Saturday 27 December 2014

A morning with Shorelarks at Covehithe

Christmas eve and an early morning visit to Covehithe in Suffolk hoping to find the Shorelarks still present.
Arriving at first light we took the footpath to the beach, noting a pair of Goldeneye on the pools.
A short walk along the beach and the three Shorelarks were quickly found feeding along the water's edge.

Light conditions were poor, but there were signs that the sunshine wasn't far away. Eventually the stiff winds pushed the clouds away and some sunshine shone through.

On the walk back to the car, another scan of the pools produced a newly arrived and smart looking redhead Smew.

From here we headed for North Warren in search of Bean Geese.
A quick scan of the surrounding fields produced a nice flock of Barnacle Geese, then another scan further along the road got us onto a group of 15 Bean Geese.
Good scope views were had, and two ticks added to the year list.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

North Norfolk Birding

We started the day at Wolferton hoping to pick up a sighting of Golden Pheasant, but during the time spent here, only Muntjac Deer ventured out towards the roadside.
A stop at Titchwell was next on the day's visit. The car park was alive with feeding Chaffinch, but there were no Bramblings among them today.
A confiding Robin came to feed from Brian's hand, as it did on one of last year's visits.
While myself and dad headed for Parrinder Hide in search of a needed year tick in the form of Water Pipit, Brian headed for the beach with his camera.
It was disappointing to see the water levels much higher here than we had expected, with many on the islands submerged in water.
Fresh Marsh was pretty quiet, birds noted from here were Teal, Wigeon, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Snipe and Avocet. We failed to pick out any Water Pipits from here.
The Brackish Marsh was a similar story, Very quiet with only Redshank and Grey Plover of any note.
Brian returned from the beach, where he had enjoyed views of Grey Plover, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Sanderlings, Knot and brief views of three Twite.

A stop off at Lady Anne's Drive gave close up views of Pink-footed and Brent Geese along with three Grey partridge that were feeding close to the fence.

Grey Partridge

Pink-footed Goose

We had just enough time  left to head over to Cantley Marshes, where we found plenty of geese present, but in the fast fading light failed to positively pick out any Bean Geese.
Even without picking out the Bean geese the spectacle of the huge corvid flocks coming in to roost was well worth the visit on it's own.

Great Grey Shrike, Chilham Kent

It took a while, but today we decided the time was right to take a look at the Great Grey Shrike that had been present at Chilham in Kent for a few weeks.
Before heading for Chilham we headed for Elmley and just after the gates were opened at 8am took a drive along the entrance track ending at the car park.
Curlew numbers were impressive with a flock of over 300 feeding to the left of the track. Among the flock were several Ruff.
Lapwings were again present in large numbers, which were more evident when two hunting Buzzards appeared low and put the flock up.
Four Marsh Harriers were seen hunting together and Kestrel, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were seen along the track. A small raptor sitting on a roadside post, turned out to be another Kestrel instead of the hoped for Merlin we had been searching for.
A Pheasant sitting out in the sun gave a good photo opportunity to good to miss.

Approaching the end of the entrance track on the return journey a Stonechat perched up near the track side for a photo.

From Elmley it was another twenty miles across Kent to Chilham. After parking up in  the lay by off Branch Road the Shrike was quickly located perched up in the field on the opposite side of the road to the car.
It set about hunting prey along the edges of the small stream, and would fly back and forth using each tree along the stream.
The overhead cables were also often used, and from time to time it would fly across the road at the far end only to reappear a short time later.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Surf Scoter at Holkham and two Desert Wheatears

Nice early start this morning, with a certain Surf Scoter at Holkham the target bird.
Arriving in Norfolk around 8am we parked up at the bottom of Lady Anne's Drive and took the boardwalk path out onto the beach heading for the bay.
The water's edge is quite distant, making the birds even more challenging to scan. The first flock of Scoter found held all Common Scoter, but a Red-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver were both present close by.
Another flock of Scoter found but again only Common Scoter seen.
A walk down to the West end of the bay, produced another flock of Scoter, and among this flock was the target bird. A stunning male Surf Scoter, the obvious white nape patch standing out among the flock of mainly female Common Scoter.
Among the flock were a couple of male Common Scoter and also 2-3 Velvet Scoter mixed in for good measure. 
After getting the only other two birders present at this time onto the bird and putting the news out, it was time for us to return to the car park.
A brief search around the crosswalk for a reported Pallas's Warbler failed to find the bird. 

