Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Not Planned

Wednesday February 19
Summoned to Norwich by our garage, we came home via Ber Street. We parked, walked to the bench opposite John Lewis and sat virtually under THE apple tree.
We only had to wait 20 minutes - along with 5 women shoppers, not a binocular amongst them - before the lone Waxwing flew in to gorge on the remaining fruit, which was hanging rosy and bright on the bare branches.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Unusual. A dry (ish) Birding Day with Sue

Tuesday February 18
It must be six months since we birded with friend Sue. Either she's cancelled or we have, often for medical appointment reasons.On the last few occasions, it's rained steadily. To-day stayed mostly dry until we were well on the way home.
Thornham Harbour's reported Twite, showed as soon as we arrived and, were still bouncing their restless way around the bank, marsh and a lone tree, as we left. They used to be regular here in the winter but not in recent years. A short and light shower saw us on our way.
Titchwell always guarantees good birding. The pair of Red-crested Pochard has returned, showing briefly on the first water to the right of the path.
The Freshmarsh had me counting, not a common occurrence. 78 Avocet grouped around the marsh, noisily announcing their presence, is what prompted the maths. A large flock of Golden Plover left, swirling high and away, as we arrived. The larger group of Lapwing which also leapt into the air, re-grouped on the marsh. Three Ruff, a scattering of handsome Pintail, Gadwall, Shoveller, Pochard, Tufted Duck and one Scaup - another female - completed the picture. The so beautiful Teal deserve a sentence of their own.
A group of animated birders standing on the path the other side of the Parrinder bank, attracted our interest. Eventually, we picked out the well camouflaged Water Pipit picking its way through the bank/waterside vegetation. I tried some digiscoping, the results were rubbish.
Photos of a Black-tailed Godwit with my simple Canon were a little better. Pam took an excellent one.

 Moving on, the Brackish pool had three Little Grebe.
I found somewhere to sit on the low sandbank replacing the dunes, scanning the ebbing sea in relative comfort. Over five thousand Common Scoter formed an ever flying and changing raft way out to sea. One of a nearer, small group, showed the telltale white tick of a Velvet Scoter as it preened. Two handsome male Red-breasted Merganser and only a few Goldeneye to-day. Sanderling scurried along the shore together with Grey Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Redshank fed on the mussell beds.
A very welcome lunch at Brancaster Staithe added Ringed Plover. The gulls did not appreciate my scattered bird seed, a couple of Turnstone did.
Via Stiffkey and Wiveton we drove Beach Road Cley. After a futile and frustrating search through a flock of about 1200 Brent Geese in the Eye Field for anything different, it was time to drive home.

A Dry Day Forecast

Sunday February 16
With the possiblity of three year birds, Filby and Ormesby Little Broad  were the planned destinations. A lovely looking day too. Blue skies and sunshine, I hope that the west country had some of it.
Filby Broad is not a loved birding spot. One has to cross a busy road to stand on a narrow grass verge, peering between trees, in order to scan the water - and the birds are distant. Well......we tried hard with such restricted vision but failed to see either the female Smew or the Slavonian Grebe. I though I'd got the Smew behind the raft platform, it dived and I couldn't find it again. Roy R said that the Slav was in the far western corner, out of sight. I tried for about 30 minutes, stirred and shaken by the deafening traffic, before leaving for the track to Little Broad
It's a very pleasant walk through birch and alder woodland to the viewing platform. Easy. As soon as we got there, the female Scaup was visible, consorting with a small group of Tufted Duck. I hadn't carried my camera, these are Pam's photographs

Despite hanging around, she never appeared closer nor without reeds in the way.
Driving home via Horsey, a female Hen Harrier was a delight. Marsh Harriers are ever present here so seeing them can become routine but always a pleasure.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bits and Pieces

