Friday, 19 January 2018

Happy Richard (eventually)

Friday 19 January 2018
So this was it - a fourth attempt at the Parrot Crossbills. I left Sandy after breakfast with Steve Rooke and made my way home via Santon Downham, this time it was straight to the "puddles car park" and no Otter watching (not an easy call after their captivating performance the day before, but this was now getting serious). My sat nav bought me in from a different direction and tried to take me down an unauthorised road - re routed but a ten minute delay. This proved to be somewhat crucial.

I arrived at the car park to be told they had just flown up from the puddles but luckily they were still in the trees. A good sign as they always drop down to drink from those trees, or so I was told. They flew off. Bloomy heck this was getting silly I thought as I penned an imaginary letter to Suzuki Sat Nav Dept. Oli who had just witnessed the Parrot's drinking fest decided to have a look for the Otters - not surprising as he'd exhausted his camera on the very recently departed Crossbills. So I decided to wait having moved away from the small crowd who were all discussing their pictures and comparing head shots and feather detail !

One and a half hours later and they returned, spent an agonisingly long time in the tree tops, before coming down to drink. Now I know the conditions with light were not perfect but as far as I was concerned it was a "right result"

and this female photo bombing the boys
Flushed with success it was back to Browns for another, this time more celebratory, goat's cheese salad. Then should I go straight home or have another go for the Black Redstart and try to improve the background ? I started to return home, then remembering I was in the shop for the next seven days headed to Sheringham. It was a bit overcast but with few people around the bird was really confiding:

Cross Richard

Thursday 18 January 2018
A trip to Santon Downham to look for the Parrot Crossbills which had been seen on and off during the week. I decided to have a look for the Otters first and wasn't disappointed when I found a female swimming along the far bank of the Little Ouse. Even more so when it started to yelp and was joined by two kits. These three Otters continued to play hunt and rest for a good hour or so. Totally captivating and even though they were mostly covered by vegetation they did show themselves well enough to be photographed.

Time had got away from me a bit and I was feeling hungry so went for a late lunch at Browns locally.  This probably was a bad move because when I returned to Santon to look for the Parrot Crossbills I was told they had been down drinking at the puddles just an hour ago - I must have almost driven past them! I waited from 1.30pm till it got dark but no sign of them. This was now the third failed trip to see them. Luckily however that evening I was able to see other people's pictures of them from earlier in the day on the Wildlife of East Anglia website. Hmmm another day maybe.


Thursday 17 January 2018
A trip to Sheringham turned up a couple of Purple Sandpipers on the rocks and the usual bunch of Turnstones were muscling their way along the path.

A visit to Letheringsett for a Coues's Arctic Redpoll drew a blank but some 15 Bullfinches there slightly made up for it.

Then at the RNLI station Sheringham, the male and somewhat pristine Black Redstart was whizzing around the car park.

A reasonable morning but slightly disappointed by the background to the Black Red, notably the gutter and when on the grass it was only face on. Still another bird species on the big year list, must add it up soon.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pre breakfast listing

Sunday 14 Janaury 2018
My decision to do a "big year" (I use this phrase in an attempt to interest Tom, as he really likes the film - I align myself to Steve Martin's character out of the three - without the bank account ! ). It's a gentle bit of year listing in the hope that it'll give me more imputus to get out and look for some birds I haven't seen for ages. So this morning it was Thornham Harbour to look for Twite :
Although it was a grey day it was windless, perfectly still and even better I was the only person there apart from a couple of dog walkers. A flock of 27 Twite whirled around the saltmarsh and I also added a Rock Pipit to the emergent list (photo of Twite from last month at Thornham).
A few minutes drive to Drove Orchard as a couple of Waxwings had been frequenting the telegraph poles for the last couple of days, bingo, there it was.
Having seen these birds quite quickly I decided there was just time for a quick look out to sea from Titchwell beach. It was a good decision as some notable "first for the year" fell. Black-necked and Slavonian Grebe were the best, aided by Goldeneye, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. The list was climbing but the time was getting on, so home for breakfast.


Friday 12 January 2018

With the ever present grey skies forecast for North Norfolk and blue skies for the coast of Suffolk it was off to Minsmere today with the hope of a performing Bittern. Well one out of two ! Brilliant blue skies but no Bittern. Four Goosanders and the usual Minsmere suspects all seen in beautiful sunshine made for a very nice day's birding. Added to by loads of Red-throated Divers on a glass like sea.

In the woods a Muntjac Deer was foraging around:
Mid afternoon and Dunwich Heath for the Dartford Warblers.... surely on such a lovely day they would be showing ?
And yes about 20 birds present though at some distance most of the time. The Dartfords were song flighting and singing and as ever associating with Stonechats, but the Stonechats also kept their distance. A male and female Dartford below:

The day ended looking out over the sea at Dunwich at some 100+ Red-throated Divers and at least double the number of Great Crested Grebes.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Med turns grey

Wednesday 10 January 2017
It typically seems to always be a horrible grey day on my days off this year, but undaunted I took a trip to Great Yarmouth to look for the Mediterranean Gulls. They have been regular here for many years but the last time I visited was on New Year's Day about ten years ago. Bread = Med Gulls and within a few seconds some thirty plus Med Gulls, of varying ages, had swooped down onto the Hovis laden beach.

Before the Gulls a quick look for the Coues's Arctic Redpoll. A flighty flock included Lesser Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll (pic below) and Coues's Arctic Redpoll - three species for the "big year" ! Also en route was a few rain and sea drenched Purple Sandpipers.

As ever double click on images for better resolution.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Every Day's a School Day

Friday 5 January 2018
A few hours available in the afternoon and decided to go in search of the Iceland Gull at Cromer. I'd had a few attempts at seeing various Iceland Gulls on the coast at the back end of last year and failed miserably on each occasion, so with news that one was showing on Cromer Golf Course I gave it a go.
The Iceland Gull was visible from the road and not a million miles away so a photo was possible despite the dull conditions. I was so intent on seeing which way it was walking I never really checked the camera settings - very schoolboy error. So after taking a dozen or so shots and looking at the back of the camera I was fairly happy. Got home and downloaded the pics Hmm they didn't look good and the reason was .... I was shooting at f29 and 1/40th of a second ! Live and learn I guess. The other schoolboy error was not taking a scope and trying to identify the two Arctic Redpolls also present by the golf course was near impossible. White rumps and seemingly pale sides, but at that distance .....
A fuzzy Iceland Gull