Burnham Overy was the next target area, and after a short scan of the area a cracking Rough-legged Buzzard came into view.
Brian had two birds in the air together before one drifted away, we watched the remaining bird hunting over the dunes for around 30 minutes before it landed briefly in a nearby field and then after another short period of hunting drifted off.

Our third stop was to a place I had never visited before, Gorleston-on-sea.
Where after parking up at the suggested area of Pier Gardens, we found very strong winds blowing straight across the beach.
Sand and optics are not something you want to mix, but after quickly locating the Desert Wheatear we found the bird showing down to a few metres.
It had moved further along the beach from the reported area, and had found a drainage pipe to take shelter in.

Desert Wheatear at Gorleston-on-sea

The strong winds and biting sand storm didn't stop it from scanning the surrounding area and run out to snatch it's prey from the sand whenever anything was spotted. The bird took no notice of the small group of birders and would approach to within a few feet at times. 
After an hour or so the sand storms became to much and we retreated to the car.

There had been reports of another Desert Wheatear present at Lowestoft, this time a male, and it seemed rude not to pay it a visit on the way home.
The last time we pulled into Links Road car park we watched a smart Iceland Gull feeding among the car's in the car park, this time we found an even more confiding Desert Wheatear present.
The news services were requesting birders "view from sensible distance" normally something must birders don't need telling.
We found the bird straight away and there were only three other birders present. We walked past them some twenty metres and within a couple of minutes the bird had flown along the seawall and landed no more than two feet from me.

Desert Wheatear at Lowestoft

Brian had to back away to get the bird in the frame of his camera, it was that close!

A cracking day's birding, Surf Scoter made it on to the list at last and two Desert Wheatear's seen on the same day!

Sunday 19 October 2014

Cattle Egret & Long-eared Owl in Kent

We started the morning with a spot of seawatching on the beach by the fishing boats at Dungeness.
Strong winds and heavy rain showers greeted our arrival at the boats, but the rain soon faded into light showers.
A two-hour session produced a single distant Bonxie following a ship, Large numbers of Gannets, several Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns as well as Great Crested Grebes, Common Scoter and Turnstones.
Two Swallows were seen flying out to sea and later a further group of 10 Swallows were also watched. Good numbers of Turnstones were seen picking at fish scraps left by the fishermen.
An Arctic Skua was seen flying fast and low across the water and then a second bird was watched as it headed straight towards us and gave great close up views as it harassed the local gulls close to the water's edge.
From here we made our way towards the trapping area and managed to locate 4 Ring Ouzels but little else of note. Two Stonechats were seen on the power station fences as we approached the observatory.
After picking up a Great White Egret on the drive round to the reserve entrance, we parked up and started scanning the cattle fields close by.
After several minutes of scanning the Cattle Egret made a brief flight, and after a quick wade through high reeds, took flight and landed on the back of a nearby cow.

Cattle Egret

The Egret was constantly harassed by the local Magpies, but it seemed to be giving as good as it got.
After another brief flight to an adjoining field, it returned and landed on the head of another cow.

On the way home we stopped at Elmley Marshes, and after scanning through the orchard trees, eventually located one of the Long-eared owls that have been present for a few days again this year.
The bird remained well hidden among the foliage and there was no chance of any decent shots with the camera.

Long-eared Owl

On the drive back down the track a single Wheatear was seen on the road ahead of us, and in the fields either side of the track were Skylark, Lapwing, Curlew, and Marsh harrier.