Thursday February 13

Long time no Blog.
Much of the country is under water, the latest downpour the result of a hurricane wreaking damage to the north coast of Wales and north west England. Gusts of 108 mph recorded on the Lleyn Peninsula. Aberystwyth hasn't recovered from the previous storm. Much of Somerset and parts of Cornwall are flooded, many people evacuated from their homes and without electricity. The railway has been destroyed  in the Dawlish area, cutting off Cornwall.  Political bigwigs have been pictured standing in water wearing newly purchased posh wellies! Prince Charles got there first wearing used wellies.
The Thames valley is also under water, flooding out the homes of many 'stars'.
Here? More rain than usual and the occasional stormy day but nothing untoward. Lucky. The ground is saturated and ditches overflowing, so what. Permanently dirty car, that's what. Big deal.
We got up to sun this morning and thought we'd do some birding whilst it lasted, rain was forecast. It's been dry and sunny all day, we could have gone further afield. We've made the odd short sortie to Winterton, picking up the odd month tick and an abortive attempt to see a lone Waxwing in Yarmouth. To-day it was Buckenham Marshes, a favourite.Shame that there was a team of workers on the marsh doing who knows what. It wasn't obvious. They seemed to be just marching about disturbing the birds. Despite this, we saw 70+ Eurasian White-fronted Geese, 2 Little Egrets, 5 Ruff, a host of Canada geese, fewer Wigeon and Teal, Lapwing and Golden Plover than usual (men!), 6 Skylarks and a pair of Marsh Harriers.
The highlight was Mill Common Road on the way home from Walcott PO. A female Merlin flew low over a roadside ploughed field, both a similar brown.
We hope to go to Sculthorpe to-morrow.......fingers crossed.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Forecast Looked Goodish

Saturday February 1

Despite the very high tides this weekend, 7.4 at 7.21a.m. at Snettisham, the low and dark cloud overcast did not encourage me to leave home before 7.23 (Pam is very exact with her timing). The sun and clear skies gradually appeared as we drove west, the low winter sun blinding by the time we got to the Harpley area. No Tree Sparrows again.
Inching towards 20 species as we approached Abbey Farm was not brilliant ! Three Brambling in the hedge as we turned into the car park was encouraging.  Squinting into the sun from the hide, there was plenty of water and birds - of few species. Our first Song Thrush for months sang near the car park as we left. A real delight.
After a hopeful circuit of Wolferton Triangle, straight to Snettisham chalets. I found a gap between two small chalets which had a few steps leading up to the bank and footpath. Poking my head round to view proved to be a mistake. Soooooo cold, with a gale force wind straight from the Arctic. I set up my scope on the top step to scan from the - relative - shelter. I still had streaming eyes which obscured my viewing, soon sending me scuttling back to the car. No more of that to-day, thank you. Gore Point and Titchwell can wait for another day.
The usual Fulmar and Rock Dove at Hunstanton, and a Shoveller at Holme. No sign of the Short-eared Owl at the latter. Again, no birds at all at Choseley barns. Scrubbing up the hedge near the road has definitely made a difference. I don't think they're spilling any grain either. Maybe they're trying to get rid of birders.
Whilst Pam ate her lunch at Brancaster Staithe, I amused myself by taking photographs of any Bar-tailed Godwits which came anywhere near enough. There were 50+ huddled on the sand island at the edge of the creek. A few were probing the very wet mud.

I hope it washed the mud off before it set hard.

The lone Glossy Ibis near the Three Swallows at Wiveton could be seen over the gate without leaving the car. 
Both gateways with views of the Brents along Beach Road, Cley, were occupied by cars and tripods so we drove out to the beach car park. No Stonechats to-day. There was room in a gateway on the return journey. Careful scanning added Black Brant and a couple of Pale-bellied amongst the flock of Black-bellied Brent Geese.
Felbrigg Hall main car park ended the day with the Little Owl in its roosting tree and a small flock of very bright Redwing on the grass in the car park. Low light and chasing Blackbirds made photography difficult.  I managed a few shots of a nearer bird before the Blackbird on a mission arrived.