Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 28 Nov

My usual Sunday morning visit whilst Ellie was at church turned out to be pretty productive if cold, with the temperature not getting above -2 degrees centigrade! I parked up on the northern causeway and scanned the reservoir, there were a good number of ducks off the dam, with over sixty Wigeon and twenty or so Teal. Also present, four Pochard and seven Tufted Duck. Feeding on the water's edge was a Little Egret, an unexpected find at this time of year. The railway embankment held a few Redwings and Fieldfares feeding on the assorted berries.
Whilst the main reservoir was full of birds, West Pool held nothing of note, so I decided to explore the southern end of the reservoir to see if there was anything happening on the bird front there. Getting out of the car the first thing I noticed were a pair of Bullfinches. I then took a walk along the reservoir's edge to the trees and river at the extreme south. Walking along I put up two Snipe from the water's edge and then a real surprise, a Woodcock! This was my first ever Woodcock at Sutton Bingham and my 160th species at the site. Despite searching I could not locate the bird as it flew through the trees. Returning to the car I scanned the pylons, finding an adult Peregrine and another flock of about twenty Teal were present. A quick walk out past the hide produced two Lapwings flying over heading north.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Wed 24 Nov

A pleasant if somewhat chilly afternoon, and not being in the mood for a long drive I popped up to the reservoir for an hour or so before dark. I took a long walk around the southern end of the reservoir where there were a few birds around. The wintering wildfowl were rather skittish and flocks of at least thirty Teal and sixty Wigeon were wheeling around above the reservoir and occasionally settling on the water. A single female Tufted Duck was also present.
A total of twelve Snipe were flushed from the water's edge and overhead a few Siskins passed by. On the pylons there were two adult Peregrines, one of which spent ten minutes or so dive-bombing a Buzzard which had caught prey.

Winter thrushes were a but thinner on the ground today, with just a couple of Redwings and Fieldfares seen. A Water Rail was heard calling but refused to show itself and as I returned to the car a pair of Bullfinches flew over.
A quick stop to check the gathering gulls and West Pool failed to produce anything of interest other than a single Little Grebe. Some of the Wigeon flock had relocated to West Pool to roost and on the reservoir proper there was a flock of twenty or so Canada Geese roosting.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 21 Nov

My usual Sunday morning visit whilst Ellie was at church was somewhat productive. Starting on the northern causeway I noticed a mixed flock of twenty or so Fieldfares and Redwings fly over and land in trees near the Sailing Club. On West Pool the only things of note were two Little Grebes.
I then headedon to the southern end of the reservoir and took a walk about. I inadvertantly flushed seven Snipe from the waterside vegetation and duck numbers were not too bad with at least fifty Wigeon and twenty Teal present.
Over heads further flocks of Fieldfares passed by with at least one hundred birds moving. There was a flock of forty or so Starlings near the southern causeway feeding on sloes, and a single Goldcrest was also seen in that area.
Before I knew it my hour was up and it was time to head back home.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Hollingworth Lake - Sat 20 Nov

On the road at 6.00am with a car full of my birding mates, John, Andy and Barry, and leaving Ellie tucked up in bed, I headed off north to Manchester in the hope of catching up with the Pied-billed Grebe that had been present for a week or so. I had dipped this species in the earlu nineties and was hoping to get it marked off, and after a drive of just less than four hours we parked up in a pay and display car park on the edge of the lake. As we got out of the car a Grey Wagtail flew over.
We had a twenty minute walk to the far side of the lake, seeing nothing of note along the way, and after meeting a few birders en route got directions as to where the bird was. Setting up our scopes it took us a bit of time to get on the bird as it skulked in the reeds, but before long it flew out on to open water and we got cracking views of this Nearctic vagrant.
Unfortunately, it flew out of the bay we were looking at and out of site, so leaving the others behind I hot-footed round the corner, and after relocating the bird within about two minutes it had flown back to where the others were still stood! So I retraced my steps and finally managed a few really poor record shots of the Pied-billed Grebe.

