Saturday 27 July 2013

In search of Two-barred Crossbill

We started the morning at Lynford Arboretum, scanning the Larch trees close to the visitor hut. Crossbills were already present and feeding at the tops of these trees as we started the search.
Most were female and juveniles but there was one male among them. As the birds flew from the tree I counted 15 birds within the flock, calling noisily as they went.
They weren't gone for long, a quick circle of the nearby trees and smaller numbers were back feeding in the same treetops.
Scanning each and every bird found within the trees still didn't produce a sighting of any two-barred, with Common Crossbills, Siskins, Chaffinch and Coal Tit all noted.

Leaving Lynford, it was off to Kelling Heath again in search of a Two-barred. One had been reported as present at 6.10 this morning.
On arrival we were met with more bad news, as the bird had not been seen since that first sighting of the morning.
We joined the growing crowds either side of the level crossing and waited for any sight or sound of the target.Unfortunately this is all we did for the next few hours.
There was no sightings of the bird while we were there, despite the bird being reported as present at 10.27am on the news services. We were there at this time and nobody that was present at this time had seen the bird.
Time for a change of scenery, and a quick visit to Cley. A scan of Pat's Pool adding Black-tailed Godwit, Knot, Common and Green sandpipers but no sign of any Curlew or Wood Sandpipers.
With time running short and rain forecast, there's still time for a visit to Titchwell.
Heading off along the footpath heading for Parrinder hide (south). Before reaching the hide Brian has two Curlew Sandpipers in the scope. A welcome first year tick of the day.

A scan from here produces a good variety of species including Spotted Redshanks, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper along with 17 Spoonbill.

A strange and largely unproductive day's birding. But it beats working any day of the week.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Little Owls

Despite the disappointing weather conditions this morning, I spent an enjoyable 2-3 hours watching a family of Little Owls.
They weren't as active this morning as they had been on previous visits but still proved very entertaining.


The parents didn't venture down to the ground very often this morning, but were quite mobile and turned up in numerous locations in the area.

Black Scoter? Titchwell Norfolk

With news of a possible 1st summer Black Scoter seen offshore at Titchwell, we decide to make the trip and maybe bag an insurance tick just in case.
The day didn't quite go to plan as far as the scoter or the weather  was concerned.
Leaving Essex at 6am the weather looked good, but nearing Norfolk and Titchwell the weather had turned and light rain was hitting the windscreen.
Heading off along the footpath the rain is directly into the face, So a brief stop at Island hide was in order until the rain eased off.
At Parrinder hide (south) there was plenty of activity to keep us occupied and entertained. Six Spoonbills  4 adults and 2 juveniles flew in, with the juveniles constantly begging for food.
A smart Little Stint was found feeding among a small group of Dunlin, Spotted Redshanks were now well on the way into winter plumage. 4 Little Gulls, a single Common Sandpiper and a very welcome year tick in the form of a Green Sandpiper. Ruff were present in good numbers and in varying plumages. 

Sadly one of these Ruff had lost one of it's legs below the knee. But it didn't seem to hinder it very much and it was happily hopping around feeding as well as any of the other Ruff.
Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets were seen in good numbers with a few Avocet chicks in varying stages of development were seen along with two juvenile Little Ringed Plover.

Reaching the beach and scanning the sea we were disappointed to find just a single Common Scoter a few Gannets and Little and Sandwich Terns.
Speaking to some of the locals who had seen the scoter over the last couple of days, it seems they are not convinced about this birds credentials, and are much more inclined towards an aberrant Common Scoter.
Along the shoreline there were large numbers of Knot along with Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwits and Turnstones.

Saturday 13 July 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper, Rainham Marshes

While waiting for news of whether the Pectoral Sandpiper had stayed for another day at Rainham, News of a Little Owl being spotted again very close to home saw me grab the camera and bins and go in search of it.
Five minutes after leaving the house I'm searching the most likely looking trees it was spotted in.
No sign at first, so dad moves round to the other side of the play area and quickly locates the owl sitting out enjoying the sunshine.

Arriving back home just after 9, and a quick check of the bird news services has good news. The Pec Sandpiper is still present at Rainham.
Wasting no time it's in the car and heading for Rainham, arriving at the car park shortly after 9.30.
Heading through the reserve centre and off down the path towards Aveley Pools. Reaching the first platform to find plenty of familar faces already present.
After a little moving about with the scope to get a clear view, the Pectoral Sandpiper is found feeding on a narrow strip of land near the back the the pool.
It's very active and gives good views and a chance to study the birds features.
A couple of Little Ringed Plovers are also present along with plenty of Grey Herons and half a dozen Black-tailed Godwits.
 At Purfleet scrape there's good numbers of Little Egrets along with a few Redshanks and a single Black-tailed Godwit.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Bridled Tern, Ascension Frigatebird or just a day out at Titchwell, Norfolk

Bridled Tern at Saltholme in Cleveland and an Ascension Frigatebird at Bowmore, Islay.
Islay is out of the question, and as it turns out there are no sightings of the bird throughout the day. So just Bridled Tern left to ponder. Do we really want to spend ten plus hours in a car to tick one bird, albeit a mega? No we don't.

So it's a day birding down in Norfolk, and a visit to Titchwell. Arriving at the car park around 8am we make our way past the shop and cafe and head out along the footpath.
The first bird heard was a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away from within the first belt of trees on the left of the footpath. Although the bird was reeling constantly we failed to locate the bird.

A short stop off at Island hide gives us great close up views of a pair of Avocet's and three chicks, and views of Bearded Tits among the reeds. Scanning the Freshwater marsh Brian spots a single Spoonbill asleep at the edge of one of the islands in front of Parrinder hide (South). A year tick for me.
On the walk to the hide, there's a single Spotted Redshank feeding in the corner of the marsh. Turning the corner and heading down the path allows us to get the sun behind us and thus get great views of the Spotted Redshank. A cracking bird in breeding plumage.
Scanning the marsh from Parrinder hide, the Spoonbill was still asleep. The bird taking on a strange shape as it rests on it's knee joints with it's feet in the air. It wakes briefly and a colour ring is visible (FJ9).
A bit of research shows the bird was ringed as a nestling in April 2007 at Sevilla, Casa Neves in Spain.

A further scan of the marsh, reveals another 7 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Little Ringed plovers with chicks, a small group of Knot with 2 of these in fine breeding plummage, a single Greenshank 3 Ruff and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits along with smaller number of Bar-tailed Godwits. There's also 4 Little Gulls present.
The Volunteer Marsh and Tidal marsh produces very little, with large areas of Volunteer Marsh completely dried out.
At the beach there are 400-500 Common Scoter resting on the sea, with small numbers of Little Terns seen diving for food just off the shoreline. Along with a few Sandwich Terns.

The walk back down towards the car, produced the sighting of the Grasshopper Warbler we were after this morning. Seen sitting on top of a small bush in full view still reeling away.

Leaving Titchwell, we made a quick stop at Choseley drying barns. There was no sign of any Turtle Doves, but Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and Bullfinch were all seen, along with  a couple of Red-legged Partridge running along the road in front of us.

Given the weather, we decided to drop in at Swanton Novers on the way home. 
It turned out to be really quiet, with only the odd Common Buzzard seen while we were there.