Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Day With My Grandparents!

It seems odd that I am doing a wildlife based post, to do with my Grandparents, but there it goes. I had the day their due to my mums work absence, so they took me to Christchurch Park in Ipswich in the afternoon. More of that later, because a quite eventful day in their garden.

Because my granddad has got a golf hole in his lawn, we spent a lot of time outside playing golf, and getting holes-in-ones in the scorching heat. A good sight for his garden was a Long-tailed Tit party moving through his conifers, 4 or 5 birds in total. Plenty of Butterflies were entering the garden, with a Green Hairstreak, Small Tortoishell, and Large White all visible. Lunch came early for me, Fish and Chips was on the plate, gorgeous as ever, (my grandmother makes fantastic dinners.)

All sun-creamed up, and Granddad and I headed for Christchurch Park, looking for the Mandarin Ducks. I wanted to get pictures and a video if possible, but I have seen the Mandarins at Christchurch before. Well this is what we got......

 3 Mandarin Ducks

2 Mandarin Ducks out of those

In total, 5 Mandarin Ducks, and as I say on the video, I only thought that there was one here.
Happy Birding!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Is It Us?

Dad and I visited RSPB Snettisham for the first time on Monday, looking for the adult White-rumped Sandpiper. As the title says, it had moved on from the reserve, so I was a bit annoyed, and then it was located at Cley the following day! Another scarce wader miss!

It was a long walk from the car park to get to the Rotary Hide, or The Wash itself. Along on the pits held plenty of Greylag Geese, and Black-headed Gulls. A lovely sight though was about 30 Golden Plovers flying over our heads, and we then located them on the mudflats on The Wash.....

Golden Plovers

Some more waders on the list included about 50 Sanderling, 80 Dunlin, and in the distance, the swirling flocks of about 400 Knot was a nice sight. Some careful searching amongst the Dunlin included a Curlew Sandpiper, the second bird in about a week! Plenty of Terns were about too, with Common, Arctic, Little and Sandwich all present.

We then took a detour to Titchwell Marsh, hearing that a Little Stint was on the Freshmarsh. Parking in the Car Park and, walking up to the visitor center, we noticed that the Little Stint was still about, so we headed straight out. Getting past the first bed of reeds was a great tactic, as a Bittern was flying straight towards us, then landed in the reeds. If I could have had my camera ready, I would have made the photography world headlines! Other interesting birds of note included Little Egret, Dunlin, Ruff, Avocet and Curlews. He are some videos......


Ruff feeding

We got to the Island Hide, and plenty of the normal stuff were about on the Freshmarsh, including the Little Stint, which was incredibly distant, even in the scope it was just a dot moving about on the stones. To far away to get a pic, but the Black-tailed Godwits got a good view, with the Stint hopping around them. The Egyptian Geese were having good times, swimming around the Freshmarsh, accompanied by the Common Tern.
Egyptian Goose

Happy Birding!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dam, it's gone, but still a great day!

On Sunday, all of us went to Cley, on the North Norfolk coast. We went their to go and see the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been lingering over there. Today was more of a wading day, with less passerines due to with the water. Unfortunately, the Pectoral Sandpiper had moved on to Titchwell, but there was still plenty to be found out on the marsh.
We started the day by heading to Avocet, Dawke's and Teal Hide, looking out onto Whitwell and Simmonds Scrape, along with Pats Pool. The first Little Ringed Plovers of the year were loitering around the scrapes, along with many chicks. Its great to see these summer visitors breeding locally! Also about were plenty of Ruff, Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits. Also, some first Bar-tailed Godwits of the year were in amongst the Black-tails. Moving on to Teals Hide, 2 Green Sandpipers were visible on Pats Pool, but only briefly as they soon went out of sight. 

Little Ringed Plover on Whitwell Scrape

Ruff on Simmonds Scrape

We then moved to Bishops Hide viewing Carters Scrape, and not a great deal in the hide, but all 10 Spoonbills were in the air spreading their wings, but soon landing on North Scrape. Some Common Sandpipers were viewable from Bishops and Teal Hide, and not that elusive.
Moving on to walking along East Bank, and several Bearded Tits were flitting along the reedbeds, with this one nearly in the river....

Both Bearded Tits along East Bank

We got to the beach and a nice Whimbrel flew past along the sea, heading west. Another nice sight was about 50 or so Sandwich Tern fishing near by on the shore - see bottom video. We got to the hide looking out onto the North Scrape, and all 10 Spoonbills seen earlier were resting on a bit of grass. The key bird to see in here first though, was the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, a bird I have never seen before. It took a while to find  it amongst the Dunlins, but 2 Knots were resting nearby the hide. We got some pics, but their not brilliant....

This one being the better image, paler bird, center.

Not brilliant!

Spoonbills at rest.

Last but not least, a beautiful male Linnet sitting on some gorse, followed by some Sandwich Terns.


Just a quick update on our Woodpecker, and we haven't seen him since Saturday, so maybe are peanuts have gone soggy, or maybe his young have fledged, so he has to keep care of them. Possibly going birding on Monday with weather pending. Happy Birding.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nightjar, Rare Garden Visitors and a Patch Visit

Part 1
Because of me writing our Mull Diary, a lot of birding events for me have taken place recently, (the title of this post says it all). On the 22nd June, we went to Westleton Heath - near Minsmere RSPB - on a guided Nightjar walk. The weather held out for us, but the perfect Nightjar weather was just lacking. It was clear, a bit breezy, but no rain. We started by standing in a clearing waiting for a Nightjar to fly over, because apparently they fly over, and perch on a certain stick. After 10 minutes of waiting, the first Nightjar churred way in the distance, and then another one in a different direction, but still no near-by  birds. We headed on after 20 minutes or so, and we walked through some woodland to where one of the birds was churring. Stopping every minute or so, just checking for any churring birds. We got a path that headed on through a line of trees, bearing in mind it is dark. 50 yards before we stopped, a male Nightjar churred extremely close in the line of trees, but no showing. Moving that 50 yards closer, we got extremely close to it, but could we see it, no. Then, I spotted it sitting dead still on a branch, about 15 yards away from us. Every 8 people saw it in our group, and this picture follows. Its not the best, but the circle shows where it is......