After watching the bird for half an hour or so we completed the circuit of the lake back to the car, seeing a Mistle Thrush and a couple of Redwings in the waterside trees, and a single Tufted Duck on the water. It was about 11.30am by the time we got back to the car, and with the twitch being a success we headed straight back home, and to round off a perfect day, Spurs notched up their first win away at Arsenal for seventeen years!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sutton Bingham - Sun 14 Nov

A curtailed visit to Sutton Bingham this morning due to the onset of steady rain from about 10.40am, just five minutes after I had arrived on site. Hasten to say, I only stayed about ten minutes, during which time the only birds of note were a couple of Fieldfares.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Exminster Marshes RSPB - Sat 13 Nov

A busy morning at work, a headache, and an hour later leaving home that I had hoped, followed by being zapped by a cop with a speed gun doing 50 on the A30 in a 40 zone had set the afternoon up nicely for dipping the American Robin at Exminster Marshes...and dip it we did!
On the plus side, we did have a nice walk for an hour or so, but not only did we miss the American Robin, we also missed a Glossy Ibis and a Red-breasted Goose! In fact I can't really think of anything out of the ordinary that Ellie and I saw during the afternoon. A single Black-tailed Godwit flew over, and there were hundreds of Starlings gathering to roost. But we missed all the decent stuff and by the time we got back to the car it was dark. Bit of a wasted afternoon but at least Spurs won!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Boshill Cross - Wed 10 Nov

A lovely bright afternoon, so I took advantage of my half day and drove down to Boshill Cross, about four or so miles south of Axminster. I pulled off the road at Axminster Football Club and looked over the flooded field opposite and connected with my target bird straightaway, a Long-billed Dowitcher. The bird was showing really well and afforded excellent views.
Also present, at least twenty Dunlin and several Curlew and Lapwings. There were also a small number of Teal on the small pool.
Before I had a chance to decide what to do next I had a phone call from work, so unfortunately I had to give up on the idea of any more birding and zoom home to troubleshoot an IT problem...wasn't this meant to be my half day?

Monday, 8 November 2010

Minsmere RSPB - Sat 6 Nov

Arriving a little after midday we met up with our friends, Lucy and Trevor and after a quick bite to eat in the cafe took a walk around the reserve. As we walked out along the beach we stumbled across half a dozen or so birders photographing a very obliging Snow Bunting, so Trevor and Lucy had experienced their first twitch and despite trying not to show it, I think there were both rather excited!

As we continued round the reserve I pointed out a few things to our non-birding companions, and also found a Caspian Gull on one of the scrapes. Ellie's hunt for the perfect view of a Bearded Tit continued, but again we only had brief flight views.
From the Bittern Hide we did see a ringtail Hen Harrier hunting over the reed beds, but as it was getting on a bit we returned to the visitor centre for a much needed cup of tea and slice of cake. Whilst enjoying our snack we watched a couple of Bramblings feeding on the feeders outside of the centre. As it was now dark we left Minsmere after an enjoyable afternoon, and as we were staying with Lucy and Trevor in Manningtree that night, the end of our trip to East Anglia and we managed to see a total of 99 different species, which was not bad for a non-birding trip!
UK List for 2010 now at 229 species.

Dunwich & Dingle Marshes - Sat 6 Nov

After another cracking breakfast we drove the short distance to Dingle Marshes just to the north of Dunwich for a stroll. It was pretty much so that Ellie was not enjoying herself and decided to wait in the car whilst I took a quick walk to try and find the small flock of Shore Larks that had been present for a few weeks. Once again, luck was not on my side as there was no sign of the birds. I did see a few Skylarks, but that was really about it.
So we drove up to Dunwich Cliffs and finally saw something of note, the King Eider was showing well, if a little distantly, on the sea. This was another bird that Ellie had hoped to see, so she hopped out of the car to have a look at a black-and-white blob bobbing on the water! Whilst looking at the King Eider, a Pomarine Skua passed through.
We were meeting friends at Minsmere RSPB at midday, so as we still had plenty of time we returned to the beach car park and whilst Ellie kept an eye on the reedbeds for Bearded Tits from the warmth of the car, I tried again for Shore Lark. Ellie had more luck than I, as despite walking over a mile up the coast, I didn't see a single Shore Lark. I was lucky enough to find not one, but two Lapland Buntings, and a single Twite. So after missing another of my target species I trudged back to the car and we drove on to Minsmere RSPB.

