Saturday, 27 February 2010

Jack Snipe

I paid the usual visit to Amwell this morning. Initially it was quite good, though breezy. Up to five Buzzard and my first Red Kite of the year were enjoying the conditions. Two drake Smew were still present, with several red heads, though other winter duck were scarce-a few Teal and Goldeneye.
Plenty of Reed Bunting activity in the cuts, but no Bittern or Cetti's Warbler. Unfortunately, by eleven the occasional shower had turned into torrential rain so I left.
I had only got part way home, and seeing that the weather was a lot better further north, I decided to take a detour and visit the new hide at Tewinbury. In lovely warm! sunny conditions one of the Jack Snipe posed quite well. I was using my i phone through the scope for the first time, so it was a bit hit and miss.

Friday, 26 February 2010


This moth has been present in the house over the last few days. At present, I have not been able to identify it.
With a new insect season rapidly approaching, I thought I'd try out some new equipment and techniques.
Taken with my D2x, Zeiss 100mm F2 macro, remote cord and Nikon right angle finder.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


I have had a couple of good garden birds over the last week or so. A neighbour has an old apple tree and it has been visited occasionally by a single Fieldfare, and this has been seen on our Rowan. More expected, but a very welcome visitor is the Song Thrush. We used to see them but the national decline meant that visits became increasingly rare, and now I am lucky to get one or two visits a year. They are still around, singing in the woods but our gardens don't seem to be attractive to them.
Following local reports, I paid a morning visit to Danemead reserve in Broxbourne Wood, which looks to be a very nice place for butterflies and orchids. Hawfinch are seen here from time to time and have been pretty regular over the last few days.
I arrived a bit later than expected, and immediately bumped into a large finch flock feeding on the ground. Predominantly Chaffinch and Redwing, I saw several large dumpy finches fly through but could not locate them. A bit further down to the reserve gate a loud tec led me to a Hawfinch sitting in a tree, but it suddenly flew off. A walk through the sheep field and into damp woodland did not produce Woodcock, though a flock of about twenty Redwing and plenty of tits, Robins and Wrens was nice. I returned to the main path (Ermine Street) and met another birder. He had arrived just after two plus Hawfinch had been watched for about half an hour, and shortly after, Joan Thompson and others arrived. I spent the rest of the time wandering Ermine Street, meeting up with various others, including Jan Hein van Steenis who had arrived after twitching the Dusky Warbler, and Alan Reynolds.
Despite our efforts, the Hawfinch did not show again until 1pm-twenty minutes after I left. Jan got a few images-posted on the Herts Birding Yahoo group.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

100 a month

Back in January, I installed a visitor counter. The flashy trial version was installed on the 7th and ran for a couple of weeks, but I decided to stay with the free basic one.
Yesterday I had my 100th hit. Rather more than I expected, but its nice to see that so many are from overseas.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


Today we visited Norfolk for the first time in months.
While filling up the feeders in the garden just before seven, I noticed the Space Station rise in the west over the Moon. I quickly set up the scope and at 50x the main body and the solar panels showed very well.
The trip to Norfolk was very pleasant with the Sun burning off the mist and we arrived at Snettisham to a heavy frost. Skeins of Pink Footed Geese were flying over, as were parties of Curlew. A Barn Owl hunting over the sea wall was nice. Then the wind picked up and a sea fog blew in.
We arrived at the beach and joined a few birders looking for Shorelark. After about twenty minutes they were found and showed quite well in the murk. A scan of the shore revealed small numbers of waders, including an Avocet and a few Knot.

A quick stopover at Hunstanton cliff-top was worthwhile for the Fulmar, but the sea fog was just as bad, and we did not intend to stay long at Titchwell.
A chat with Ray Tipper in the picnic area, and a meeting with William Bishop revealed that no-one had seen the Mealy Redpoll all morning, so we intended to leave. However someone came up to say it had been seen by the approach road so we headed there, and eventually got very good views.

As the fog seemed to be lifting we decided to head to the beach with William. Bad move as it came back again. It was a case of can anyone see a bird. We did pick up a few things including a few Spotted Redshanks and Brent Geese. The beach was empty and the sea was barely visible.
On the way back, a few Water rail were entertaining and we saw The Mealy again.

We decided to head inland to Whitlingham Country Park in Norwich in the hope of escaping the fog, and it seemed to work for a while, but it eventually arrived. A close inshore Great Northern Diver was nice, and the Red Necked Grebe was even better as it is a not an easy bird to get now. The female Ring Necked Duck was rather distant but I managed to get a few decent images.

Finally since they were so approachable I decided to get some images of the Egyptian Geese.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Stevenage Firecrest

A Firecrest has been present for several days in Pryors Wood. It has been very elusive at times and some have had to make more than one visit to connect.
I had to be at home Tuesday, awaiting a large delivery and hoped to visit, but by the time it arrived it was getting dark. Could have spent the day at work, or popped out in the morning.
Anyway, as work finishes Friday lunchtime, and with it being a nice sunny day I thought I'd have a wander round. This used to be an old haunt back in the 80's but I stopped going as large housing estates were being built on the farm land adjacent, and my favourite blackberry bushes are now a main road.
Still it was a pleasant surprise to see the wood had not suffered greatly, and I soon encountered a pair of Marsh Tit, and Treecreepers and Nuthatches were everywhere. As Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits were singing it felt like spring in the sunshine.
The Firecrest was very elusive in the large stands of Holly and despite the constant presence of Long Tailed Tits I failed to locate it. However, after about half an hour, my attention was drawn to a small bare bush about twenty yards away and I realised that a very active and vocal Firecrest was showing quite well. I approached, and despite some camera trouble managed to obtain many images of dead leaves and in three of them a partially obscured Firecrest.
I was joined by an old friend John who is also a long time Stevenage birder and we reminisced about how the wood used to be (Hawfinch, Tree Pipit and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers used to breed, as did Willow Tit-all county rarities now).
Unfortunately, the Firecrest failed to show over the following hour, so left. As I was approaching the car, a Muntjac crossed the main road.