Monday 13 October 2014

Steppe Grey Shrike Burnham Norton & Little Crake Minsmere

Having always favoured early mornings to any other time of the day, it's good to be up and on the road well before first light again this morning.
Early Sunday morning and with much less traffic on the roads, we make good time and are pulling into the car park at Burnham Norton around 7am.
The mist and fog was quite dense on route, but as we near the site it quickly begins to disperse and has disappeared altogether as we make our way along the track hoping to connect with the Shrike.
We wasn't to be disappointed, as the Shrike was seen perched up on the fence line before reaching the small group of birders already present.

Steppe Grey Shrike

The bird had a regular routine while we were on site, it would fly to a single small tree further along the small narrow channel and from there would fly along the channel to land on the fence or fence posts close to where we were standing giving superb views. Someone had been supplying the bird with mealworms and it would drop onto the ground to collect one before returning to the fence or brambles close by.
Eventually we reluctantly made our way back to the car and pointed it in the direction of Lowestoft. Arriving at Ness Point, the car park behind the Birds Eye factory was quickly found and after driving further along the track we arrived at the favoured area near an orange windsock. Almost immediately the Red-backed Shrike was spotted sitting among the vegetation close to the fence line.

Red-backed Shrike

Hearing of two Yellow-browed Warblers present at nearby Gunton saw us make the short trip, but after several searches all we managed were a couple of calls and no sightings.
We did manage to locate the Treecreeper that the locals had reported as a possible Northern Treecreeper but for the time being it remains just that.

Time was moving on and with daylight hours running out, it was time to head for Minsmere and give the Little Crake a go.
The bird was reported as still present but it wasn't reported all morning and had only been reported once before we arrived. So as we headed along the path towards Bittern Hide I was thinking this is going to be a fair wait and maybe a  no show in the time we had left.
As we entered the hide the bird appeared from the right hand reeds and I managed a very brief view before it disappeared back in among the reeds.
It wasn't long before it reappeared and this time gave much more prolonged views as it picked at the surface of the water. 

Little Crake (B Anderson)

One guy from the midlands had been in the hide from early morning to get these views, we just turned up and got the same views within a minute of entering the hide.
Right place, right time if only it happened like that every time. 

Sunday 28 September 2014

Dungeness and a surprise Nightjar at Middlesex Filter Beds

Arriving at Dungeness this morning, we decided to head for the beach and a short seawatch.
The sea was very calm and with hardly any wind there was not much movement to speak of.
Small groups of Guillemots, Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns were seen along with a single Kittiwake roosting on the beach.
A single seal appeared close to the buoy and provided the only other moment of interest before we moved on towards the observatory.
The bushes between the road and the observatory held good numbers of Chiffchaff and Blackcap along with a couple of Black Redstarts and a single Common Whitethroat.


A Sparrowhawk and Kestrel drifted across, but more of a surprise was the appearance of a Raven overhead.
More Black Redstarts were seen on and around the fences of the houses leading to the observatory, with several Meadow Pipits being caught in the traps.
Very little else of interest was seen on the walk around the moat, so we left and drove the track leading to the reserve.
The bushes held good numbers of Stonechat with smaller numbers of Whinchat and two Lesser Whitethroat.
A Marsh harrier drifted across the water in front of us and several Bearded Tits could be held "pinging". Double figures of Snipe flew overhead along with Curlew.


Having planned to return home for around one, this changed when news of a Nightjar found at the Middlesex Filter Beds was reported.
Parking in the Nature Reserve car park at the Essex Filter Beds site, we headed off along the river crossing the red bridge as we went. Entering the Middlesex Filter Beds section we found a small group of birders and were quickly put onto the bird.
Having taken the scope, it came in very useful not only to get cracking views of the bird, but to give many interested locals a view as they walked, jogged and cycled through the park.


