Sunday, 26 September 2010

Blakeney Point

Horrible day today, doing the three mile each way trudge up Blakeney point. Was not bad at first, just a bit windy, but not long after I got to the plantation, right at the end, drizzle turned to horizontal rain, the wind picked up and eventually spray and sand added to the mix.
All for something we cannot identify.
Yesterday, and Empidonax Flycatcher was found. Initially Alder/Willow/Least, then the latter was dropped and Acadian added to the mix before it was decided that it looked yellowish, so it was definitely Yellow Bellied. American comments on the photos suggested otherwise and by this morning we were back to the Trail's pair Alder and Willow. Having seen the Cornish bird two years ago which was almost certainly Alder (but the record is now being assessed) there was a bit less urgency but we had to go just in case.
Did not see many birds on the way up-various large gulls and Kittiwakes, Reed Buntings and a few flyby waders. Got to the plantation not long after 1130, and got a few glimpses of the bird moving around the sallows and sycamores. Set the camera up and waited. A Little Bunting dropped in, sat on top of a tall bush and then vanished. Did not see it myself. Did see a warbler, which may have been Yellow Browed, but only for a moment.
The Flycatcher proved elusive as the conditions deteriorated, but I did get a very good view before the rain got too heavy.No sign of any yellow to me, and it did look very much like the Cornish bird.
One or two Blackbirds and thrushes were seen on the way back, but conditions were so bad I could hardly see a thing.
Everything is wet-shoes clothes, camera you name it. Not a fun day.
Could not face going to Wells Woods for a Bonnelli's Warbler-supposed to be Western which I've seen anyway.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Colins Arctic Warbler

Colin managed to get a couple of decent images on Saturday

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Unblocked at Last

Have been watching the reports from Norfolk over the last few days, mainly because the NOA ringed an Arctic warbler recently, and it has been seen daily since. I've dipped three times over the last fifteen years.....
Arrived at Holme at nine and the pagers said no sign, but luckily a report soon came in. Parked in the NOA car park and had a quick chat with Jed before heading off to the pines and joined the small crowd. Viewing turned out to be very tricky, with the birds staying high up in the pine trees, and a rather strong wind. Managed to get a glimpse of the bird before it flew off-something which we became accustomed to over the next hour or so. The best view I got early on was of the rear end of the bird directly overhead and then it got rather frustrating with shadows deep in the trees from the top of the dunes by the old sea watching hide. Some people got cracking views and others only a few feet away got nothing.
Things went quiet for a bit, with the bird apparently skulking high in a dense pine for a long time, so I was rather shocked to see it appear in an open bush only a few feet from me-I got all the features, supercilium, wing bars, pale feet the lot. It remained in view for a few minutes, working its way through before flying off again. Never did get a picture though.
Called in at Redwell Marsh on the way back, and spent a pleasant half hour in and around the hide. Plenty of hirundines feeding over the pool, including several Swift. The main reason for visiting was the Red Necked Phalarope which, like the Arctic Warbler has been here for a few days. It stayed rather distant, and for a spell was pushed to the back of the pool by some geese, but eventually flew fairly close to us.

Spent a lot of time with the other photographers trying to get the hirundines and duck flying through.

We eventually left and went to Titchwell. The main path has just been opened as far as the island hide. Lots of waders on the lagoon, mainly Ruff and Black Tail Godwits. Single Knot and Greenshank were present, but the main target was the small flock of Little Stints associating with the Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. Every now and again they would come quite close to the hide.

By far the rarest bird of the day was something we have seen lots of over the years, but this one was rather special. A flock of Spoonbills had been present early on, but departed leaving a single juvenile bird. This bird was almost certainly one of the ten fledged at Holkham in the summer, and therefor British bred.

Will be interesting to see how they will do over the next few years (and whether Glossy Ibis will be next on the list).

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Its September

Its September at last, the East Coast (well a bit of Yorkshire) has had some excellent rarities, and I stay at home and stick to my local patches. Actually, as Colin is busy all weekend, and as I have seen Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (plus loads of Booted, Barred Warblers etc) there is no real desperate need to go anyway.
Had Friday off again, and spent an hour in the morning at Norton Green. Met up with a couple of more regular visitors, but we did not see much. A Red Kite over the gypsy camp was about the best bird, and there are still a few warblers such as Whitethroat and Blackcap around. Swallows were moving south and lingering over the tip-I had a total of 30 while I was there.
Decided to go to Telegraph Hill for some vis mig, but the lay-bys were full so I just drove round for a bit, encountering more Red Kites up near Shillington.

