Friday, 30 December 2011

Norfolk - Day 5 and 6

Sorry for not posting this sooner, but I am now back down south *sigh*, but what a great week it has been.

On day 5 we decided to go and photograph some Bearded Reedlings at a private location. We were fortunate enough to see (and photograph) a number of birds and some allowed a reasonably close approach. On the way to to the site we stopped to admire a large flock of geese in a field, which to my delight contained 2-3 Bean Geese (of which sub-species I have no idea). In the same day we were also lucky enough to see an over wintering Turtle Dove but more exciting perhaps was an adult Common Crane which showed very well considering the shy nature of the species. I also managed to photograph an extremely tame Curlew, allowing me to get my best shots of this species yet.

On day 6 I went back to the Bearded Reedlings and the Turtle Dove, before moving on to Sculthorpe Moor. By the time we arrived at Sculthorpe the light was already going but on arrival we had very poor views of a Golden Pheasant (we could only see small patches of gold in the thickets). We moved onto the hide where we saw a number of Marsh/Willow Tit candidates. I managed to photograph a number of these birds which are currently being identified by an expert, so I should know which of the two species they are soon :) From the furthest hide, we had fantastic views of a Water Rail that showed extremely well in the fast fading light. Unfortunately, no sign of any owls :( Back near the visitor centre, we decided to have a quick look at where we had previously seen the Golden Pheasant, and to our amazement the male was sat right in the open just a few feet from the boardwalk. We carefully approached the bird although he clearly was not alarmed at our presence and we were able to get with 5 foot of the bird. I managed to get a few shots despite the fact that by now it was nearly dark.

A great end to a fantastic trip :-)

Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant

Wild Crane

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

Water Rail


Male Bearded Reedling
Male Bearded Reedling

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Norfolk - Day 3 and 4

On Christmas day we returned to Wells Beach. There were 6-7 Seals along with the usual waders. The biggest surprise of the trip was the Drake Red-Breasted Merganser which flew into the estuary briefly.
In the evening we decided to watch the Pinkfeet coming in to Lady Anns Drive. We watched around 3000 geese come into roost but before they arrived we spotted a raptor. The bird wast very distant (around 400 metres away), but large. The bird was easily buzzard sized and after some shocking photographs were taken, it was eventually decided the bird was one of the two Rough Legged Buzzards currently overwintering in the area.

On Boxing day we headed to Titchwell RSPB. The reserve itself was quiet apart from the 3000 Golden Plover found from the Parrinder Hide. The beach contained much more life with 1 Female Scaup on the sea along with around 20 Goldeneye. Waders included 100+ Bar-Tailed Godwit, 20+ Sanderling, 10 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plover, 70 Oystercatchers and nearly 200 Redshank.

Bar-Tailed Godwit

Grey Plover

Golden Plover

Rough Legged Buzzard

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Norfolk - Day 2 ~24th December~

Went to Cley today in hope of seeing the Western Sandpiper which had been present for nearly 2 weeks. As soon as we entered the hide  (the name of which has escaped me!) we were told the sandpiper was on show next to a small group of Teal. I had my scope on the bird when it was immediately flushed by a Kestrel and that was it, I never saw the bird again!!! The birds on the lagoons were constantly being flushed by 2 Marsh Harriers which on one occasionally came reasonably close and allowed for a half decent record shot. Waders were the main attraction and Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Knot; just to name a few!!

After Cley, we went goose hunting. By this time the sun was beginning to set which meant the majority of the Pink Footed Geese were already heading to their roosts however we managed to find a small flock near Burnham. The majority of the geese were Greylag Geese but amongst them were 2 Pinkfeet and 1 White Fronted Goose. The birds were no more than 30 metres away allowing for some decent photographs, despite the appalling light!  Merry Christmas Everyone :-)

Golden Plover (and Lapwing)

Marsh Harrier

Pink Footed Goose

Western Sandpiper (Just!)

White Fronted Goose


Friday, 23 December 2011

Norfolk - Day 1 ~23rd December~

My first day in Norfolk today and what a day! The journey was relatively painless and once in Norfolk we could see the skeins of Pink Footed Geese heading off from their roosts. We are staying in Wells next the Sea next to the quay, which today was full of Brent Geese.

We decided to go for a quick walk to Wells Beach before the forecasted rain arrived. Along the shore line, there were a number of Oystercatchers, Bar-Tailed Godwits, Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin. The highlight of the walk was undoubtedly the small colony of tame Seals we discovered, some which allowed us to approach to less than 10-15 ft. Not bad for the first day!!

Bar-Tailed Godwit




Saturday, 17 December 2011

Slimbridge WWT ~ 17th December~

Went to Slimbridge today and had a fantastic time. The two and a half hour journey each way was certainly worth it. First of all, I'd like to say what an amazing place Slimbridge is and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

We started off around the Rushy where an incredible number and diversity of birds were seen. 280 Pintail, 70 Bewick's Swans, 100+ Shelduck, 600+ Tufted Duck. The Bewicks were a first for me and watching their squabbles was fascinating. In the Peng Observatory we had even better views of these species and I managed to get a few reasonable shots (shown below). Of more interest was the returning Female Lesser Scaup which we were shown as soon as we entered the observatory. For those of you unfamiliar with female Lesser Scaups,  they are practically a female Tufted Duck with slightly peaked head and only nail black on the bill, not  easily distinguishable features when the bird is asleep 60 metres away!!

