Thursday, 29 December 2011

Free at last......

29 December 2011

Following a most hectic late Autumn which saw me launch a new business on the North Norfolk Coast, after resigning from In Focus (after 21 years! ), selling the house to have it fall through one hour before exchange of contracts, and with Sam out of action from effectively what was a broken ankle/leg twice, I have made it out finally, to do some bird spotting.

Actually that's a bit of a fib as I twitched the Western Sandpiper at Cley a few weeks ago and also managed to seen a Green-winged Teal and  a Green-winged Teal Hybrid.

But this morning it was off to West Acre Scrape and there were two Snipe in front of the hide and a distant Little Egret. Having almost forgotten how to use a camera I was all over the place with wrong settings ago go. Eventually I did manage a shot on some reasonable settings.

So that'll be it till New Year's day - If you are passing Burnham Deepdale do please pop into my new shop for a browse.... binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, magnifiers, astroscopes, trap cameras, night vision, books, bird feeders and food, insect habitats, moth traps, bat detecters and loads more...........

Friday, 23 September 2011

Plainly quiet...

23 September 2011

A beautiful late afternoon visit to West Acre and all was fairly quiet. Two Green Sandpipers were on the pool and some thirty Teal, but little else. All was quiet, the Teal were snoozing, the Pipers were resting, and no doubt quietly piping to themselves... (I'll remember to focus on the eye next time)
 even this Dragonfly wanted a bit of quiet and a rest.
 and then from the hill (small one, it is Norfolk after all) came this plane screaming overhead. Two of them zapping past. Subsequent research reveals them to be Hawke T.1's from Lossiemouth. Now where did I put that anorak?

Break a leg.....

23 September 2011

With the news that Sam's ankle is still broken (after being in plaster for three months and three months recovery!), a visit to the hospital for an op to insert, screws, plates and bone grafts, has rather curtailed the birding in the last week. However I did come across an enormous Puffball - I know they get big- apparently up to 16inches across - but this one is the biggest I've seen yet. Must have looked great when crisp and new.

and on a blustery day this ruffled Grey Heron

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Wildlife revisited

17 September 2011

A zip back in time, just for the day to my old home when aged  0 - 14yrs and a whiz round Richmond Park and the Terrace Gardens at the top of Richmond Hill. Just a few pics of Squirrels, on exactly the same path as forty odd years ago and the deers of the park looking as majestic as ever.

 Ok so this one looks really silly, almost stuffed (full of acorns) , but it was alive honest.

Monday, 29 August 2011

29 August 2011

A Grey Day

The morning started off quite cloudy, then some sunshine before becoming overcast and grey. But at West Acre is was also the birds that were grey...with the arrival of a Grey Wagtail, surely one of the top birds in the elegant birds list. It didn't stay long and it didn't come close but was worth a shot just because it was a Grey Wagtail.
Thereafter a brief bit of excitement as Steve Durrant and Eddie saw a Hobby but it was just too quick and so a vain attempt at a distant Kestrel. I won't be doing that again.
Back on the water and the Black-headed Gulls were bathing and drinking. Here a comparison between first year immature and winter adults.
and needs no introduction....another blooming Green Sand !
I love them really, sad to think that in just a few weeks time the hide will be closed to all, as essential maintenance work takes place, which we are led to believe will last a good few years reason therefore for anyone to visit except those few locals who wish to keep an eye on the restoration work. Rumour has it that it'll be replaced with a temporary structure, with no protection from the vicious and extremely poisonous snakes (large snakes) that roam the area.

Once again I repeat my warning - this place is best left alone.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

A Tick !!!

27 August 2011

An early (ish) morning walk through the wood to West Acre scrape and it was really quite dark, then a shaft of sunlight lit up this Fly Agaric by the side of the track. There followed a frantic changing of lenses and a drop to the ground (not because I thought it would fly off, but worried the sunlight would go!) , very wet ground at that, and I have to say it looked  rather fantastic in the surrounding gloom.
To the hide and on opening the flap, yup there was a Green Sandpiper, so there follows the usual compilation..........
 continuing on from the reflections theme... and below showing the beautifully intricate underwing     barring..
 and pic below, the characteristic give away flight id features of dark underwing and white rump - though I guess it could be confused with a House Martin ? - must look that up.
Everything flew off and I expected a large bird of prey to float over, but nothing and as usual the Kingfisher stick was empty
But wait, a piercing cry and there he was, in a bush (too far away!!) , and that's where he stayed no matter how many stickleback noises I imitated from the hide. Great to watch though as he fished for some twenty minutes, then a flash of colour and gone. One day on that day..
I left and drove home but en route added a life tick, a weird but clearly very efficient melon/squash organising machine - new for me.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


25 August 2011 - pm

A early evening visit to West Acre after work, a bit of sunshine and the Green Sandpipers were obliging....some even had did I sat in the hide, on my own as usual, (too expensive to hire the key remember) watching three Green Sandpipers fly around the pool. Then a male Redstart being mobbed by a clump (or whatever the collective name is for them)  of Chiffchaffs. As I pondered, I snapped away at these lovely waders. So here some pics of the Green Sands of West Acre......

