Thursday, 28 November 2013

Last Weekend

Haven’t been over the Reservoir recently (recurring theme). But last weekend Joy and I decided to have the Friday off work, travel to Norfolk and enjoy an overnight stay in Hunstanton. Up at 6am bit of breakfast a couple of coffee’s, Joy walked the dog and I loaded the car, during the process I had a Woodcock fly over the house, while a Tawny Owl was calling in the distance.

We were on the road for 7.30am – never again! It took us nearly three and a half hour to get there, instead of the usual two hours. We eventually arrived in the Country Park at Holt at just after 11am and were onto a group of four Parrot Crossbills immediately. We watched them for half an hour before they all departed further into the wood.

We then parked at Cley and did a circuit around the reserve. We walked along the east bank seeing a small party of Twite. There was a cold north-easterly wind blowing and sea watching was done in brief stints as we made our way west sheltered by the shingle bank. On the sea we had a Pom Skua, a few Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver. There were still a few Gannet passing off-shore but any sustained views resulted in brain freeze!

There were a good selection of birds on view most of which were expected, but just before we reached the coast road, I heard a commotion behind me, I turned to see a Long-eared Owl, which I assume had just come in off the sea being mobbed by a couple of Crows, it crossed the road and immediately dived into a thick hedge in the garden of the nearest house (Hillside). I put my scope up and scanned but it was well hidden.

After a bit of lunch we retuned to Holt but the Crossbills weren’t showing, so we dropped in at Holkham were there were thousands of Geese but again it was cold. Next, we dropped in at Stiffkey just as a squall hit, I managed to get a little shelter in the hut, but the wind direction ensured that I still got soaked. Anyway I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past nearly nabbing a Redshank in the process. As dusk approached I parked up on the approach road to Holme NNT reserve climbed the bank and scanned, seeing both Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl just before dark. We then when to the hotel we had booked for the night in Hunstanton which was good and excellent value – £70 b&b!

The next morning after breakfast which was difficult to concentrate on as hundreds of birds were flying past making there way in and out of The Wash we went straight to Titchwell. We had a good morning there with a couple of Water Rail, Red-necked Grebe, Water Pipit, Spotted Redshank, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and numerous other birds. I then drove along the coast to Sherringham where I eventually picked up Purple Sandpiper amongst a multitude of Turnstone. We then dropped in at Salthouse were we saw a few Red-throated Divers on the sea but little else.

We returned to Holt where we had much better views of the Parrot Crossbill as they fed in a Larch near the road. The light however was very poor and I struggled to get any photographs. At 2.30pm we decided that we would head home but not before we stopped to look through a flock of Swans near Whittlesea – 120 Whooper, 20 Mute and two Bewick Swan which brought an end to the weekends birding.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sunday 17th November

On Thursday I got a phone call from the Captain, the lucky bleeder is off to Botswana at five days notice (a friend cancelled). He came round to mine to borrow my spare camera battery, he was expecting me to be happy for him (sadly mistaken), my only solace was that he had that many injections at the Doctors his arm was like a second-hand Dart board!

I had been decorating and gardening now none stop for nearly a month. Shustoke has been as dead as a nit and I am getting fed up already at the dark nights – just five months to go!  Then on Friday news broke of a Orphean Warbler in South Wales about three miles from where the Captain and I had gone a month ago for an Issy Wheatear. I knew it was a long drive and to be honest didn’t fancy it much.

My darling wife – Joy took pity on me. On Saturday, after painting my second door and rushing to find time to watch the Rugby,  Joy say’s “lets go, I have never been there – and you said it was nice.” I don’t need asking twice! Anyway, first thing Sunday we are off. We get 20 miles down the motorway and its closed! Someone was threatening to jump of a Motorway bridge. I was fuming, he’d tried to jump off yesterday, don’t these people sleep! 24 hours!!!! They could have put a mattress under the lane he was above and left the other bloody lanes open!

Great Start!!!!!

We eventually got back on the M5 after a bloody long detour eventually arriving in Marloes/St Brides, Pembrokeshire at about 11.15 we found the birders car park easily. I was confident that the bird would still be present, it had been dull overnight and I never dip in Wales, it will happen one day, but not yet. Plus more importantly Captain Daylate wasn’t with me!

We walked about half a mile to the nice looking house which had a garden birders dream of. We only waited five minutes before the bird appeared. It performed for a while before disappearing only to reappear in the apple trees in front of us. I must say that I didn’t think the bird loooked that big, but is hard to be objective. I’m no expert but if I had to guess I thought it looked more like Eastern Orphean Warbler, it seemed greyer to me. I also could not pick up white in the outer tail feathers but it did appear on some of the photographs I have seen. It did have a stonking bill on it though.

After viewing the bird for an hour we headed off to Dale Airfield, I had met a local birder who gave me directions. We got there and made our way along the runway where a Snow Bunting was performing really well. From there we headed across a grassy area between the runways and put up around four Lapland Bunting. This was the first time in a few years that I have seen this species and I really enjoyed it, not only that I managed to photograph the bird.

So just after 3pm we headed home, fortunately the Motorway was open! He must have dropped-off!!!

Western Orphean Warbler? St Brides, Pembrokeshire

Snow Bunting, Dale Airport, Pembrokeshire

Lapland Bunting, Dale Airport, Pembrokeshire

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Monday 11th November

Took a break from decorating when the heavy rain of the morning stopped. The reservoir was very quiet and I walked around both pools plus the marshy field on the other side of the railway but it was very quiet. I did see my first big flock of Fieldfare of the winter with around 50 birds.

Wildfowl numbers were pathetic with only around a dozen Pochard of note. When I got back to the car park Steve Haynes was on site and he had seen little either. Whilst we were talking a wader was picked up flying along the reserve, it turned out to be a Dunlin – still the best bird in a while.

This morning while lying in bed sipping my coffee, the bird feeders outside the window held only the usual until I picked up two Treecreepers working their way up and down the Silver Birch’s.

I have been over recently but it hasn’t been worth posting. On a personal note I have added four year ticks in the last week. Last Saturday I saw Dusky Warbler at Marsh Lane and five Jack Snipe locally. Then last Sunday we walked the Malvern Ridge again and saw three Crossbills near the Malvern Hotel and on the way home we stopped off near Evesham to see the Glossy Ibis that was present.