Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Oiled Red Throated Diver Snettisham February 08

1st 2 pictures Cropped hand held images. All others taken with the usual combination of Digital Camera and Telescope. DIVER, initially reported as GREAT NORTHERN but clearly a RED THROAT.Unfortunately an oiled bird, as evident in the big dark stain on the underside. Swimming and feeding, but spending a lot of time hauled out on the side of a small fishing lake. A visit to the RSPB Reserve produced the expected mix of waders and wildfowl. A stop at Welney on the way up had plenty of Whooper Swans on the approach roads and on the reserve,as well as the Bean Geese viewable from the main Observatory.Searching through the flocks of swans on the way in failed to produce the local COMMON CRANE. Instead, it came into the reserve in failing light, and settled among the roosting Swans. This leads on to my regular moan and Bug-Bear - hides designed by people who clearly never use them, and make sure that anyone who does ends up irritated and frustrated by flaps that are too low/high /narrow and placed at the most inconvenient level possible. Having picked up the Crane flying into the reserve, the height and placing of the viewing flaps ensured that others struggled to see it, even with my Telescope set up for them - visitors who had stayed on the reserve, and in the hide in the hope of seeing the Crane were not happy and as unimpressed as I was with poor design - something hardly likely to encourage returning visitors.

February 2008 half term in Norfolk

1 of 3 Crossbills coming to drink in the muddy pools of Dersingham Bog. Not the first time I have seen them do so, but always a tricky bird to catch up with. They spent most of their time at the tops of trees where they are not so easy to photograph. A female Hen Harrier that put in a brief appearance, singing Woodlarks, and numbers of posing stonechats made for a successful day's visit. Sadly no sign of any Golden Pheasants in spite of several visits during the week.

Part of a flock of several hundred Pink Footed Geese feeding in a roadside field. Still present on the coast but not in the same numbers as in previous weeks.

Dersingham Bog the following morning, with the rising sun burning off a blanket of fog and mist. No sign of the previous day's Crossbills anywhere on the reserve.

1 of at least 7 Lapland Buntings in the fields between Thornham Harbour and Holme NWT/NOA Present all winter, but usually picked up as calling birds in flight. Nice to see them showing well on the ground.

1 of 2 Chinese Water Deer seen from the Noa reserve, feeding on Holme marsh. A pleasant surprise after seeing numbers of the more expected Deer species around Sandringahm and Dersingham during the week ie. Roe Muntjac and Fallow

Bar Tailed Godwit Thornham Harbour

Teal Thornham Harnour

An extremely token 'Record shot' of the Rough Legged Buzzartd present at Burnham Norton - taken at distabce and into the sunlight !! It took 2 days to find it as in spite of the bright sunshine the Buzzard spent most of its time perching, rather than flying or soaring on the thermals that the sunny weather provided. When it did take to the air flights were low and brief, confirming all the Identification features, but not ideal views. The previous day's attempt had produced Barn owl and Peregrine sitting in the same clump of trees, as well as Hen Harrier,Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel all hunting over the marsh. A nice tally of Raptors. Good views of the Rough Legged allowed tiome for another trip to the White Crowned Sparrow at Cley, now showing well in a paddock on the other side of the road from the Driveway.Rather easier to see and much less crowded and Hectic - and still rising a large sum for the local church.The downside was trying to take pictures of a rather mobile bird, going into the Sun.

White Crowned Sparrow Cley

Friday, 8 February 2008

Snow Bunting Salthouse Norfolk

Snow Buntings and Lapland Buntings.Difficult to track individual birds in such a fast moving flock !

lapland Bunting salthouse Norfolk

A pale individual present with the Snow Bunting flock.Stunning displays from birds that seemed to take little notice of birders and photographers.

White Crowned Sparrow Cley Norfolk January 2008

Lapland Bunting - Salthouse . Scarce and not that easy to see most winters, but showing well only a short distance away from the Sparrow, with a large flock of Snow Buntings.
Snow Bunting - Salthouse. Not too difficult to find on the coast most years, but definitely a rare bird in land locked Bedfordshire.