This pool has had these birds, plus three others, for many months now - fantastic and how long will they stay ? It's a great feeling to open the flap of the hide and see these birds. Other usual suspects were there including a Moorhen having a dip
 then looking a bit more like a real Moorhen, oh yes and reflecting...
on leaving I was once again treated to a Hobby attack. Again too quick but shot directly into the sun so this pic over exposed in order to just see his "red trousers" . I am considering entering this for the worst photograph of a Hobby ever taken, and if that doesn't win then I'll go for worst Swallow pic !
Remember, stay away from West Acre !!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Four of 'em.... at least !

Sunday 7 August

A long overdue visit to Tallent's Meadow at West Acre and on opening the hide flap I was greeted by some fairly grumpy looking Egyptian Geese.
Funny looking things really
and occasionally giving the odd, and I mean odd, aggressive posture
After dismissing such escaped convicts I searched around the pool for other, more "real" birds. And there it was a Green Sandpiper, excellent, happily feeding away, and hang on, in the distance behind ...another wader...which was another Green Sand, and then another ! In the end at least four birds and possibly a fifth which I saw fleetingly but couldn't be certain it was an extra...
wonderful though...

I watched these birds for a good couple of hours, feeding actively (the birds that is), having a rest then feeding again. I can't recall having seen this number on such a small area before. And at this point I would like to remind anyone wishing to visit West Acre Scrape that the estate have installed new retina  scans for the hide, so the key isn't enough ! Please heed my previous advice to leave the place well alone. After all the Kingfisher is supposed to sit on this post in front of the hide, well it never does.
So time to leave, as just as I did this immature Hobby flew past the hide with barely enough time for me to lift the camera as it shot past in nano seconds. A pleasant couple of hours on a sunday morning

Friday, 17 June 2011

Twice Bittern.....

Friday 17 June

A very early morning flit to Titchwell again just in case the Bitterns were still around. The distinct lack of people answered my question, but to my amazement the adult bird was apparently still flying around. Clearly too boring for the crowds - great ! So I gave it a couple of hours, during which time there were two flight runs to feed the chicks. Unfortunately it was rather dull and the birds were quite a way off.

Apparently the female had called the chicks to her yesterday late afternoon and the young had swum across the scrape to the northern section of reeds. Glad I missed that ! Jamie Mc C said it was awesome, some praise from him.

Prior to the Bittern flights however, the Bearded Tits were calling nearby and a group of five young were messing about in the reeds. Note the brown dead reeds, killed by Wainscot moth maggots (caterpillars), - they sound more evil referred to as magotts.

 And then it was time for the Bittern to fly to the young, this time being harassed by a Black-headed Gull.

 being a reed bed everything is a bit brown, the Bitterns are brown, the Bearded Tits are brown, so a nice splash of colour was welcome by a passing Goldfinch (note the brown flanks).

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Once Bittern.....

Thursday 16 June 2011

A quick hour (well normal length hour) down at Titchwell before opening the shop resulted in a great birding encounter. I'd heard that adult Bitterns had been seen at the reserve flying over the track, but on arrival found myself looking at no less than four young Bitterns. Double click on images to see the superb stary eye. You wouldn't want to be a frog walking past one of these !

 and more to the point, watching four young Bitterns with only two other people. Not an experience you would normally associate with the more visited reserve in Britain. The benefits of getting up early.
 The adult female flew over the track and I was expecting it to come in and feed the young, but it was flying to another nest, further away, so presumably a different adult.
 That said these hungry youngsters were alert to the prospect of incoming food and it was necks up as anything flew nearby, in this case it was a Tufted Duck that alerted them.
 After about thirty minutes of watching these fantastic birds they all slowly crept into the depths of the reedbed. I walked back to the car, and in nearby field a solitary Hare was sat enjoying what was to be the last real sunshine of the morning. What a start to a day's work.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Go Gigrin go........

Beginning of June

So it was a great forecast, I had the projected day off and a trip to Gigrin Farm in Wales was planned. I've been wanting to go there for ages and even though in focus holds an annual event there, I've never been. Gigrin Feeding Station was started in 1993 when a few Red Kites were wintering and roosting in the area. The birds were fed and numbers rose from around a dozen to the now staggering totals of about 250 in summer and some 400 plus in the winter.

I mentioned it to Tom "of Cuddesdon" and he rapidly re arranged his patients for the target day, not so much I feel as he relished the opportunity of photographing Red Kites, as he lives just outside Oxford and they are continually either over his house or his allotment, but rather he couldn't bear the thought of me going on my own, such a considerate chap (!).

Arrived and around 1.30pm and a few Kites were about in the distance. Then as it approached 3pm more and more arrived. Below are a few pics, as I took so many I haven't processed them all, but this to give an idea. If you haven't been there, go ! It's bloody amazing !

 The birds gather and thermal round the site, then as the tractor fires up they start to get closer, much closer........
 fantastic masters of flight, a slight twist of the tail, tuck of the wings and they can drop immediately

 not really looking at me, though it felt like it !  but scanning for food
incomming as they say......more on this later. I think clicking on the images will bring them up larger.