Friday 19 September 2014

Barred Warbler, Gunners Park

Barred Warbler at Gunners Park in Essex. 
This produced mixed thoughts, having spent over three hours last weekend staring at bramble bushes in the vain hope of catching a glimpse of one at Thorpeness in Suffolk.
We left Thorpeness with no sightings and only a couple of Whitethroat, Dunnock and Robins to show for the three hour vigil.
So today I wasn't that keen to make the trip, eventually a second report  persuaded myself and dad to hit the road and head for Gunners park.
Three miles away from the park and the pager bleeped into action to report that the Barred Warbler was "showing well" from the concrete pad in the Northeast corner.
After the satnav got confused about a new road layout we managed to locate the car park and quickly made our way along the footpath and headed towards the concrete pad.
Two birders were present when we arrived, but the bird had seemingly gone to ground just before we arrived.
Twenty minutes later and a likely looking bird flew across and dived down behind the hawthorn bushes we had been staring at.
Dad took a walk round to the footpath that ran behind these bushes and located the bird shortly afterwards. I joined him and a short time later managed to spot the bird in an apple tree that was right next to the Hawthorn.
Views were mostly brief and fleeting, but it seemed to follow a simple pattern. Dive into the middle of the Apple tree, flit back left and into the Hawthorn, grab a Hawthorn Berry and move back into the safety of the Apple tree.
After watching the bird do this 4-5 times I managed to pick the bird out in the Apple tree and got prolonged views as it sat there eating the fruit.
The presence of a Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler didn't help picking up the Barred, but both of these birds would fly from here across the short grass into neighbouring scrub, whereas the barred seemed to stay either in the Apple tree or the Hawthorn.
A trip I wasn't that keen on when we set off, proved well worth the journey.

The map above shows the Car Park and the favoured feeding area while we were there today.
You can view one side of the Hawthorn, Brambles and Apple tree from either the concrete pad or the other side from the footpath.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Pectoral Sandpiper at Minsmere

Deciding to head for Suffolk again this morning, hoping to grab some views of the Barred warbler at Thorpeness.
Arriving on site around 7.30 we found two other birders present, one seawatching and the other looking for the warbler. Both had been present from first light.
There had been no sign of the bird so far this morning , after searching for over two hours and with plenty of birders joining us in the search we had still had no luck.
We decided to head off to Minsmere and hope for better luck locating the Pec Sandpiper.
After reaching the five bar gate it was another 3/4 mile walk to the pool. The bird was found instantly feeding among the short vegetation. A very smart looking juvenile bird.

Pectoral Sandpiper

On the walk back we met plenty of birders who had been at Thorpeness searching for the warbler, none had any luck locating it, Nearing the car park the pager reports that the Barred Warbler is showing again!
We decide to give it another try. But again we drew a blank, with only the occasional Dunnock, Whitethroat, Robin and Blue Tit seen feeding among the favoured areas.

Monday 8 September 2014

Landguard trip, plus Lesser Grey Shrike, Hollesley Suffolk

This morning we decided to head for Suffolk rather than Kent, and the morning started with a leisurely stroll around Landguard NR.
Weather conditions on route were changeable with a brief rain shower followed by mist and after reaching the car park it had turned cloudy and overcast. 
As soon as the Search of the bushes began a smart-looking Whinchat was found perched up. The first circuit of the common produced large flocks of Linnets with good numbers of Willow Warblers, Goldfinch, and Pied Wagtails along with Smaller numbers of Blackcap, Whitethroat, and several immaculate looking Lesser Whitethroats. Wheatears were also seen in good numbers.


I managed to miss a Wryneck feeding on the grassy bank of the compound, and a second one was missed when I arrived just after a couple that was totally oblivious to the gathered crowd just strolled straight through the area the Wryneck was feeding in.
After reaching the point and scanning the rocks at the water's edge we managed to locate a single Purple Sandpiper. It was roosting when we found it, but the incoming tide spraying the rock it was on soon persuaded it to find a safer spot. Three Red-breasted Merganser were seen loafing on the water before we headed back for another search for a Wryneck.

Purple Sandpiper

Finally managed to get some good if brief views of a Wryneck. It landed on the ground between two bushes and then perched up on some teasel before disappearing into thicker cover.
It then appeared briefly on our side of the bushes, but all too soon it was back in thick cover.

