti's Warblers and at the far Car Park I heard another and finally saw my first of the year!
Birds of Prey - few and far between today, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks and a couple ofMarsh Harriers were the best we could do.
So it was off to Salthouse for my Snow Buntings - such a delightful winter visitor.
As we drove towards the cr park a flock of Snow Buntings wheeled in the air!. Coffee from the friendly guy at the Beach taken to do some sea-watching.
Of the Gluocous gull there was no sign - but then we didn't really want to see an injured bird.

Back to Cley to walk the East Bank - more seawatching...this time stonking views of the Black-throated Diver which had by now drifted to us again! More Red-throats and Seals.We were on our way back to the car and a decision as to what to do next, visit the Cley Visitors Centre? - and we looked at the pager - I saw it flash up -Cattle Egret .....Norfolk.That was it Bob needs Cattle Egret. Study map and off we went.

Today had been very easy birding - each target bird seen and ticked in good timing.
(except the elusive Golden P)
However the cattle egret was to be the bird to prove once again that birding aint that easy! It was not in the field we scanned - a local couple pulled up and said 15 mins ago it was - over there on that bank. Thanks - a brilliant sighting of a Barn Owl then ---off we went to see where the Cattle Egret had gone after 15 mins of driving around and stopping and scanning (found some beautiful Snowdrops) we returned to the same field. Bird has gone to roost we decided!
Another birding couple had been off for a walk in the other direction now returned and no show either.

We stayed for a while longer watching a second Barn Owl doing its hunting circuit which fortunately for us involved flying down the road we were on and over the car!
Fab views and made up for Bob's dip!

A good days birding in great company.

Its always easier here, once the eye is in! So Red-throated Divers by the score and Common Seals kept bobbing up! There was one Black-thraoted Diver. I then watched the Snow Bunting flock for a while and then back to the sea and there were two large divers flying- Great northern Divers!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Birding tales

Briefly last w/e I went to W Sussex and Hants with my birding buddies -
on Sunday I just had to go and see the King Eider in Kent this time!

During the week I had a little trip to Devon and Cornwall!

added quite a few really nice birds to my year list!

No sign of the American Herring Gull unfortunately - that would have been a lifer!

Off to Norfolk tomorrow.....

Friday, February 13, 2009

A year tick, Barnes and a Bittern

Well the sky was blue and I thought I've had enough of sorting out the study. I'm off to Barnes.

Possibility of a couple of year ticks.

I went first to Dulverton Hide - usual Tufties, Shovellers, and there a Snipe (Common) ok and on to the pool between D and WWF and lo and behold a Woodcock (tic) then it was off to the Peacock hide and more Snipe and Water Rail and - a Bittern but tricky sightings. Must be good from the WWF foot back and right in front of me...a Bittern. Now there have been 2 Bitterns at Barnes but none seen this winter here by me.

Seen Bittern at Dungeness and Burton Mill Pond but not here, and what views brilliant, first it raised its neck to giraffe height then it walked about in the reeds at the waters edge and then it came right out. Typical I only had the little compact so I tried a few digiscope shots - well records they are!

Then off to Wildside to see if I could finally nail the Water Pipits- nope!

Still the Bittern was good.

Oh and I did say hallo to the Cranes - of course!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australia and those fires

I have been aware of the Aussie tragedy unfolding as I expect you have been too. Here is a little story that shows the hope and human kindness that can come out of such a tragedy.

Animals have suffered too but firefighters are caring - click on firefighters

I have just received this in an email -

Simon's blog

Well didn't go to Devon or anywhere else today - possibly Barnes tomorrow!
Sussex and Hampshire on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now where to go?

I was hoping for a trip to Devon tomorrow but then I saw this has been reported from

and now the bird is sw of Castle Douglas - so it looks like its on its way north to Mull and west Scotland. I'll leave that to later when hope to go up to Scotland for the specialities!

So Rainham and those Pen tits! showing today - but maybe I #d be better going down to Devon where there are other nice birds for my year list?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another trip into Surrey

Well I mention this to prove that going to new places with vague directions is a lost cause!
Bookham Common has been recording Hawfinch frequently. It was an afternoon trip and the traffic was heavy. Everyone off to Auntie Flo.So took a longer time than anticipated to get to BC station.We went across the bridge scanning as we went and then a wander through the trees. I spied a small flock of Redpolls a long way off and searched through them for any Mealies or even an Arctic! No all Lessers.

No sign of Hawfinch. We met a couple of people with bins and a dog. They have seen the Hawfinch on many days -but not today.They told us of a place where they have been seen a lot, so we went there and no sign either!

We were running out of light and it started drizzling. Home we went.

Bob muttering about how he (the driver) really would have preferred to go to Barnes as he hasn't seen that many Jack Snipe over the years! (I saw one the other day there!) Bob doesn't like Barnes and only goes there when something is about! I wonder if I might see one of the Water Pipits there this week, they are elusive!
Oh yes and Staines was also mentioned - Scaup there again!

Well you win some you lose some!
Better directions as to where on the vast area of Bookham Common the Hawfinch preferred would have helped!We will go to the places we know in the Forest of Dean or to Suffolk/Norfolk where we have seen Hawfinches before!

What a miserable morning it is today, as I look out of my window. Looks like a sorting day and working on the pc!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

gull fest!

So off to Hampshire- we thought leave later as the weather forecast was dire. We get to Portsmouth - have they seen any snow?

Surrey we came through and whilst the roads were good - you could see the snow everywhere. Hampshire, well it didn't do what the forecast said. We could have left earlier and had longer birding there.

