Monday, 31 December 2012

Very Very Quiet & Happy New Year

Well it's been very quiet on the birding front due to Christmas, lots of family commitments and an unexpected bereavement that resulted in Tina making a flying visit to Cape Town, so no time to get out anywhere since we last went to Upton.

The Garden has been very quiet as well with nothing out of the ordinary, although there has been a Sparrowhawk about on a couple of occasions flying down our street and over our local pub! The Black-headed Gulls seem unusually active, again around the pub.
Archive Photo of the Pub a couple of years ago!

Anyway a Happy New Year to our Reader!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Upton Warren Waxwing Vigil!!

Even though we had only come back from Norfolk the day before and had loads to do, we decided after seeing the forums to chance a visit to UW to see if the waxwings were still about.

We arrived and parked at Webbs as we saw quite a few folk around with scopes, cameras and bins. This was about 2.30, after parking up I collared the nearest Birder to see what was occuring (as Ness would say!) Anway the answer was nothing they had departed about 9am and hadn't been seen since!

We then flitted between Webbs and the Sailing Club car park, we had great sightings of 2 Kingfishers at the Sailing Club and the Great Crested Grebe are always worth looking at, so took a couple of pics to pass the time!

We were just about to give up and go home when we noticed a bit of activity at the SC Car Park some Waxwings had been spotted on a tree behind the Church at Upton Warren.
A kind soul let us view through his scope as I hadn't brought ours, we then decided what the heck, picked the car up from Webbs and drove over to the Church, the Waxwings were still there in the field behind the Church dropping down from the tree to pick some berries out of a bush. We then noticed some people entering the field along the Public Footpath, so we did the same and get a little closer, but they then had had enough and winged it up the A38! I didn't bother with the Camera as it was very murky and dark.

Almost felt like a twitcher!


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A Trip to Norfolk

We have just returned from a week in Norfolk, now it wasn't an intense birding trip although that was the primary objective, but no early starts after a hectic few weeks we wanted a bit of lie in as well. The only draw back with that is how quick it gets dark and apart from a couple of good days the weather wasn't great so it seemed to get dark even earlier.

We stayed in Sheringham so for Snettisham and things up that end it was an hours drive, but that was OK. First full  day (Sunday) we were meeting up with a usual partners in crime Jo & Jimmy at RSPB Snettisham around 2:30 so we decided to do a little NT visit first and have a walk around Felbrigg Hall estate and see what we could see and then head off to Snettisham to see what might come in to roost, unfortunately it was a middle tide so from the coastal hide it was still a fair distance out to any birds, there were thousands, but even with the scope in the fading light it was impossible to tell what was there altogether, although pretty sure about the Knot and Oystercatchers are impossible to miss!

Back to the start though and Felbrigg. As we drove onto the estate, these two little beauties were by the drive:
The walk produced a few nice staple birds (Little Egret, Cormorant, Greylag, Gadwall, Pheasant and Buzzard) to start the trip including this obliging Kestrel:
So on to Snettisham, not a lot more to add though, the highlights being some Goldeneye, Wigeon and Lapwing on the pools behind the hides.

So day 2 and off to Titchwell:
Titchwell was great the weather though very cold brightened up as the day went on and we got off to a great start with a female Red Crested Pochard, a lifer, so for the record:

and within 5 minutes lifer no 2 on the trees behind us, a flock of Waxwings:

Not the best shots but we couldn't get closer before they flew away.

The day produced lots of great birds; huge flocks of Golden Plover:

as well as:

and Teal, Lapwing, Bar Tailed Godwit, Goosander, Pintail, Redpoll, Greenshank, Tufted Duck, Pink Footed Geese, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting, Goldeneye, Shoveler and many more......

We left Titchwell to go to Holkham Pines to watch the Geese come in, we were a bit late most had arrived by the time we got there, but we did have a final flurry before it was dark. We were delighted though to see 3 Barn Owls hunting the nearby fields.