With time short we decided to abandon any thoughts of searching for a Barred Warbler reported at Thorpeness and instead headed for Hollesley hoping to get a view of the Lesser Grey Shrike.
Taking the grassy path out toward the beach we could see a small group of birders/photographers away in the distance on the beach.
As we sat down next to them the bird reappeared and gave some stunning views through the scope.
It would perch up on top of nearby bushes and launch attacks on anything it fancied for a meal. The success rate was very impressive.

Lesser Grey Shrike

Saturday 30 August 2014

Melodious Warbler, Dungeness

An unexpected trip to Dungeness today. 
Leaving home at 5.30am, it was shortly before 7 that we arrived at Dungeness and were parked and heading towards the viewing screen overlooking Arc pit.
The Red-necked Phalarope was found almost immediately upon arrival, busily feeding among the small strips of vegetation.
Thousands of Hirundines were present over the pits and several Garganey were also on view along with Marsh harrier, Dunlin, Redshank, Ruff, Lapwing and Snipe.

From here it was a short drive round to Denge Marsh Road, parking the car opposite the gully where a Melodious Warbler was present the previous day, Luckily it had stuck overnight and we were watching it flit about among the Elderberry's almost as soon as leaving the car.

Melodious Warbler
 It showed exceptionally well at times.

While here we managed a few brief views of a much more frustrating Wryneck, which was keeping itself well tucked in among the thick vegetation.
We tried Galloways Road which runs parallel to Denge Marsh Road, and connected with several Wheatear, Whinchat, Stonechats, Common Whitethroat.
After parking the car we were told of the presence of another Wryneck, and after a short search the bird was found perched in a bare Elderberry, giving superb scope views.

A return visit to the viewing screen at Arc Pit, finally managed to produce good views of a single juvenile Little Stint, which we had failed to connect with on the first visit.
Before leaving for home, we also watched a pair of Raven, a huge flock of Starlings and single Buzzard, and Sparrowhawk.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Bee-eaters at Niton, Isle of Wight

European Bee-eaters breeding on the Isle of Wight!!

Having watched the developing news over the previous weeks with more than a little interest, it was becoming frustrating not to be able to find the time to pay them a visit.
When news broke recently that three youngsters had fledged, we decided it was now or never.
4.30am this morning we left Essex and made our way to Lymington to catch the ferry across to Yarmouth.
We caught the first ferry across and after another 17 miles we were parking the car in the temporary car park by 8am, met by two of the volunteers.

A horse box was being used as a make shift centre, and apart from these two volunteers, there were only three other people present. 
A quick chat and we were told of the most popular feeding areas of the Bee-eaters, but that the chances were not good given the weather conditions.
But within a very short time of setting up the scope, I was watching my first ever Bee-eater as it flew in and landed at the top of a bare Elm tree.
This was to be the pattern for the entire time we were there. They would fly in, perch up on the tree and after varying times fly off only to then return to the same tree with their catch.
We were lucky enough to see three birds perched in the tree at the same time
With the weather overcast and a few short showers added in, the birds remained distant and well out of range of the camera. One bird did fly overhead calling while we were there.
The main tree being used proved to be very popular, with two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, and a possible Spotted Flycatcher all using this tree during our visit.
The volunteers went on to inform us that there were four adult birds and that there was still one bird in the nest that had not yet fledged.
With the birds having made the nest on the ground within an old rabbit burrow, the area was protected with an electric fence to keep out the foxes, and volunteers watching the site 24/7 in case of egg thieves.
A job well done.

Monday 4 August 2014

Spotted Crake, Titchwell

Having been split between Norfolk and the Isle of Wight the previous evening, we decided to head for Norfolk after checking the weather forecasts.
Arriving at Titchwell shortly before 7am, we made our way towards Island Hide, and located the crake almost immediately.
It was busily feeding among the reeds to the right of Island Hide, it would appear briefly then head back in among the reeds, only to appear again shortly afterwards.