Part 2
The next part is about our rare garden visitors, and for us this is a migrant if you want to put it that way, but these birds are really quite common, you may even get these in your own garden, but we don't, until a few days ago, and even right this minute.
We have lived where we live for about 10 years, and we have never had a Great-spotted Woodpecker - I've just given it away - in our garden. The closest was about 2 years ago, when we had one on a telegraph pole near our house, and actually the very first day of this year, as there was one flew over our house. Now, well, check it out.......

Its my Mum washing up you can here!
Here are some pics too......

We have had 2 more rarities in our garden, Coal Tits, and Long-tailed Tits. This winter, we had both Coal and Long-tailed Tits in our garden regularly, but died down in the spring and early this summer. Enjoy the following video. Unfortunately, no Coal Tits were photographed at this time.....

Long-tailed Tit in Garden Trees
Part 3
The Final Part is about my Patch Visit with my Dad on Sunday, and a few patch ticks included Green Woodpecker, Jay, and Common Tern. The video is brief, but it clearly shows that this Tern, and it was hunting over the lake, but soon disappeared over the trees. This is probably one of the same birds that was at Needham Lakes earlier this year. Other birds for note were Whitethroat, Blackcap, Moorhen, and Chiffchaff. Also, the local Reed Warblers were getting into high single figures around the lake, with plenty of sightings, including the pic. The Great-crested Grebe pair are now having their second brood, with the first brood raising 4 chicks, which have all left the lake.

Reed Warbler

Great-crested Grebe on nest

Common Tern

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Isle of Mull - Final Day

The Final Day on the Island, and with all the birds seen on the holiday already, what an earth should we go looking for. We all had a vote of the bird we wanted to see, and the answer was the Dipper. Researching the best places to see them was a bit of a struggle, but the River Aros, and Loch Ba seemed to be the places that stuck out the most. Looking at the map, it seemed that these places were in the north-ish part of the Island, and we were based in the south, so we had to allow about an hour and a half's journey to get there. So we got cracking straight away. 

With today being like all the other days (sunny), Wheatears, Pipits, Hoodys, Ravens, Buzzards, Eiders and the Hen Harriers were all visible, along with the Shorties from Pennyghael. 

We arrived along the River Aros, but with only passing places in sight. We couldn't see a Car Park, so we parked in one of the passing places - naughty naughty. We walked down the river about 50 yards, and with a pair of Grey Wagtails hopping about on the rocks, but no Dippers yet. We got to the point where we thought we should move the car, so Dad went back to move the car while Mum and I stayed to look out for the Dippers. 2 minutes later, I said with excitement "Dipper!" Mum soon found it after I described it and we got great views.

Newly fledged Dipper on Rivers edge

Obviously wants to get good shots of itself!

Loch Ba didn't produce very much at all, only a Red-breasted Merganser, Willow Warblers and Siskins, with a Cuckoo too, but a Toad was an interesting find, clumsily moving about in the damp leaves...

A brief sighting on the way back was 3 Otters running across the road right in front of the car, incredible. This sighting was actually on Day 5, I just forgot to put it on there.

Some of you may have noticed the Nightjar picture on the left hand side of this blog under Rarity Pictures, and that will be my next post, including a rare garden visitor, and also, another patch visit, with some good sightings. Speak to you soon.  

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Isle of Mull - Day 5

Like Bryans tour trip, we also go to a little Island in the south west of Mull called Iona. Some of you keen birders like me may of heard about the Glaucous Gull hanging about on the Island, so this is where we came. We hadn't really looked at where the Gull was on the Island, so we were just hoping for some Twitchers looking at this bird with Telescopes and Binoculars when we got there.

On the way to Fionnanphort - where you get the ferry - all the regular species were showing well, like Curlew, Hoodies, Wheatear, Stonechat and Willow Warbler. Also, going past both Eagle viewpoints meant that Golden and White-tailed Eagles were present. A really nice site though was outside where we were staying, which was a Ringed Plover. More explained further on......

Ringed Plover outside where we were staying - Pennyghael

Eider Duck at Bunessan

Great-Northern Diver also at Pennyghael

Arriving on the Ferry across to Iona, plenty of  Kittiwake, Shag, and Oystercatchers were flying from place to place if it was along the Ross, or on the land. 

On the Island, unfortunately no Twitchers were about, so no chance of finding, it, but what we came here for, was the Corncrake! The Fire Station was the first stopping point for us, then further along the road with some advice given before hand. No singing birds at the fire station, but the chipper song of Snipe alert me of a present one nearby. Moving towards the bird - which I couldn't see - I flushed it up out of some short grass, which I should have seen before hand. About an hour later still no luck. After being along the road, only a distant bird was singing, but none nearby, until we got back to the Fire Station. About 4 singing birds were in the Iris beds singing away, but not showing. 5 minutes later, my Dad spotted one flying briefly over the Iris beds close-ish, but it was good enough to confirm one. The bird we came for was complete, and now I don't have to worry about seeing one an more!