Cley Marshes NWT & The Broads - Fri 5 Nov

After an excellent and extremely filling breakfast we checked out of Machrimore and travelled east along the coast to Cley Next the Sea and a visit to Cley Marshes NWT. After paying the £4 entrance fee we walked out to the hides in the middle of the reserve and Ellie got a view, albeit somewhat fleeting, of her first Bearded Tit. From the hide I had hoped to see the long-staying American Golden Plover and Green-winged Teal, but neither could be found much to my frustration...luckily they were only year ticks! We did see a few bits and pieces, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits were quite numerous and as we returned to the car a Water Pipit flew over. We then got a bit lazy and drove down to the East Bank car park and took a walk out towards the sea in the hope that Ellie could get some better views of Bearded Tits, but despite hearing several we could not actually locate one!
So we headed off again, and after an unsuccessful attempt at trying to see some Waxwings at Weybourne we set off south and drove round to Horsey Mill in the hope of seeing some Common Cranes. This turned out to be a complete waste of time as we saw nothing of note at all. So with time getting on, and tension rising in the car, we skipped Filby Broad and the Velvet Scoter and headed straight in to Great Yarmouth. Finally, our luck turned as we parked in the Lidl car park and were greeted by a flock of over one hundred Waxwings!

This was the other bird on Ellie's wish list, so she was thrilled to get up close to these charismatic creatures. This really picked up our moods and so we continued south feeling much happier about things.
We took at quick diversion to Covehithe where we parked up and had a cup of tea, after which I took a brief walk behind the church to find a Richard's Pipit, but I only succeeded in getting completely soaked as the heaven's opened! So we completed the final leg of the day's journey and arrived at The Roost, our bed and breakfast accommodation for the night in the village of Middleton.

Burnham Overy Staithe - Fri 5 Nov

Breakfast was a 8.30am, so I left Ellie in bed and drove down to Burnham Overy Staithe, arriving at about 7.15am, and narrowly missing four Grey Partridge as they sidled across the road in front of me. I set up my scope and started scanning across the fields just to the south of the dunes. Luck was with me, as within a couple of minutes I picked up the Rough-legged Buzzard as it drifted west before landing out of sight in a field. I turned my attention to the grazing geese and was surprised to find seven Barnacle Geese among the hundreds of Pink-footed Geese. A few Skylarks passed by overhead, and at least five Barn Owls were hunting around the area. Just as I was getting ready to pack up, I spotted a ring-tailed harrier hunting over the fields towards Holkham Pines. My first thoughts were that it was a rather well marked, chestnut-coloured Hen Harrier, but it has since been re-identified as the North American species, Northern Harrier! A real unexpected bonus. I walked back to the car along a hedge-lined path that was packed with Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Goldfinches, and drove back to Wells for a much needed breakfast.

Titchwell RSPB & Burnham Overy Staithe - Thu 4 Nov

Ellie and I had booked a couple of days of work and decided to head up to East Anglia as Ellie had never been to Norfolk or Suffolk. Leaving home at 8.00am it was just before 1.00pm when we arrived at Titchwell RSPB, and after a couple of bacon rolls (for myself) and a baked potato for Ellie we set off for a walk through the reserve and out on to the beach. There was still a lot of work going on with the new hide being built, and coupled with the strong winds it meant we saw few birds. Out to sea a single Red-throated Diver flew through, a Sanderling and a couple of Turnstones were on the beach, and returning to the visitor center we saw seven Twite on the salt marsh. We also managed to see three Marsh Harriers hunting over the reserve.
It was already starting to get dark as we left Titchwell and headed east, as we left the reserve we saw a flock of over two hundred Pink-footed Geese in a field, with four Egyptian Geese. Further down the road we came across a covey of at least a dozen Grey Partridges and a Barn Owl on the outskirts of Burnham Norton.
We stopped off just outside Burnham Overy Staithe to scan across the fields and dunes in the hope of finding the Rough-legged Buzzard that had been present for the past couple of weeks, but in failing light had no joy. However, I did pick up a Merlin. We then continued on to Wells-next-the-Sea and checked in to our Bed & Breakfast, a delightful place called Machrimore.
After checking in I left Ellie to have a shower whilst I zoomed up to Warham Greens to see if I could catch the harrier roost, but arriving at 4.45pm the light had almost gone and I saw nothing other than a couple of Hares. All in all a fairly unsuccessful day with regard to the birds, but at least we were not at work!