A part of the assembling crowd. Luckily when I got the phone call about the Sparrow at Cley I was only about 20 miles away, in the Dunes at Holme looking at a fairly empty stretch of Sea. One of the advantages of spending a lot of time in Norfolk is that the County has an impressive track record in turning up rare birds. Thus the 'Twitch' to see the Sparrow, only the 4th British record, involved none of the high mileage, or the pre-dawn starts that had been needed to see the Murrelet in Devon or the Green Heron in Anglesey. It also gave a head start on the crowd that was bound to follow once news of the Sparrow's appearance spread !!!! Good views were had on the day but it took a return visit to be able to catch the bird on Camera. The most famous and well watched driveway in Norfolk
Sometimes birds make life difficult.

You know they are there, but you just can't see them. Not good after what may have been a long journey for a rare bird.In this case,with the viewing angle down the driveway so restricted, even with a long wait,luck and patience may or may not be enough to give you the views you hope for. In the event the Sparrow has lingered long enough to allow birders more than 1 chance to see the bird -and, raise several thousand pounds in Donations from visiting birders towards repairs to the local church.

Twitching - Some Long Distance Rarities - Sometimes it may be the only chance you get to see a bird.

Long Billed Murellet - Devon November 2006. A first British record. Identified initially from images posted on the Internet, several days after the sighting. With fears that the bird had disappeared in the meantime, a Twitcher's nightmare loomed....... Fortunately the bird was rediscovered - and then, came the age old dilema ''DO I STAY, OR DO I GO !!! Luckily for the many who were brave ,or foolish enough, to go,and hope it would still be there, the right decision had been made.Not only was the bird showing well, it was doing so in a location where viewing was relatively easy, and a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all - except of course those who were unable to travel, and missed seeing the Murrelet because it was no longer there to be seen the following week-end !!! In the case of the Murellet the bonus was only my second chance to catch up with the regular Devon specialist -Cirl Buntings.Though they are now the subject of a project to extend their breeding range,the only way to see them at the time was to travel to Devon, and, luckily, we only had to travel a few miles to catch up with the local birds.Defiitely a good day out !!!!

Black Guillemots Anglesey August 2005 - so far the only time I have seen them.Very scarce visitors to the Norfolk Coast.

Green Heron - Angelsey November 2005. Not a first for Britain, but still a seriously rare bird, drawinga lot of visitors. Already present for some time, a last minute plot saw us heading to Anglesy on a bitterly cold morning. Not a day too soon as it turned out - the bird was not seen again after that day - though it was still present and showing to a very satisfied group of birders as we left !!! This was only my second visit to the Island, and the bottom picture gives the rather splendid setting for the Heron. A cold start lead to a glorious sunny day - a long way to go, but it all worked out rather well in the end.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Monday, 4 February 2008

Bittern Norfolk Coast

Preening on the edge of the reeds, instead of skulking as the books say it should

Friday, 1 February 2008

Bitterns and more scarce water birds

Bittern Norfolk Coast. Sometimes birds just decide to ignore the rulebook and don't hide in reedbeds like they are supposed to !!!!! Often the best views of Bitterns can be brief flight views over a large reedbed,.Not on this day !!!

Spoonbills Blacktoft Sands

Squacco Heron Erith Cambs.

Red Necked Phalarope Kelling

Wilson's Phalarope Grafham Water Cambs. Very much the rarest of the Phalaropes.Not only that but also a male bird in striking plumage.

Red Breasted Geese Snettisham.Nice of them to turn up on the doorstep after spending a cold and fruitless day looking for them around Wells

Sabines Gull Cley. A very smart juvenile bird that lingered. Ironically these pictures were taken only a few days after finally managing to pick up distant views of another Sabines past Holme while seawatching from the Dunes

White Rumped Sandpiper Grafham Water Cambs. Not the first I had seen but easily the most tame and approachable, as the pictures demonstrate !!!