Saturday, 24 January 2009

Barn Owl Again

Quiet afternoon, so have been through last weeks images and worked on a few. Here is another one of the Barn Owl.

Monday, 19 January 2009


Yesterday we paid our first visit to Norfolk, stopping off at the Ouse Washes on the Norfolk/Cambridge border. The intention was to try and find the Great White Egret that had been seen yesterday. The washes were full of swans-hundreds of Bewicks and Mute, and over a thousand Whooper, which made finding a white heron extremely difficult. In fact after about half an hour in the cold wind we gave up.
Heading up towards Welney, one of the Barn owls was seen on a post ahead of us and Colin was able to get the car into a suitable position, but it took off, flew over to my side and hung in the air while I fired the shutter. Eventually it flew over into the fields and continued hunting.
Nearby, by some old farm buildings a flock of finches and sparrows held a number of Corn Buntings.
Titchwell on the Norfolk coast was very busy as usual. The usual selection of waders were present-many Ruff, Godwits and Plovers, as well as a few Avocets and Spotted Redshank. One of two Water Pipits showed very well, but too far away for the camera. The strong southerly winds had pushed most of the sea duck away from shore, and little was left, though a small flock of Snow Bunting in the dunes was nice to sea. Being high tide, most of the shore line waders had gone to roost but a few Bar Tail Godwits acted more like weather vanes in the breeze.
Back in the Washes, the Egret had been re-found so we headed off and eventually got to see it distantly in one of the drains.
We ended the Day at Burwell Lode near Wicken Fen watching the Short Eared Owls hunting over fields full of Roe Deer. One owl had caught a vole, but a Kestrel tried snatch it from the owls claws-very close to us but in with the sun going down no chance of an image.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Day Out in Kent

This past weekend has been a very cold one. On Friday, we had freezing fog and a wonderful hoar frost on the trees that frustrated the photographers at work-we all wanted to be out there getting images. Unfortunately, by Saturday, much of it had gone and the light was so poor that try as I might, i could not get anything worthwhile.
Today we had planned a trip to Kent.
First stop was West Hythe to see the long staying Night Heron by the Military Canal. Luckily the water was unfrozen and it posed superbly, despite the attentions of a pair of Mink. Just above it a female Kingfisher sat for quite some time.
On the Isle of Sheppy, we spent the rest of the day and did very well for raptors, picking up the usual wintering Rough Legged Buzzard, many Marsh Harrier, several Hen Harriers and both Merlin and Peregrine. Pity we could not find any owls. Large numbers of Geese-Brent and White Fronted, plus a small herd of Bewicks Swans weer good to see, and the Swale held big flocks of Wigeon and Pintail, plus a variety of waders.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Waxwings again

Recovering from yesterday, I drove up to York road, and immediately saw two Waxwings in the pink Rowan tree. They soon flew off and joined four others in a tall tree.
Despite our fears about the lack of food, they are still around, but are difficult to find. Presumably there is a food source that birders have yet to locate.
Nearby, just south of Stevenage, 50 Golden Plover were found in a frozen field with a few Lapwing.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Glaucous Winged Gull Mega

Yesterday morning I went to Amwell. I failed to see a number of the species that I had seen earlier in the week, but i did see a Chiffchaff in the willows over the river Ash, and a female Goosander, presumably one of those that had been present at Hertford for several weeks.
Nice to meet a number of old friends, including a couple that I had not seen for quite some time.
Today I joined the throng at Teeside. Colin and I arrived at Cowpen tip at 10 am to see about a thousand birders lining the roadside scanning th huge gull flocks swirling around. Some managed to see an adult Glaucous gull (Colin had it perched on the tractor that was turning the rubbish over). Suddenly rumour spread that our target was further round on Cowpen Marsh, and when Lee Evans ran past it was clear we had to move.
Luckily the bird in question, Britains second Glaucous Winged Gull was still on view , showing very well, but too distant for photography. At one point, it was the sole bird on the ground, and showed all the diagnostic features a very distinctive bird.
We left just after 11 am, and with no targets nearby decided to return home via Pitsford Reservoir.
The north end was partially frozen, but six Smew (three drakes) were present. The south end was clear of ice and we found the Slavonian Grebe, but there was no sign of the Black Necked Grebe.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Years Day

New Year started with our usual trip to Portland Bill.
We called in at Radipole in Weymouth to finally see the Hooded Merganser that has been present for several months. As it was first seen in an exhausted state as a first summer bird back in June or July there is a theory that it could be a wild bird.
Portland was very cold, windy, and there was nothing in the harbour-no divers or scarce grebes. Never seen it that quiet before. The large number of Mediterranean Gulls was some compensation though, and there were a few waders too. At the Bill, there were a few Gannets and a large number of auks, but no sign of the Purple Sandpipers in the usual locations-no doubt the cold wind forced them to a more sheltered location.
At Keyhaven, the Red Breasted Goose was found in a large flock of Dark Bellied Brents, and we also saw a Black Brant and a Pale Bellied Brent as well.
Finally at Passfield the first winter Ring Necked Duck proved easy to see,and we picked up a few Kingfishers and woodland birds too.