Friday, 26 November 2010

Another Waxwing Image


Got a message this morning of 22 at the top of Sish Lane, off Grace Way.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Long Weekend

Using up some holiday at the moment. First really cold night of the winter, and this weekend is not going to get much above zero, so may not be going far.
Spent an hour or so driving around the Pin Green area of Stevenage. There have been six Waxwings present in and around Mildmay Road over the previous couple of days. Did not find any, and knowing they were a bit flighty I checked the more traditional areas around Canturbury Way, again with no success.
Lots of Starling flocks to confuse the issue.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Nice day in Norfolk

 After last weekends dire trip, it was great to have a good day out on Saturday. Decided to ignore the delights of Manchester and it's Pied Billed Grebe (seen loads-they were year listing padders in the 90's) and the American Robin at Exminster, and hit the Norfolk coast.
 Drove through Ringstead and on to Chosely in the hope of picking up some thrushes. Quite a lot of Fieldfare on the hawthorns-all on Colin's side of the car and too flighty for his camera, and we found flocks of Red Legged Partridge too-again on his side. Not much at Chosely Barns so we carried on to Titchwell.
 Had a chat with Ray Tipper in the car park about the new (unopened) Parrinder hide-shows well from the barns and the Pallas's warbler, which had been around for some time.
 Spent some time in the car park and woods, but in the event, no Pallas's and not much else either so carried on to the marsh. Water levels were a bit high-plenty of Pintail and Teal, and a few Avocets lingering. Suddenly I noticed a Bonxie flying around the fresh marsh and this had the effect of putting everything up. It eventually dropped onto the water before moving on to one of the islands, and after a while went up again which is when I discovered I had not got the camera set up for flight shots.

Too low a shutter speed and having the shutter set to focus lock is not a good idea when things are close and moving fast. Neither is the 1.7 converter.
 One of the benefits of the brute scattering everything was a small flock of Dunlin flew off with two Little Stints among them. Rather late birds for this location.
 On the brackish marsh we soon found the flock of Twite which have been a bit of an attraction. Getting hard to find at the traditional coastal spots these days. Only three were close enough for the camera. A lot of Skylark, a few Meadow Pipits and two Scandinavian Rock Pipits were with them.

  The sea seemed quiet, in part due to the off shore breeze. Took a long time for the Common Scoter flocks to show themselves. Had a few Eider, Goldeneye and Mergansers among them. Single very distant Slavonian Grebe and an adult Little Gull. Few waders on the beach apart from the Sanderling.

On the way back the Bonxie was still around-Ray said that in the many years he had been at the reserve, he had never seen one on the fresh marsh. Got back to the visitor centre and did not take long to find a flock of Goldfinch, Siskin and Redpolls. One or two pale birds, but nothing that could be called Mealy. A single Brambling was associating with the Chaffinches.

 Spent the early afternoon at Burnham Overy, parked by the main road. Lots of Barn Owls floating around, always nice to see. Several Buzzards, including an interesting pale bird, but I never saw a Rough Legged though others apparently did. One very distant bird on the ground was where one of the Rough Legs had been seen to land but it was too far to make anything out. Several Marsh Harriers too. The apparent Northern Hen Harrier (Marsh Hawk) had been seen earlier but presumably had flown through.
Lots of Pink Feet and a few Barnacles among the more usual wild fowl.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Crap Day Out