Saturday morning was spent at Amwell. Did quite well in terms of species counted, as a few Teal and Wigeon were in, and there are now a lot more Shoveller, Pochard and Tufties. Large Gulls are also appearing, with Herring and Great Black Back present.  Went for a walk across the Hollycross Dragonfly trail, encountering a few Migrant Hawkers, Common Blues and Common Darters. Marsh and Coal Tit were heard as well.
At the watchpoint, spent much of the time chatting to Jan and William, and we had a surprise bird in the calling Nuthatch which eventually flew out of a tree and over the water. We also had flyby Grey Wagtail, juvenile Hobby and Common Sandpiper.

This morning I thought I'd try Aston End and the river Beane in the hope of finding a Redstart again. Did not see one, in fact did not see much at all. It was a bit windy, and very cloudy, and all I saw in the way of possible migrants was single juvenile Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. The only unusual sight was a flock of 30+ Linnet.
Took the camera with me, and the flash with a view to trying it out on autumnal leaves, berries and so on. Did not see anything worth taking until I got to the old willow where I had found it encrusted with Sulpher Polyphore. This year is not as good, as the best bit was high up and obscured, but a small patch looked nice. The flash was a bit of a disaster, with the 'fill in' totally wiping the subject out. Eventually found a setting of around 1/64th that seemed to work by enhancing the texture without compromising the overall look.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

BankHoliday Part2

Over the weekend, the wind forecast was beginning to look rather promising, with strong north westerlies in the north sea through Sunday evening and into Monday. This prompted some discussion on the forums, and on that basis, I decided that as we had not had a decent sea watch all year, that Sherringham would be a good idea.  While at Amwell  I had also talked it up sufficiently and  Jan and William also made plans.
Colin and I arrived at 8 am, and it looked pretty good with a fairly strong onshore wind. The main shelter was full, and most of the other places were packed too. I managed to find a spot with another guy on the sea front itself, which, while standing was completely out of the wind, but rather low down.
Initially it seemed to be predominantly Gannets and Kittiwakes , and most seemed to be rather more distant than anticipated. Now and again, terns were flying by, both Commic and more frequently Sandwich. At least two definite Arctics were seen early on. It took a while, but eventually a few Bonxies put in an appearance-usually in small groups, though I did at one point have seven in view. Arctic Skuas appeared later in the morning, and often lingered on the sea waiting to harry the terns. One of four looked rather pale and grey, but although two Long Tails were claimed, I don't think it was one.
Three Storm Petrels were seen, but not by me, and by the time I was able to get a higher vantage point and scan specifically for them, the action started to die down. Most of the (few) shearwaters I saw were very far out, and only two or three Manx could be safely identified. Similarly Auks were very distant. Ducks and waders were more obliging with parties of Eider, Common Scoter, Wigeon, Teal, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oystercatchers passing by.
Not the best Bank Holiday sea watch (and we have had quite a few in Norfolk over the years) but a pretty good three and a half hours.

We headed off to Cley (as did Jan and William) and we met up on Blakeny Point some way west of the car park and joined the small crowd which was hoping to see the Short Toed Lark. It had been seen earlier in the day, but had gone missing some hours previously. Despite waiting, and an organised flush it did not put in an appearance until long after we had left.
Colin and I headed off to the North Hide to see some of the Spoonbills, but we had only got to the Eye Pool when I saw one flying off west over Cley village. We got decent views-Colin got a photo of it flying over the church tower so decided to head to Pats Pool instead.
We spent some time on the waders-a large flock of Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers were constantly flying around. Also one or two Spotshanks and Whimbrel flew over, and Godwits and duck were present in some numbers.

Just before we left aSnipe dropped in.

A juvenile Red Backed Shrike up the road just east of Walsey Hills was tempting and we joined the small throng. It proved to be rather distant in the bottom of a hedge but the views were good. Reports of Redstart at Walsey Hills was a good enough reason to visit, yet the first person I met claimed to have only seen a Pied Flycatcher. All we could manage were squeaking juvenile Chiffchaffs, two Whitethroat, a Blackcap and a few tits.
Called in at Weeting on the way back home, on the last day the centre was open. Unfortunately it has been one of those periodic years when Ragwort has been abundant, and the last three Stone Curlew remained hidden from view.