Sunday, 16 October 2011

A 'Typical' Autumn Day's Birding in Norfolk!

After the madness of Friday evening and the first winds from a reasonable direction this autumn, it was decided that some decent bird searching was in order (and later, if the Robin was still present, we would return for better views).

We hit the coast for first light and slowly started to make our way through suitable habitat. There was plenty of activity: thrushes, robins and a larger number of Dunnocks that would be expected locally, all made there presence known as they called from their roost sites.

A thin, sharp, robin-like alarm call, came from a hedge-line in the early light, from a slim robin-like bird seen as silhouette, so presumably a Robin! It was lost to view!

One of the first birds really noted was a Richard's Pipit calling, unseen, as it moved west. Another call, although not recognised at the time, was also heard as we headed towards to sea. T here was some movement overhead, although not as much as hoped for. The call from earlier was heard again, definitely seaward. We thought it was gull-ish, but nothing we'd heard before. I scanned the sea and saw a close diver take off and disappear west. I inquired if this could have made the call. We listened to Red-throated Diver, which it obviously wasn't. Then a call was played that was an exact match - Black-throated Diver, the first I'd ever heard!

Although, a few Siskins and Bramblings could be picked out, the sea produced to next good bird, as a winter plumaged Black Guillemot was found, drifting east. Three Pintail were also of interest and again there was a small trickle of ducks, auks and Gannets. A distant Marsh Harrier moving east over the sea was interesting, as well as another, seemingly prospecting its new land-fall before drifting south. A single Short-eared Owl was picked up coming in from the NE and finally ditching down safely to re cooperate. A group of 6 Little Gull were noted.
A 'phone call alerted us to a nearby Yellow-browed Warbler that had been heard, so we headed off in that direction. No sooner as we arrived at the location, the bird called twice, allowing me to locate it and get good views of this delightful bird. However, this was interrupted by news on the pager of a Radde's Warbler that had been trapped and would be released at 11.30am at Weybourne. Deciding we had enough time, we made our way over and were privileged to be there when the bird was shown before being released by the car park.
One of the assembled crowd decided to voice his opinions about the ethics of ringing and I took it upon myself to 'argue' the case! He was rather surprised when I told him I wasn't even a ringer!

We decided to continue to try to find our own birds and scoured Friary Hills to no real avail! Wrens and Robins were showy, though!

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

GIGA: Rufous-tailed Robin, Warham Greens

Here is my story:

Having left work and tried Salthouse for any news on the Richard's Pipit, I continued onto Walsey Hills to look for the Yellow-browed Warbler. After a fruitless search, just missing someone else's sighting, it all broke:
MEGA Norfolk RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN north of Wells at East Hills this a'noon. Access details to follow.
Well that was it and I was on my way. Interestingly, some at Walsey didn't bother immediately, saying that it wouldn't be possible to get out to East Hills! Well, anyway, I continued. Maybe a route would be marked, maybe even a boat might be chartered, who knew, but I had to go and investigate.

Just as I was pulling into Garden Drove (the western-most access track) the pager went off again:
...still late a'noon ENE of Wells on Saltmarsh... (this sent the panic far and wide)
maniacal behaviour set in, as I created a tidal wave through the watered access road! Onto the concrete pad and a carload of 'birders' were already leaving (!) A quick check with them and I was off down the path. I was quite surprised at the number of people already there (there were some strange co-incidences involving some parties!) Over the next 40 mins or so there was no sign, when suddenly the bird was seen near one of its original places. Jockeying for position, I could see some movement in the leaves, but no bird! A few minutes later, it moved. Rubbish 'flight' views and it seemed to land nearby. Again no sign (the bird would seemingly remain motionless for periods, completely out of view). Then the shout went up again! A small number had very brief, but good views as it dropped down and flew straight over my head! Great flight views!! Even here the contrast between the vent and belly and 'smudged' grey (latter seen better to be described as mottled) flanks and throat could be noted.

It returned back to the 'original' tree, which was obviously and quickly surrounded. I joined a few in the field to try and find it from another view point. Again moments of nothing (and time to ask about the find and events that followed - there had been some 'rumours' around about timing etc, so it was good to hear from the finder and id'er!) but then another short flight. It went across the path and into some more ivy. I quickly clambered through some undergrowth and raised my bins to immediately see it move out of the ivy and into the branches, brief, but practically out in full view. I was amazed at the size of the birds eye, presumably exaggerated by the seemingly complete eye-ring. It was here that the olive brown upper parts were noted and, particularly the mottled grey, with white 'spots' and as it moved across and away, the final piece of the puzzle, the short, rufous tail could be see! Others next to me could see the bird moving through and we tried to get others on it. Some thought it moved through, but I hadn't noted any further movement. Whatever happened, I had no further views, although others were still seeing occasional movement in the fading light.

I took the opportunity to thank and congratulate the finder and asked a number of 'locals' if there was any thought about arranging parking and access, but no-one seemed interested! Credit goes (I believe) to Richard Millington, who contacted the land owners and arranged access to the field for parking.

Obviously, I would have like better views (and was ready to return today if the bird had still been present, but decided to avoid the madness)! I have heard that anyone 'counting' the bird after 5 pm would 'do so on their own concience', but those of you who know me, know I have no conscience, so...

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

More 'Foreign' Trips: Pics By Julian Bhalerao

'Well there's nothing in Norfolk, at least nothing we know about....' from JB

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sandhill Crane Twitch - Boyton Marshes, Suffolk

Mega: 02 Oct 11:43 MEGA Suffolk SANDHILL CRANE ...

After the initial disappointment that the bird had bypassed (at least visually,l if not physically - although a suggestion that 'it' flew past Cley about 3 y'day, but unreported, is still in the gossip stage! I've even been reliably  - and hopefully honestly - told that it wasn't even seen off the 'Bermuda Triangle' that is the East coast) Norfolk and downed itself in Suffolk (although, possibly having spent the night somewhere near Kessingland...!) I had to decide if I wanted to twitch out-of-county again to try and see this mega.

The decision didn't take long! After a quick dress-up, I called Kieran, who was up for the twitch, and, after a quick discussion, decided the best option was to pick him up on route and make our way down. It takes c 15 mins to get to Kieran's and in this time the bird had left North Warren (its original stop off) and headed south again. Another quick decision was needed and soon we decided to head off anyway and just see what happens. Neither of us were that confident, with the thought of it continuing south into Essex and being lost amongst its inlets!

About 1/2 hour into our South-ward journey the pleasing news came through the pager and I calmly passed on the news that it had relocated to Sudbourne Marshes, near Orford. The destination in the SatNav was changed and we continued on our way with higher expectations (and possibly slightly higher speeds, some overtaking was 'interesting' to say the least - but of course always safe and legal (you can never tell who reads these!))

Then came the confusing message that the bird was at Boyton Marshes at 1 pm, with no message that it have flown again! A quick bit of map reading and SatNav changing had us heading to Boyton (which didn't seem to exist on road signs until we got there!) 'Meeting' a couple of cars in the village and noting 'Boyton Hall Lane' we headed down to the parking carnage that was occurring around the bird! Some interesting (in)decisions by other drivers and 'imaginative' parking on my behalf of myself, lead to a 10 metre walk to view the bird!

'Showing Well' views were a little distant and in strong heat haze, hence the quality of the pics! But. hey, it's the Sandhill Crane!

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JB's recent pics before the Mega!

Grafham Water

 Burnham Overy Dunes

The Brecks

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