Had a long weekend.
 Went for a walk around Aston End and along the river Beane Friday morning. Despite the recent winds, some of the trees and hedges look quite nice, but hard to find any berries-as mentioned a while back, a lot of hedges have been badly cut this year. Tried desperately to get some good images, but could not get a good composition with my available lenses.
Wildlife seemed a bit scarce at times, as the ploughed fields are greening up. Surprised to see a Red Kite drift down river-first I've ever seen here. Big flock of Grey Partridge in the horse paddocks, and a few small groups of thrushes as well. Around 25 Yellowhammer is big for this area too.
 Saturdays plan was to  go to the Norfolk coast via Welney and try and get a few extra year ticks especially as there were a few good photogenic subjects around.
 I woke up in the early hours feeling a bit rough, Colin arrived 20 minutes late thanks to extra diversions on the way, and some way into our journey he realised he had left his jacket behind. Kind of went downhill after that.
 Arrived at Welney around 0830 to find the Glossy Ibis was no where to be seen. Couple of people had been here since daybreak. Gave it a couple of hours, and had a lot of flyby dabbling ducks, some Bewick's, and a distant Marsh Harrier putting everything up on the reserve scrapes a mile to the north. Big flocks of Lapwing held a lot of Golden Plover. Eventually decided the bird may have gone courtesy of the rain and cold night, so headed off to the Cattle Egret at Guyhirn.
 Arrived, having found big herds of Bewick's in a number of fields to be told that the Egret had been seen briefly when the farmer had been in the field, but had dropped into  ditch. With a lot of the ground hidden from view, it did not look good, but after a long wait, and the constant blast of car horns the cattle decided to start moving. Thought this might bring the Egret into view but no such luck. Worse still, the Ibis was back on the road side pool, so we went back for it.
 When we got there everyone was back by the bridge. Apparently it had flown in from a long way north, settled by the pool and was feeding. Bunch of birders then descended and made so much noise it flew again. Stuck it out for another couple of hours, and apart from a large black bird flying into a reedy hollow a good half mile to our north we saw nothing. Early afternoon both Colin and I were starting to feel a bit rough so decided to give up and come home. Had not gone far when we got the message that the Ibis had been seen again. No idea if it was a distant speck or if it had come back to the roadside as we had no further messages.
 Sunday morning spent three hours at Amwell. Got rather cold. Strange to see that a lot of the ducks had gone as had all the geese. Small numbers of Wigeon, a few Teal and the lone rather grotty Pintail remained.   Some Siskin flew over, as did some Redwing. May have had other thrushes too, but most were distant.
Barry Reed arrived, having come back from the Irish Northern Harrier twitch. Not sure what he would have made of the later messages of a probable in Norfolk for the last couple of weeks. Went for a walk with William to try and warm up and went to visit the Red Crested Pochards-down to three now, as per last winter. Still no Goldeneye, but we do have a Bittern now.

Monday, 1 November 2010

American Bittern

Well we did it.
 Left at midnight Saturday, and got down to Zennor and found a place to park just off the road near the pools. Had about an hours kip before it got light.
 Joined the growing throng around 6.30am and stood on the roadside overlooking the gorse, rush/sedge beds and pool. It was rather chilly. We had a few birds over the next couple of hours-one Buzzard walking among the cows, assorted crows and some flyover Golden Plovers. LIke most of the crowd, started to get a bit despondent when it failed to show around 8 ish which seemed to be about the time it usually left the roost. Some thought it had gone, perhaps down to Zennor where there seems to be better habitat.
 Had a scan of the crowd and spotted Jan and William-they got down too late on Saturday, missed bird, including an amazing the Peregrine attack and had to find a place to stay overnight. Had a chat with them for a bit and carried on with the vigil.
 At just after nine, I went back to them and we watched a group apparently investigating the farm track and got a bit worried that they might go in. Luckily that did not happen and soon after the cows came down to the pool and through the rushes. As the Bittern did not fly, we assumed it had definitely gone and one guy-with almost unanimous approval (someone said if it was flushed he would not even look despite having spent loads of money on the long journey) went to the back of the pool to investigate.
 He had not gone far when the Bittern suddenly flew out-he was quite a way from the bird at the time. We all managed to get good views in bins and scopes. Even to the naked eye it appeared a bit smaller and thin billed, and the upper-parts were a lot plainer, paler and the wing trailing edges were also pale buff.
 Got a few shots with the 300mm lens, but had to use a high iso in the poor light.

It flew north, then circled round and headed back, and then dropped into a belt of short pines. Assuming it had dropped down in the filed we went to investigate, but saw nothing. With cows moving through the trees we assumed it had made it's way back to the pools, but just as we were leaving someone spotted it sitting in a tree. It moved back quickly and few got on it.
 Left just after eleven, and being a bit tired, decided not to call in elsewhere and headed home.
 Having just posted my images to Bird Forum, Lee Evans etc, I hear it has been found today on the Camel Estuary where some gripping images have been obtained.