Next day the weather was truly dreadful, it rained the whole day, so we decided to head off to Sculthorpe Moor NR run by the Hawk and Owl Trust, not too far and some nice hides apparently. Because of the weather the roosting owls were hiding so that was disappointing if not unexpected, we did however pick up our 3rd and last lifer of the trip; Brambling, not that uncommon I know, but one we hadn't managed to see yet so that was great, unfortunately because of the bad light and the fact they were in a small clearing in the woods my photos of them are shocking so I won't put them up here, I will add the best of them to the gallery though for the record. I did get an only slightly fuzzy shot of a Red Legged Partridge though:
and another Water Rail:
we added a couple of other Birds to the Norfolk list here, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker

The following day Cranes were on the agenda so we headed down Hicklin Broads way and went for a walk ending up at Stubb Mill and we saw........ nothing! (Apart for some Marsh Harriers & Kingfishers)
We did a little detour down to Strumpshaw Fen RSPB before dusk to check it out and then shot back to Abbey Mill , decided it looked promising and planned it in for another day (in the 20 minutes we were there caught a very very brief glimpse of an Otter, brilliant!)

Next day started very bright as shown by these Starlings outside our digs:
Today was planned as let's drive along the coast and see what we can find around without stopping anywhere for too long. Headed for Salthouses first as we knew there was a Sacred Ibis about, but of course not when we were there. We actually visited, Salthouses, Cley Marsh (didn't go on the reserve), Wells Woods, Walsey Hills NOA, Brancaster Staithe and then back to Holkam for the Geese again.
We added some nice Turnstone to the list at Salthouses & Brancaster:
Brent Geese at Wells:
Redshank at Brancaster:

and at Holkham:

On Finals!
So now a full day at Strumpshaw Fen, we really liked this reserve, the RSPB reception is actually the first hide, with coffee/choc machine for those who need it, we only used this hide and the fen hide as the path along then river wasn't good, but the reward here were great, we were going to leave about 2:30 to go to Stubb Mill and try for Cranes again, but the lure of an Otter was to tempting:

So that was it, apart from dropping in to Abbey Farm at Flitcham on the way home for the Geese:

and finally seeing 3 Red Kites around Peterborough on the drive back.

So we didn't have a huge list, but we had some quality:

Avocet  (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Barn Owl  (Tyto alba)
Bar-tailed Godwit  (Limosa lapponica)
Bittern  (Botaurus stellaris)
Black Swan  (Cygnus atratus)
Blackbird  (Turdus merula)
Black-headed Gull  (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Blue Tit  (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Brambling  (Fringilla montifringilla)
Brent Goose  (Branta bernicla)
Buzzard  (Buteo buteo)
Carrion Crow  (Corvus corone)
Cetti's Warbler  (Cettia cetti)
Chaffinch  (Fringilla coelebs)
Coal Tit  (Periparus ater)
Collared Dove  (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Gull  (Larus canus)
Coot  (Fulica atra)
Cormorant  (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Curlew  (Numenius arquata)
Dunnock  (Prunella modularis)
Egyptian Goose  (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Fieldfare  (Turdus pilaris)
Gadwall  (Anas strepera)
Golden Plover  (Pluvialis apricaria)
Goldeneye  (Bucephala clangula)
Goldfinch  (Carduelis carduelis)
Great Black-backed Gull  (Larus marinus)
Great Crested Grebe  (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker  (Dendrocopos major)
Great Tit  (Parus major)
Greater Canada Goose  (Branta canadensis)
Greenfinch  (Chloris chloris)
Greenshank  (Tringa nebularia)
Grey Heron  (Ardea cinerea)
Greylag Goose  (Anser anser)
Herring Gull  (Larus argentatus)
House Sparrow  (Passer domesticus)
Jackdaw  (Corvus monedula)
Jay  (Garrulus glandarius)
Kestrel  (Falco tinnunculus)
Kingfisher  (Alcedo atthis)
Knot  (Calidris canutus)
Lapwing  (Vanellus vanellus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull  (Larus fuscus)
Lesser Redpoll  (Carduelis cabaret)
Little Egret  (Egretta garzetta)
Little Grebe  (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Magpie  (Pica pica)
Mallard  (Anas platyrhynchos)
Marsh Harrier  (Circus aeruginosus)
Marsh Tit  (Poecile palustris)
Moorhen  (Gallinula chloropus)
Mute Swan  (Cygnus olor)
Nuthatch  (Sitta europaea)
Oystercatcher  (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pheasant  (Phasianus colchicus)
Pied Wagtail  (Motacilla alba)
Pink-footed Goose  (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Pintail  (Anas acuta)
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Red-crested Pochard  (Netta rufina)
Red-legged Partridge  (Alectoris rufa)
Redshank  (Tringa totanus)
Reed Bunting  (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Robin  (Erithacus rubecula)
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon  (Columba livia)
Rook  (Corvus frugilegus)
Sanderling  (Calidris alba)
Shelduck  (Tadorna tadorna)
Shoveler  (Anas clypeata)
Siskin  (Carduelis spinus)
Snipe  (Gallinago gallinago)
Sparrowhawk  (Accipiter nisus)
Starling  (Sturnus vulgaris)
Teal  (Anas crecca)
Treecreeper  (Certhia familiaris)
Tufted Duck  (Aythya fuligula)
Turnstone  (Arenaria interpres)
Water Rail  (Rallus aquaticus)
Waxwing  (Bombycilla garrulus)
Wigeon  (Anas penelope)
Woodpigeon  (Columba palumbus)
Wren  (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

