Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Steppe in the right direction

The Steppe Grey Shrike which had been present at Burnham Norton since sunday was reported as still showing this morning (tuesday) so I decided to have an hour off the paperwork, go for a walk and hopefully see this first for Norfolk.

I arrived at Norton and to my surprise found somewhere to park in the small car park. I guess most of the heavies had already been and given it was a weekday things were a little quieter. The walk at Norton is really good with a seawall to walk along or through the middle of the reserve - this is where the bird was. So a twenty minute walk and I arrived at a small group of people to be told that it had been showing quite well but now had disappeared behind more distant bushes. There was however this Kestrel on the fence line that the Shrike had been using.
I was aware of a fair bit of abuse being levelled at this Kestrel and this was the reason the Shrike had moved further back. Then up it popped, quite some way off. I was invited to use someone's scope and  had reasonable views. The decision, to stay an extra ten minutes or bail out and get back to the paperwork ? I stayed, and watched the Shrike make it's way methodically along the bush line, but getting further away all the time. The Kestrel moved down opening up the area the Shrike had previously been in, and not surprisingly the Shrike flew back to the near fences allowing for some pictures to be had - a couple below, the low light levels showing off the birds light peachy wash to the underparts:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

misty wheatear

.........and on the path at Burnham Overy Dunes in the mist was this Wheatear - the mist having a strange effect on the photographs giving them a painting like feel

Mist it...

The early morning mist which lifted yesterday round 11 am, didn't today - so spent the day birding in some misty and slightly drizzly conditions. Made a start at Burnham Overy Dunes.
The bushes at the end of the boardwalk had about twenty bird spotters in front of them, but on our approach we found a Red-breasted Flycatcher feeding near the path, a Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler.
By the bushes there was another Red-breasted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, a couple of Spotted Flycathers and Chiffchaff. Viewing was considerably hampered and photography was virtually impossible - there is a Rb Fly in the middle of this pic !
Being crowd intolerant Phil and I decided to bird the rest of the dunes towards Gun Hill which produced more Redstarts and another Spotted Flycatcher. Everything was too far distant to photograph apart from this Spotted Flycatcher which although some distance sat in the drizzle just long enough to have it's photo taken.
Another skirt round the bushes revealed a few more Garden Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaffs and although we could hear the Yellow-browed calling yes never saw it. The mist was closing in significantly but I did attempt this Lesser Whitethroat - but it was a poor result as the awful conditions played havoc with the camera.
We left as groups of Siskins started to bounce their way along the track, amid groups of Swallows, Chaffinches and thrushes. It had a real migrant feel. Plus I heard my first Pink-footed Geese of the autumn.
On to Wells Woods where we added Pied Flycatcher, some more Spot Flys and then another birder (Ashley) gestured that he'd just seen an Olive-backed Pipit. We searched around for a while then headed to the Drinking Pool where we found this Red-breasted Flycatcher. We returned to the car park to increase our stay.

Adding more money to the car park proved a problem as the machine wasn't accepting credit cards so we had to get cash from the shop - while this was happening the "birders of the Dell" were busy watching the Olive-backed Pipit and my phone (my thanks to Geoff for trying to alert me) which had decided to switch to answer machine mode was telling my pocket that good views were being had. Oblivious to this we returned to The Dell and the Pipit decided not to show, well to me, Phil was lucky enough to see it briefly. Still none of that detracted to a great day of migrant spotting. Soft and unusable pics but some lovely birding moments.

Friday, 5 September 2014


A few hours spent down at Burnham Overy Dunes before picking up Tom from school. The track down to the sea wall was quiet for birds as a pile driver was setting up new fences. The Black-necked Grebe which had been present for a couple of days was on the large pool in the company of several Little Grebes, but very distant. Left hand bird here.
Then on the approach to the board walk there were a couple of Pied Flycatchers and also two Whinchats. The Whinchats were impossible to get close to but one of the Pied Flys came really close onto the fence wire - I was too slow and off it flew. Shame as it would have been a cracker. I walked west along the scrub and found a Redstart and another Pied Fly but little else was moving here apart from some Dunnocks.
Returning to the board walk and one of the Pied Flys came close enough for a snap, albeit straight into the hazy cloud ridden sunshine.
My quarry species had been Whinchat but they were far too flighty to approach and the light was pretty appalling, so it was a nice surprise to find this Redstart low down and with careful creeping quite approachable.

time to walk back and pick Tom up from Wells - and a hovering  Kestrel was my last sighting.

