Tuesday, 27 January 2009

GWE take 2

A quiet start at Sculthorpe produced the hoped for Willow Tit, around the first feeder by the portacabin and then later around the Woodland Trail, seen well and calling with at least two Marsh Tits around. The plastic Golden Pheasants showed well and the centre is still claiming that there are females around.
News of the Dipper had me heading to Natural Surroundings in the hope of getting better pics, but returning to form it was not there whilst I was. I didn't want to spend too much time as I wanted to look for the Twite at Brancaster Staithe. It seems to be the case that if you are to see them, then they must be present on arrival and this time it proved true! A flock of c 30(!) were on the mud bank to the east by the saltmarsh, then flew west. Other birds were showing well in the pleasant light.

Not soon after arriving at Titchwell news of a Great White Egret at Holkham (where I had just driven past!) had me returning, but to no avail. The distant Short-eared Owl and two Barn Owls kept me company, along with three + Marsh Harriers and a few Little Egret.

A drive through Holkham Hall grounds produced the lovely deer and the day ended along Lady Anne's Drive, where (in the fading light) at least one Black Brant and two hybrids were seen.
Monday had me vainly looking for a Penduline Tit in Suffolk, but, more importantly, a quick scan of the gulls on Holkwold Flash (Norfolk) produced an adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst the hoards.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

19th Time Lucky!

Another visit to West Norfolk for Black Redstart and a rumoured Rough-legged Buzzard, where the only bird of significance was a 1st win drake Scaup, was rudely interrupted by news of the Black-bellied Dipper again at Letheringsett (Little Thornage) Ford. Quick change of plans and a quick drive (via petrol, which nearly proved disastrous) had us arriving on site to find the bird had departed south seconds before our arrival! Knowing the area and checking with others who were sheltering in their cars from the rain, we quietly made our way onto the footbridge, where the Dipper was located feeding from the gravel on the east side of the river. Yes! After watching it actively feed for a while, often submerging for seconds into the flowing stream, we departed happy, having finally seen he bird, for me after 18 attempts since last November!

Returning to West Norfolk a Peregrine was located, but little else. Moving south, we ended up crossing the boarder into Cambs to see the Great White Egret near Pymoor (which was rather distant. Many swans were seen, as were a few geese, which when covered in mud provided some interesting identification problems!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

'Undisclosed Sites', West Norfolk

A phone call about a Great Grey Shrike showing, awoke me from my slumber (c9.30!) Within the hour I was on site, but another call had me changing my plans as a Dartford Warbler had been located elsewhere. I moved site and, after a wait, a stunning male Dartford Warbler was seen briefly, but extremely well, perched upon the vegetation. At least 2 pairs of Stonechat were also seen. Returning to the original site the Great Grey Shrike was seen perched up on two occasions. The second, showing really well. Also here were a small, brown Peregrine and Sparrowhawk. Nearby, a flock of 27 Crossbills were seen, with 2 other pairs noted.
Another observer is 'convinced' that a Goshawk called on a couple of occasions and although I heard it, I just can't be as sure, so I'll have to wait until I see one!

After all this excitement, I decided to head for the north coast and was close by when news of the Ross's Goose at Burnham Overy Staithe came through. Soon it was located, showing well with Pink-feet. At least two hybrid Black Brant/Dark-bellied Brent Geese were seen, one being very convincing in certain light until it turned round and showed its true colours! Another interesting site was c100, White-fronted Geese flying overhead near Gun Hill. Barn Owls were seen at Burnham Norton and Overy Staithe.

On Friday after school a quick visit to Salthouse produced a Merlin spooking Golden Plover, along with a Barn Owl.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Another Day, Another Dip

A trip to Buckenham Marshes for a hoped for Green-winged Teal. did not produce the bird, but did produce a number of interesting sightings. One Dunlin, 3 Ruff and 50+ Black-tailed Godwit were seen, with 1000s of Wigeon, but only small groups of Teal. Two Marsh Harriers drifted over, occasionally putting up all the birds. Two RSPB workers flushed a Jack Snipe, but seemed oblivious to its presence. A wonderful Chinese Water Deer dashed across the marsh. A single goose amongst the feral Barnacles had me interested and I am still not sure of its parentage!
(best suggestion seems to be a hybrid Snow/Barnacle).

Monday, 19 January 2009

Same Old, Same Old!

I had not really expected to see the Dipper today, but felt like I had to try! I did manage to find a pair of Ruddy Shelduck feeding in fields.

But after 1 1/2 hours searching the river around Hunworth, with no more than a Little Egret, I decided to head up to Sheringham. One Purple Sandpiper was immediately located on rocks by the short stay car park at the north end of the town and showed well bathing and slipping around on the rocks (three birds were reported later).

A walk around Sheringham Country Park produced calling and seen Nuthatch by the entrance and after a while a small flock produced a Firecrest, a few Long-tailed and Coal and a showy Treecreeper.

I returned to Hunworth (only to get frustrated by news of another bird that was not put out because they did not want others on a bird race to see it! - my frustration with all that has gone on recently boiled over, so I apologise for my language at the time!) when, just before noon, news came out that the Dipper was at Letheringsett. At last, I thought, being only 5 minutes away I really thought I'd see it, but no! The bird had been present at the site for at least 1/2 hour but disappeared - probably before the pager message came out, and, unfortunately, the only other person to see it other than the two re-finders is one of the nicest birders in the county (I really mean that). Unfortunately, he was too nice and asked the others if they minded if he put the news out, they asked for 5 more minutes so that they could photograph it even more! (then the excuses of the message not coming out straight away etc!)
I spent another couple of hours searching the general area to no avail, so the selfish act of these people, who (presumably) were looking for the bird on other people's news meant that the only time it was viewable today was missed by the 20 or so birders who had also spent a lot of time looking for it (me, bitter, yes!)
I stopped off at Guist on the way home, where a pair of Mandarins were seen, giving their weird crocking call as they flew.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Plastic Fantastic (as used by a birder who didn't bother to be helpful)

Drake Falcated Duck, with Wigeon and in Norfolk (but not at Strumpshaw), must be genuine. Just a shame it was wing clipped and on a farm pond!

I am always intrigued by the birds kept in small holding such as this and wonder if the owners have an concept of what they 'own'.