Next off we went into the captive collection. These provide stunning photo opportunities for species usually only seen through a scope, but we saw too many species to list!!

Our next target was to try and see the Bittern. People have been lucky enough to see this bird showing in the open recently but our views were very poor; so bad that we could only see the birds neck!! From this hide we also saw over 500 Dunlin.

Finally we tackled the last section of the reserve. This part was perhaps the most productive, birds seen include: 50+ White Fronted Geese, 200+ Golden Plover, 3000+ Lapwing, 1 Peregrine, 1000+ Teal, 700+ Wigeon and 100 Barnacle Geese.

Unfortunately by this time the sun was already setting but we decided to return to the Peng Observatory for the Swan Feed and to have another scan for the Lesser Scaup. We scanned for the scaup furiously but it was nowhere to be seen, until we discovered it had been asleep in front of us all the time, only around 10 metres from the hide!!! As the light was so poor, I only got a couple of bad record shots, but it was great to see this rare little bird so close. The feed itself was also fascinating as we watched over 100 Bewick's Swans coming into feed. All in all a great days birding!

Goldeneye (Captive)

Hooded Merganser (Captive)

Flamingo (Captive  - Obviously!!) 

Demoiselle Crane (Captive)

Spot the Bittern!!
Bewick's Swan 
Bewick's Swan
Pintail (Wild)

Pintail (Wild) 
Wigeon (Wild) 
Golden Plover,  Bewick's Swans and White-Fronted Geese
Lesser Scaup (Wild) - (to the right of shelduck)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Short Eared Owls Again!

Another trip to see the long staying Short Eared Owls today. In total we saw a total of 4 Short Eared Owls, 1 Barn Owl and we heard a Female Tawny Owl. We also had some stunning views of a Kestrel ripping apart a vole.... lovely!! Unfortunately the sun had set before the owls came out to play but I got a couple of shots.

Other Species seen include : Fieldfare, Stonechat, Mipits


Short Eared Owl

Short Eared Owl

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Papercourt Meadows ~10th December~

For nearly 3 weeks now I have been watching sightings of Short Eared Owls at Papercourt Meadows flood in, so today, I thought I would finally give it a go. Unfortunately these owls are not as co-operative as other owls and they only come out to play at dusk! We were in position by 2:00 and at 2:20, the first Short Eared Owl appeared (my first for 14 months!!). Over the course of the next 2 hours we saw a total of what we estimate to be 7 Short Eared Owls. At times they landed allowing us to get some really stunning views although for the most part, they remained to distant for photography. We were also lucky enough to see 1, possibly 2 Barn Owls hunting, although unfortunately they did not appear until the sun had set. A great afternoon and I hall be returning  if they stick around!

Other species seen: Stonechat, Redwings, Fieldfares

Short Eared Owl

Short Eared Owl

Barn Owl (with Short Eared)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dartfords Again!

Went to the local Dartford Warbler hot-spot again this morning but had better views of the birds than I could ever have imagined!! We saw a total of 8 birds (yes 8!!!) in a spot which is relatively small in heathland terms. All but 1 of these birds were male, which probably means the females were remaining hidden which could put the figure of birds on site nearer the 15 mark. I can't put into words the incredible views we had of the birds, but hopefully the photos below give an idea of how well the birds showed and just how close they were!!

Other birds seen today include Redwing, Stonechat, Skylark.


Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Dartfords!! ~27th November~

Heathland is a habitat I do not get to visit as much as I would like but after hearing of potential Dartford Warblers, I decided to investigate. Unfortunately the finder of the bird has asked me to keep the location of the birds a secret, so for now, it is "an undisclosed location in NE Hampshire"! There were  number of Stonechats at the site along with small numbers of Meadow Pipits and a lone Sparrowhawk and after around 20 minutes of searching we heard the unmistakable sound of a Dartford Warbler. It was soon apparent that there was more than one bird and by the end of our walk we were confident we had seen at least 3 individuals! As always, they were a really nightmare to photograph but I did my very best!!  I was particularly excited about seeing these birds as they were my first Dartfords for 8 months! Going back next weekend for more!


Spot the Dartford!!

A slightly easier... Spot the Dartford!

Dinton Pastures ~20th November~

With recent reports of Bearded Tit and Water Rail I thought Dinton Pastures would be a worth a visit to today. We were fortunate enough to have some great views of the many wildfowl and I was able to obtain my best Gadwall and Tufted Duck photographs. Unfortunately the Bearded Tit had not been seen all day and he was not to show for us either. However we had better luck with the Water Rail; a bird showed on and off for around 30 minutes before disappearing into the reed bed. This is only my 3rd water rail and I was able to get a couple of shots as the bird was reasonably obliging! Overall, a very pleasant afternoon!

Water Rail

Female Gadwall

Tufted Duck

Male Gadwall