Monday, 28 July 2014

A flycatching Crake

Down at RSPB Titchwell this morning a Spotted Crake was spotted so I felt it was worth a quick look. On my arrival there were some ten or so people but the bird hadn't been seen for about half an hour. I settled in and waited, then after about 15 minutes I saw a movement in the reeds and there it was. I alerted the assembled mass of now about twelve people and then watched as it crept along the reed edges. A little while later and it started to rush out onto the mud, half flying, half running and catching flies. Very strange behaviour for a Crake. Still here some pics:

 Local Moorhen gets annoyed with the new arrival

Then after work news of a Long-tailed Skua  had me and Oli scuttling down to Titchwell again. Very distant views so over to Thornham Harbour and spent a while watching eleven Arctic Skuas and a superb adult Long-tailed Skua - sadly too far away to photograph but looked great through the scope.
Overall a good day and managed to catch up with Mike Hodgson (ex RSPB colleague) Richard Millington who gave me a masterclass in ID of Icelandic and Continental Black-tailed Godwits and then later at Thornham pointed out a Herring Gull/GBb Gull hybrid (he is very good).

And once again it was really quiet at Titchwell. This evening only about twenty people looking for the Crake and Skua - excellent.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Waders waders waders

In the last few evenings Titchwell has provided some great views of waders. The first quarry was Wood Sandpiper. These were feeding quite close to the path and a quick scan round the mud revealed some six birds then further out on the reserve and at least another five birds but I was armed with my camera and not my scope so probably loads more. While photographing this bird another flock of seven flew overhead calling. The new(isn) hide at Titchwell which has received mixed reviews.

 Wood Sands

 Black-tailed Godwits were in fine plumage still and while a little further out some did fly over the path on occasions.

 showing wing moult
And then there were the Spotted Redshanks, a few still is summer plumage and others in varying states of dress

While watching one of the Spotted Redshanks feeding, it started to have a problem getting it's fish down. A small stickleback had become wedged at the base of it's bill and it took a good ten minutes for the bird to get it re aligned in order to swallow it. Here the bird first catches it's prey.... all looking ok so far....
The stickleback manages to get sideways and with it's spines wedges itself so the Spotshank cannot move it.
There followed a good ten minutes of the bird quivering it's bill in an attempt to move the fish. Heavy crop here, or a blocked crop !
This is where the fish remained until eventually the Spotshank got it down - a relief to the bird and to me watching it. So a quick wing stretch and back to feeding.

Other birds around were Lapwing, Avocet, Little EgretRuff and Common Tern

and best of all.... I was virtually on my own. It seems after about 6.30pm the reserve is almost empty. By 7.30pm I was the only person ( I could see ) on the reserve. Fantastic :)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Well well....

4 July 2014
An evening stroll at Wells by the lifeboat station and where there is water, mud, dogs and Tom - the combination is assured.
Brown Shuck
 Two bouys
Around the point and the Terns were up, mostly Common Terns but also some Little Terns. No big lens sadly but took some pics with the 70-200 and did a heavy crop - was quite surprised at how well they came out given how small the images were.

Some late evening sun helped to make the beach huts look worth the ridiculous prices that they are charging.......

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Marsh things

All about chicks and Marsh birds today - so good to see after the Storm Surge that the local marshes are recovering (not so further east along the coast sadly). It seems that the deluge of rainwater in the weeks following the storm surge helped desalinate the ground. Added to that the water was taken off as quickly as possible and measures put in to help stop the subsequent high tides re breaching the marshes.

So I was lucky enough to get a quick view of breeding success at Deepdale Marsh. Here some Avocets doing the broken wing display - very convincing

 You could almost feel sorry for them - then off they fly having led you away from the chicks

Also Oystercatcher and Little Egret

and the best was left for the end with Little Ringed Plover
here a juvenile Little Ringed Plover