Spotted Crake

We watched as the Crake took exception to the presence of a juvenile Water Rail, and it quickly saw it off. The appearance of the juvenile rail seemed to trick a few people in the hide to thinking there were two Spotted Crake's present.
The freshwater marsh held good numbers of birds, including a very nice Wood Sandpiper feeding close in. Also present were five Spoonbills, 3 Spotted Redshanks, Dunlin, Turnstone, LPR, large number of Avocets and Ruff along with gathering numbers of hirudines, Sand Martins seemed to be present in the greatest numbers but House Martins, Swifts and Swallows were also busily feeding across the marsh.
A short sea watch produced several Gannets, Dunlin and a flock of 15 Eider close in.
The return walk produced good views of a Chinese water Deer.

Chinese Water Deer

At Cley I failed to connect with the reported Temminck's Stint on North Scrape, but did manage to add another couple of year ticks with a single Curlew Sandpiper and 3 well overdue Green Sandpiper's.
Several more scans after the flocks got spooked and took to the air failed to locate the Temminck's but a summer plummaged Knot and a small flock of Dunlin were found.

Curlew Sandpiper

Saturday 19 July 2014

Bonaparte's Gull, Oare Marshes

A Bonaparte's Gull first reported on the 17th at Oare Marshes in Kent was still present this morning, so we took the opportunity to make the trip.
Heading down Harty Ferry Road, we spotted a familiar face and luckily enough he was already looking at the Bonaparte's Gull.
The gull was present on the East Flood, and although it kept towards the back third of the flood it gave great views through the scope.
With weather clouding over and the first spots of rain falling we headed for the hide. The rain shower didn't last long, but when the gull appeared from behind the island it gave closer views than from Harty Ferry Road.

Bonaparte's Gull

Wood Sandpipers had been present in recent days, with up to 9 birds present on the 12th. But scanning the flood didn't produce any today, but at least 7 Common Sandpipers were found.
A single Dunlin, several Ruff and Turnstone were also present and two Med Gulls dropped in onto the small mud strips.
As the tide levels changed and the Black-tailed Godwits left the estuary to relocate onto the flood, the Bonaparte's decided that was it's queue to depart. It was later found back feeding on the estuary.

A walk to the West Flood to look for Wood or Green Sandpipers was cut short when we found the hide overlooking the flood was closed and sealed off due to Flood damage.
The walk did produce nice views of Bearded Tits among the ditch side reeds.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Mega!!! Great Knot Breydon Water and Collared Pratincole at Minsmere

A Great Knot in Norfolk and a Collared Pratincole in Suffolk, both would be lifer's, so when Brian phoned shortly before midday it didn't take much convincing to join him.
The Collared Pratincole had been reported at Minsmere, so with this being on route we pulled into Minsmere car park and headed off along the main path towards the beach.
We had been told that the bird was not showing from the hide, and that viewing from the beach would give us a better chance.
Joining the small group of birders already present, we were told the general area the bird had dropped into. After a while and with no sign of the bird, we decided to try our luck from East Hide.The hide was packed, but we managed to grab a spot upstairs and with a few directions from birders the target was found.

Collared Pratincole (to the right of the single Avocet)

Not the greatest of views at first, but eventually it decided to make a few brief flights, giving us the chance to note some of the key features.
With a lifer safely in the bag, I could relax and scan the the rest of the scrape for anything of interest.
A group of  Little Gulls were seen along with Several Spotted Redshanks and a smart Med Gull dropped in while we were watching the Pratincole.

We headed further North, in the hope that the Great Knot would be showing at Breydon Water.
Pulling into the Rugby Club car park, I had visions of a long walk out to where the bird would hopefully be. But it turned out to be surprisingly shorter than I had expected, and in no time at all we had joined the group of birders scanning the distant birds.
The light wasn't great, but after some directions I managed to get on the small group of Knot and with time and plenty of scanning of the flock managed to locate the bird.
The bird was quite distant and with the light and heat haze not helping all I was picking up on was what looked like a longer bill and longer body to the other Knots around it. The feeding habits seemed more purposeful and more thoughtful than the other birds around it. whether this is the case or not I don't know but that was the impression I got.
As the light changed and the bird moved around feeding it gave much better views, although still quite distant.

The reported "probable Collared Pratincole that had dropped in at Cley, had now been re-identified as a Black-Winged, we thought about heading off towards Cley, but while on route news came through on the pager that the bird had flown high South.
So we decided to start the 120 mile drive for home.

