Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A nice little diversion

17 January 2012

A short notice invite that I was able to accept due to a cancelled meeting, found me at my old pal Malc's house in Kelling, where in his back garden along with some fifty or so Lesser Redpolls he had not one but probably two Coues's Arctic Redpolls. One an absolute classic and a second, which they referred to as a Grey Redpoll, I thought I'd missed out on some new sub species, but it was the term they used to distinguishing it from the "stonker". But all in all two Arctics. Fantastic, and all watched from Malc's sitting room with a mug of coffee in hand listening to the likes of Andy Stoddart et al discussing the bird's finer points of id. Bloody great ! Here some pics through the lounge window.....
 I'd love to blame to soft quality of the pics on Malc's windows but I can't, having seen the pics others like John Miller were getting ! Still above is the stonker and here below is the "grey" individual. It had a browny patch in the ear coverts.

..... and a weird thing, here a Lesser Redpoll with a yellow crown, (didn't look like pollen) no one else mentioned it so "a find" ....yellow-crowned Redpoll, at last a first for........... actually it wasn't very exciting compared to the two white fellas !
So a great experience and as I made my way back towards the shop I stopped briefly at Salthouse Beach car park and snapped off at a few Black-headed Gulls.
 no windows, big, white and definitely Black-headed Gulls, I could focus on these !
Ah also Common Gull
 and Sam's favourite duck, Teal, so I had to grab a pic of this
 Ok then, time ticking on and back to the shop. As I approached Holkham there were two birds off towards the Pines so I stopped in a small lay-by and had a quick look through the bins to see two Rough legged Buzzads coming my way.

and then it really was foot down and off to the shop. Nice, and if you are reading this Malc - many thanks.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Coastal birding

15 January 2012

A bit of coastal birding recently has been most pleasant. At Salthouse the ever confiding Turnstones in the car park continue to almost get run over by the traffic and the Snow Buntings were still also present. Brent Geese and Pink-footed Geese seemed everywhere and then again more Snow Buntings at Snettisham.
 Brent Goose at Cley

Snow Buntings at Cley above and Snettisham below

A very elusive Tree Sparrow

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A day at the Races

1 January 2012

And what a lovely day to start the New Year. I didn't open the shop today ( the one stop nature shop - Burnham Deepdale ) and had the morning out birding..... and it was all about races.

First stop was the Fakenham Great Grey Shrike. First thought to be an intergarde of the nominate race excubitor and homeyeri, the South East Russian / Siberian race. Just a few people watching it as I arrived and it was a long way off. Good scope views once it moved from the tops of the trees, but no good for any decent pics so a few record shots taken. It was a very pale bird, with clean pale grey underparts and a large pale white area arounds the scapulars. There was a very large rectangular patch on the primaries, much bigger than normal Great Grey and a second wing patch on the closed wing. This seem pretty continuous when it flew, but really difficult to see due to distance.

 Here it shows the pale scapular area, double wing patches, white tips to tertials and clean pale underparts.

White forehead line which did have a hint of brown above in some light. I only saw it fly properly once and there was a lot of white in the outer tail feathers. The powers that be are discussing this bird and there is a view that it may be homeyeri and that this may even be lumped with Steppe Grey Shrike. I think that's what's happening anyway.

But all in all a very interesting couple of hours watching a difficult to nail race of Great Grey Shrike. I learnt lots.

So moving on to Titchwell RSPB and it was races again as an Coues' Arctic Redpoll of the race exilipes apparently pronounced cowes (that's the coues bit not exilipes). This I only found out having called it all sorts of things at the site, including bloody awkward to see, but it did keep re appearing every fifteen minutes or so and eventually showed well. This race, can be really strikingly white (last one I saw was), but this bird wasn't a real stonker, however it did have a very fat looking neck (probably a better way to describe that), and very obvious white tramlines and a unstreaked white rump. It very obligingly kept feeding on the Alders, hanging upside down so showed it's under tail converts and when viewed in the scope on the third showing, I could just make out the single dark shaft streak on one of the coverts. Nailed.
Also present were two Mealy Redpolls and at least eight Lesser Redpolls. Great fun.

A Greenland White-fronted Goose and Yellow-legged Gull increased the race total and I would like to think had me well passed the winning post, thanks to a lot of help with the Shrike from others, whatever it is.