One for the Garden and Elsewhere

Well it's been a very quiet time on the birding front, with wedding anniversary, Tina's birthday (I won't mention the age, but she's caught me up again!) and the Children coming home, plus the recent weather has been awful, but sitting here looking at the rain and waiting for my works laptop to re-boot, I thought I'd add a few lines to the blog!

So since Upton we haven't been birding at all, although we took advantage of the late sunshine last Sunday (after a very late Saturday night!) to pop down to our favourite National Trust property; Charlcote Park.

It's always rewarding and is a great place to relax and go for a stroll amongst the Deer. Plus there's always a chance of  a bird or two and we weren't disappointed.

A Redwing taking berries from a Holly Tree by the Cafe was a good start. (Whilst we were having a coffee of course.) The usual small birds were around as well, Robin, Tits, Chaffinch etc.

So we then took ourselves off for a stroll. The Deer were close to the house which was nice and let us get quite close, we continued on a circular walk around the estate coming back via the pond. We were then surprised by a Sparrowhawk zooming after some small bird (Couldn't make out what as they were zipping around like a WWII dogfight) the Sparrowhawk gave up though as the littll'un fled for the trees.

We then arrived at the pond, not much about, Mallard and Moorhen, but then a flash of blue and our first Kingfisher at Charlcote. It stayed for a few minutes perched on a branch on the small island before disappearing in the fading light.

So to today, I just went down to the kitchen from my 'office' to make a drink and was happily watching a Coal Tit on the feeders in the Garden when I saw a movement in one of the trees, it was tiny... a Goldcrest, brilliant, a first for the Garden! I rushed to get Tina who is home today, but sadly to late, it had gone.

That's it.. we are off to Norfolk on Saturday for a week, staying on the coast, so hopefully might get a few firsts and add to our year list, you never know. I have been monitoring the forums and there's a lot of interesting stuff about, but I'm sure never where we will be or the usual when when we get somewhere, "oh you should have been here 10 minutes ago......"

So next blog will be when we get back!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Couple of Hours at Upton Warren

So now its getting dark so early we just about managed a couple of hours at Upton on Saturday before it got dark.

Our main objective was to see Water Rail, this is a bird that eludes us all the time, we have only had one sighting in the past 18 months, at Slimbridge, so reading that they seem abundant at UW at the moment we went down, also hoping to see some Redpoll and Brambling if we were lucky.

We went to the new hide at Moors Pool first, to get that all important Coffee in (there's a bit more room in there) We stayed in there about 40 minutes, but no Water Rail, plenty of activity on the feeders though:

Bullfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Blue & Great Tits, Blackcap and Pheasant were very busy and gave me some nice shots.

So after Coffee we popped into the concrete hide. Two friendly chaps told us the Water Rail had been out all the time whilst they were waiting for the Kingfisher. But of course even though we waited and waited, nothing!! A nice female Reed Bunting did oblige though:
A Lesser Black Backed Gull being chased by a Black-headed Gull proved entertaining:

The Cormorant must be thinking he should have got the fish first!
A Robin posed nicely:
and the Cormorants were taking in the last of the Sun:
So we gave up on the Water Rail and decided for a last twenty minutes over at the Lapwing Hide to see the Snipe and see if we could get a better view of the Pintail that we had seen in the distance from the New Hide.

We did see the Snipe, however the Jack Snipe were in hiding. Good job we had good views of a Jack up at Cresswell the other week. The Pintail was a little closer, but still not great views. A good display was had by a Kestrel:
The light was really going now so not a great photo.
So that was it, 30 species for a couple of hours isn't bad, not the ones we were after though, but that's birding for you!