Sunday 13 July 2014

White-winged Black Tern, Abberton

Finally the year list ticked over again today, with a brief visit to Abberton.

A scan from the new causeway produced the goods, as the tern was quickly located hunting across the water before resting up on the vegetation at the end of the spit, allowing good if some what distant scopes views.
An added bonus was the presence of a Black Tern, along with a hawking Hobby that put the local Starlings into panic.
Five Common Sandpipers dropped in along with a couple of Little Ringed Plovers along the water's edge, and Yellow and Grey Wagtails were also noted.

Maybe this will be the prelude to a few good birds turning up in the coming weeks.
Here's hoping.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Nightjar and Woodcock in the Brecks

Arriving at the Breckland site around 9pm the first bird seen and heard was a displaying Woodlark. 
As the sun dropped behind the trees the first Woodcock was picked up flying across the trees tops.
Shortly afterwards the resident Tawny Owls started to call. 
In the time we spent on site views of ten Woodcocks were had, some may have been the same birds, two Woodcocks came bursting out of the forest trees chasing each other, only to separate and head off in different directions.
Close views were had of one individual as it flew below the tree line right in front of us, calling as it went.
Several large Bats were watched as they hunted around the trees, then Shortly after 10.15pm the first Nightjar was heard churring.
Within the next forty five minutes the calling became more vocal, and just as we were heading back along the track towards the car a Nightjar appeared above our heads.
Unfortunately there was no wing clapping display tonight, but it was still a great sight to be able to watch it so close, surrounded only by the sounds of the forest.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Mega!! Short-toed Eagle Wych Cross, East Sussex

When this bird was reported perched up in a pine tree at 9:15pm on the 31st May, The thought was I either go early next morning and get there first light, or you won't see this bird.
Circumstances prevented the trip and with it went thoughts of adding this bird to my life list.

But today while sitting at home watching the cricket, the phone goes and Brian asks "do you fancy going for the Short-toed"? So within minutes I'm in the car and meeting Brian. 
As luck would have it the bird has even moved closer to home, instead of 144 miles away in Dorset, it's only 60 miles away in East Sussex.
Approaching the site the car is running on fumes, and we have to divert a few miles away from the site to finally find some diesel.
Now 9 miles away and with no news arriving on the pager for the last half hour we make our way to the last reported location.
Pulling into the car park at Gill's Gap, we find a few familiar faces scanning the surrounding valley. A remote dot away in the distance could be the target bird, but it's so far away it's impossible to tell for sure.
Mick Davis a local birder decides to head for the reserve car park further down the road, unfortunately we lose him and can't find the car park.
Reports on the pager say "immature again from Liptons and Townsend car parks". Eventually finding Liptons car park and pulling in we find a group of birders but none on the Eagle.
A phone call from a local birder See's us heading off in convoy looking for Long car park, luckily for us the locals know exactly where this car park is.

We park up and head off down the track to where a group of fifty plus birders are already assembled. We are greeted with "It was circling over our heads 5 minutes ago, but it's drifted off now". Then a shout goes up "Got it!, It's perched at the top of the tree". After a short panic to get a location of where it was perched, the scope is trained on the spot and the Eagle comes into view.

Short-toed Eagle

It's perched up on the top of a pine tree right out in the open, giving stunning scope views. After 15-20 minutes of watching the bird, it flies up and drifts off over the surrounding area.
It remains in view for a short time and then drops down behind the nearest tree line and gone from view.

We decide to head off further down the track and scan the valley and surrounding area, a couple of Hobbies appear over the distant tree line, then a Common Buzzard appears.

Another scan and the shout goes up EAGLE!, and above the tree line is the Short-toed drifting towards us. It starts to circle directly overhead giving stunning views before gaining height, another Buzzard appears and starts to briefly mob the eagle. As the scope is trained on the two birds, it becomes view that we are actually looking at an Eagle and a Honey Buzzard!

Two fantastic birds only 60 miles from home, it doesn't get much better than that?