Thursday, 24 January 2013

duller day... if possible

24 January 2013
Midday on the coast and with every mile from Shouldham the light seemed to get worse and worse, until on arrival it was very very dull, even with a few flecks of snow. The quarry was Waxwing, I felt a pic of the berry being tossed in the air, mouth open and beautifully lit by a low cast sun, preferably with a Windmill in the background. I woke up ! and then tried to find the Waxwings with no success. Fieldfares were temptingly close, mostly flying off, but the light was awful.

 I was handholding a relatively large telephoto and on reflection 1 60th of a second shutter speed just wasn't doing it, especially combined with 1250 iso. Still I knew I had a chance with the next subject - The Windmill at Overy Statihe, it wasn't moving but the light still denied me.
 So off to Titchwell, surely something was moving there. I was greeted by ever decreasing levels of light and a frozen lake ! Most of the waders and ducks were miles away, but this Spotted Redshank did stray into snapping distance and provided the only highlight of the walk to the sea.
I had heard that a Lapland Bunting was down by the Boardwalk so I stopped by a group of some twenty other spotters and lifted my bins. Perishingly cold and no gloves meant I had lowered my bins after a few minutes of not seeing the bird and had them thrust quickly back into my jacket. People were mumbling about having watched for 30 minutes to no avail and were slowly drifting off. I turned my frozen focussing hands to behind me where I saw ...... very little. Now just two people remained, my hands were warm enough for another outing so it was a scan of the Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, and then there it was a Lapland Bunting. Luckily the remaining two people next to me hadn't seen it so I very generously offered to put their scope onto it, and got a decent view. They, and I, was/were delighted.
It's in the centre of the pic above with a Skylark !
 and here it is massively blown up, still with a Skylark , nice enough and Lapland Bunting on the afternoon list. However I must say it was a rubbish view and I was reminded then of some of the lovely views of Laplands that I had  seen on Lundy.
So back to look for the elusive Waxwings with little light left now. At the feeders there were half a dozen Bramblings 
but undoubtably, bird of the day for me was Robin. They were fantastically close, so I close I was taking pictures of them with my iPhone. If I knew how to download the video I would, but I don't, suffice to say it looked nice. I think they would hand feed they were so tame, and at one time there were five around my feet, sub singing, contact calling and having the odd scrap. I will take mealworms next time, not to make them come close, but just to feed them. It was a fantastic moment to have these great little birds performing right at my feet. I have to say it was a birding moment.

I did find the Waxwings after a trek along a field edge, but they were high up and it was nearly dark.
The day however was won by Mr Redbreast

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

dull day

23 January 2013
A walk round Shouldham this morning and still lots of snow around. Walking boots crunching and compacting the snow made it difficult to listen for birds. However that said there were about 25 Siskins and the same number of Lesser Redpolls. I did find a great hedge that had Lesser Redpolls, Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Meadow Pipits... This is it I thought, the hedge of my dreams, I postulated how I could feed it up and it would become my regular spot   !!!! ...... so camera at the ready and into creeping mode. Sadly everything flew off, grey jacket, blue jeans against white snow... Hmmm usual problem. Also it is on a farmers field, but they have loads of them so surely they wouldn't mind my simple hobby. I shall try again when the snow has gone and I can blend in a bit more.

Another part of the track held six Goldcrests, so in I went ! Dark in there so blurry pics only.
However a few steps later and a Woodcock exploded from under my feet and flew off out of sight.
Outsiide a few Fieldfares were in the tops of trees and lots of Redwings tossing leaves around in the undergrowth.
Back on the road and a group of Chaffinches and Blackbirds were picking through the.... well what were they picking through exactly ? I couldn't see any seed on the road and didn't think they were picking up grit. Perhaps some wind blown seeds that were too small for me to see.

So all in all a bit dull for two hours spotting, except for the Siskins and Redpolls. Oh and the Goldcrests, the Fieldfares were nice, Woodcock was new for me for Shouldham and it was good to be out, so I'll change my mind, not bad really !

Back at home and I couldn't help but open up the file of yesterdays birds...... they are still there today...... I may have another stab at them tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A quick flit

22 January 2013
My young (only because I'm well old) colleague Oli told me he'd seen some Waxwings at Burnham Overy Staithe on his way in to work, so I took the executive decision to leave the shop ( I do love having my own business )  I zipped up to see if I could find them. At first they were nowhere to be seen so I walked down the track to Gun Hill, and after a short time came across some tell tale signs.
Clearly someone had been enjoying the berries, and then I heard the distinctive trill of aWaxwing, and down the track there they were.
A bit distant, against the light and too blooming high, but a great sight nevertheless. Still the photo opportunity wasn't quite there so some creeping was in order. It was a snow covered track and I had a black coat on !... it was too cold to remove....this was going to be tricky. A little closer however.
Some ten of these cracking little birds were in the hedge, along with some jumpy Fieldfares and a few Yellowhammers.
Eventually I got a bit closer...

 This was making me feel hungry, so as they flew off to feed some more , I returned to my sandwich, very pleased , but somehow a little disappointed I hadn't got THE shot. Next time maybe....
Looking down the track to the coast.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

It's snow joke.....

Thursday 17 January 2013
......and it really is no joke for the birds in this weather. I spent a half hour stood right next to the feeder in the garden and the birds were so hungry they paid little attention to me, as long as I stood still. Managed a garden tick in the form of a Snipe flying overhead. But here is a bunch of garden bird pics:
 and we start with Blue Tit which is an infrequent visitor to the garden, there are about so I suspect they are getting their food at a more desirable feeder, still the snow has pushed a couple to us
 Dunnock and always here
  Now this is a Teapot Cottage rarity, Chaffinch, only had a handful of these in the garden since June
 This isn't a rarity in the garden, we have a small group of around twenty House Sparrows always present
 Just as I was about to go back inside there was an attack of Long-tailed Tits, eleven of the fantastic little birds had a one minute feeding frenzy and then flew off
 the suet snowman under attack !

  The only regular Tit, is Coal Tit and I think there are four different birds using the feeders at the moment

 a visiting Great Tit
 and last word to the dominant species at Teapot Cottage - House Sparrow

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dip Dip Dip goes the Dipper

9 January 2013
And grip grip grip goes the Campey....... A quick whizz down to Thetford, just 30 minutes away to look for the Black-bellied Dipper that has been there for a good month. It wasn't seen yesterday so this was a bit of  a stab in the dark, though it's previous pattern had it disappearing every few days.

Arrived at Thetford in beautiful sunshine, and then walked to small river (Thet) bank where is was dank, cold and dark. However there was a small ball of brown and white bobbing away downstream and obscured by leaves. After about ten minutes it flew closer and despite being in really poor light managed some snaps. Mostly taken on 1000 ISO.

This is the north eastern European race...

 It looked incredibly bluey on the back in some lights.