Still first to Southsea and to see an Adult Glaucous Gull - my first adult, all the others I have seen were 1st or 2nd winter.Well he was bobbing about in the sea - no pic any good as the gull was in the sun! Then a Rock Pipit flew up and I heard it but missed it and Bob who saw it couldn't say where it had gone and it wasn't seen again. While Bob went to find another Red-necked Grebe, I watched the gulls and then suddenly I saw a Med Gull, full adult.

Then it was off to Gosport for Gossie the Ring-billed Gull. Who was hiding in a channel in the creek and suddenly popped up for a while and then disappeared down the channel again!

Bob found a Med gull here, oh and our first Ringed Plover of the year! We thought we might have a Barwit but it was another Blackwit! Where are these Barwits?

We then drove over to Blashford Lakes - where we learnt the GWE had flown back to France on the 18th January but they had a showy Bittern. We also discovered where Blackwater Arboretum was, from the helpful Warden. Wr drove across the New Forest to a spot where Crossbills had been seen but we didn't, but heard lots of tits and other passerines and then on to BA. A lovely drive, BWA looks a good place and here we saw 3 male and 2 female Bullfinches in a tree and another male Bullfinch further on!

No sign of Hawfinch!

On the drive back to London we had a Tawny Owl fly in front of the car!

A gull fest indeed.
Havent mentioned the Herring, Common, Blackheaded, Lesser and Greater Blackbacked....who were all around!

So a pleasant 5 for the year list for me!

Have a go at iding the gulls above!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

News on the Garden list front!

Three Goldfinches on the feeders at lunch time plus the usual Blue and Great tits and Blackcap(male) plus a lovely displaying Wren quite whom he was displaying to I'm not sure. A good way to answer a phone call watching out of the upstairs window at my garden!

Tried a couple of shots through the window...have yet to see if they are any good.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

South Africa Trip 2008 Oct-Novemember

I have managed to begin my SA exploits as I cant copy and paste quickly all the details, I have uploaded the posts to the Southern African Forum - the posters on here are a lovely bunch and were very helpful to me before I went and when I thought I had lost all my its there and I will post a link every time I post on the new Thread. Entitled Birding with Sea Eagle from the Kruger to Drakensburg. here

Interesting posting now with the snow melting but still very cold ...thinking about 28 degrees!!

Barnes on Sunday.

I mentioned below that we went to Barnes on Sunday originally to take a couple of non birders - one of whom enjoyed our visit a couple of years ago to Dungeness.We were all atayng at Greatstone so it was a good opportunity. Well the non-birders couldn't make it in the end.Having booked Sunday "lunch" - we went about 12 as it was very cold and the traffic was so heavy - we went to long way round via Hammersmith Bridge as there are road works on the journey by the Thames.

Once on site it was off to the Cranes....Demoiselle Cranes. Good photographic opportunities and I really like Cranes!
They appear much more settled into their new home now.Apparently when they first arrived every plane on its journey to Heathrow caused all three heads to peer skywards. Well they still do a fair bit of peering skywards and head turning. Seem very alert.

After the Cranes it was a wander around. Did I say it was cold?
Pat was trying out my compact camera - which appeared to have a problem...well it did and it was me! On the zoom when it goes past a particular point you need a tripod or to support it firmly on something. Problem solved.

We were in the reed beds area keeping an eye out for the Bittern (well I was)and I spotted this chap.

He was just diving as they do..and the up he came with afish which he dropped again and dived to retrieve it and after struggling to get it into position he dropped it again! Finally he won and gulped the fish down! Good protein there.

After a really good Carvery lunch. We went out again and came across this bird.
My friend Pat really likes Grey

While she wandered about taking photos I went off to the Peacock Tower in an attempt to see a bird for the Year List.
Having successfully found the "Jack Snipe" hidden in reeds...but fortunately bobbing up and down I returned to find Pat still taking photos.

Back to the centre to look for fat cake (birds) none easy to hang in trees tho unless you buy another cage!

Had a look at the Peter Scott book that has been republished to celebrate the Centenary.Interesting looking.

All photos by Pat Simmons

and from another visit......

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Osterley House in the snow

All the photos ought to be the other way around! Why is blogger such a tricky software?

I couldn't find these photos yesterday! In a different folder!

Compact camera - that I thought had broken...learnt a little about close ups and now realise that at a certain zoom you need to steady the bean bag or tripod!

After these pics!

more birds

Ducks ,coots and gulls!

Osterley in the snow.

Monday, February 02, 2009


We were warned but this much?
Brilliant soft snow...just right for snowball fights in the street!

First to get some snow off my feeder tree and see that the feeders are full!

Mr Blackbird was defending his territory from everyone even chasing off his other half much to her surprise.

Out to my friends to collect my camera.
Quick diversion to have a snowball fight(!) with the little boy across the road and his mum and dad, well the dad and I threw at each other across the cars, me catching most before they hit me!

We are all big kids at heart.

Friends ringing up - got the day off school.

Pictures later - oh and my very first Goldfinch (in my garden) on the feeder just now - get camera out and gone!
Battery flat - that was quick couldn't have charged it properly!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A visit to Barnes and a Jack Snipe!

Report to follow with (talons crossed) some photos by my friend Pat - stunning Mandarine - Cranes and Grey Heron!

I think I might have at least one ok shot of the Cranes!

But I did get me a Jack Snipe! and a lovely Sunday dinner!

East Norfolk (31st Jan)

Report to follow

Taiga Bean Geese,Cranes and Pinkfooted Geese - the target birds seen...with some unexpected goodies and a couple of dips for "extra birds" on route!

Staying local today.....