Saturday, 27 December 2014

Geese Galore and 230 for the year!

On Tuesday 23rd December, Dad and I visited North Warren first to see the range of geese that had been seen there. There had been 7 species in recent days, so we thought we'd go and check it out...

This was only the second time I had visited North Warren RSPB, so I only really knew the path leading through North and South Marsh. However, on this occasion, a good friend of ours told us to walk the "full Monty" and keep going, through the woods towards Thorpeness Sewage Works!

There was a couple of other birders up there, and we scanned the geese. The obvious goose specie was hundreds of Barnacle Geese, which stretched most of the way across the Northern part of North Marsh. I scanned through them, and picked up the 2 Red-breasted Geese, presumably escape birds, and about 40 ish White-fronted Geese.

 The Red-breasted Geese are in their somewhere!

Close up

I then picked up the flock of 15 Tundra Bean Geese on the right hand side of the flock, but like all of the geese present, they were a bit distant...

very hazy too

We did also see a very late Whimbrel, so don't know where he came from? Also present were some very nice Black-tailed Godwit and a pair of Stonechat.

We then headed to Covehithe Broad to look for the Shorelarks and Snow Buntings. On the approach road from Wrentham to Covehithe Church however, I glanced into the pig field on the left, and right by the road I thought I saw a Hooded Crow. I have had a lot of experience with these birds, so I was quite certain that was what it was, but as I was in a moving vehicle, I couldn't be 100% sure. 

The light was brilliant, but the wind was a killer, so photography was difficult. Managed to get some OK shots of the Shorelarks though on the east side of the broad.

We then went to look for the Snow Buntings, but everyone we passed said they hadn't seen them, so we wasn't expecting any. However, we walked in front of the cliffs, and within minutes the flock flew over the sea and over our heads, but unfortunately landed in the private cliff-top field, so no pictures were obtained. A great days birding though! No time to go to Dunwich, and there was no sign of my possible Hooded Crow on the way back either.

Happy Birding!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Update from past 2 weeks!

So sorry about the lack of posting. Been extremely busy with school GCSE's, a weekend in Derby and birding trips. Here is an update from the last 2 weeks.

On Sunday 30th November, a good friend of ours David Walsh took us down to do a 3-ish mile walk around Gedgrave Marshes and Butley area. It was a great walk, well worth the 4 hour walk! We got the ringtail Hen Harrier that had been present there for sometime (and still present there now!) with 2 Short-eared Owls on Havergate Island, with a second Hen Harrier. It was a great afternoon after a nice lay in!

The following weekend, I was really excited as we were going up to Swanwick in Derbyshire to take part in the annual BTO Conference 2014. It was the first time I had been, so I didn't really know what to expect, but it was definitely worth going!

Friday evening, we eventually arrived at 6:05, 2 hours after the sat nav predicted our arrival! However, it was great! I caught up with my young birding buddies which I hadn't seen since April I think: Ellis Lucas, Toby Carter, Abby and Evie Miller, Findlay and Harley Wilde and Josie Hewitt!

We had a great dinner (Lasagne!), and then enjoyed the first talk, which was by  Helen MacDonald, where she talked about the history of hawks and humans. It was then a quiz where the young birders and I got together to form a team, where we came 4th I think out of about 9, so not bad considering the in-experience!

Saturday morning dawned, and the BTO Director, Andy Clements, kicked of the conference with a warm welcoming. We then listed to several talks, but it was then James Pearce-Higgins talk which I found particularly intersting about birds and climate change.

It was then lunch with Andy Clements (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), Chris Packham, (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and the other young birders (! lol). It was great to talk to Chris about the challenges he has done this year, including the illegal persecution of birds in Malta. We all also got a signed book from Chris about his "100 Things That Caught My Eye". 

We then had other talks, the highlights being Dave Leech's talk about nest recording (brilliant) and Mark Thomas about the illegal persecution of raptors, which was really inspiring! We then had dinner where I had Salmon - delicious!

Sunday morning was when all of the young birders, including myself, had to give a talk of how we got inspired by birds. All of the talks went really well, and I got a lot of positive feedback afterwards.

We then had our final lunch, before leaving - We had a brilliant time, and thank you to the BTO and Lucy McRobert for inviting us to the conference, Mum, Dad and I really appreciated it! 

Stour Estuary - Birds by Barge boat trip - 14th Dec 2014

The day started off well with a Peregrine on the first light ship, after setting out from Harwich towards Mistley early in the morning...

We then clocked on to a cracking Red-throated Diver on the way west, and then presumably the same bird at Mistley...

Mark Nowers, the guide of the tour, then clocked on to the Surf Scoter that has been wintering on the River Stour, where it showed really well, but we only had the little camera to hand, so hence the quality of the pictures.

On the way back, I picked up a cracking Great Northern Diver, which came really close, but again, only the little camera was around! Could've had some cracking pictures in the end, but hey ho!

Overall, we saw 38 different species which I've just added to BirdTrack! Here they are:
  1. Surf Scoter
  2. Herring Gull
  3. Sanderling
  4. Marsh Harrier
  5. Buzzard
  6. Turnstone
  7. Wigeon
  8. Teal
  9. Great Black-backed Gull
  10. Redshank
  11. Black-headed Gull
  12. Great Crested Grebe
  13. Brent Goose
  14. Mute Swan
  15. Cormorant
  16. Dunlin
  17. Knot
  18. Red-throated Diver
  19. Goldeneye
  20. Common Scoter
  21. Lapwing
  22. Shelduck
  23. Gadwall
  24. Woodpigeon
  25. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  26. Bar-tailed Godwit
  27. Avocet
  28. Great Northern Diver
  29. Little Grebe
  30. Black-tailed Godwit
  31. Curlew
  32. Peregrine
  33. Red-breasted Merganser
  34. Common Gull
  35. Jackdaw
  36. Carrion Crow
  37. Rook
  38. Oystercatcher
Happy Birding!!!!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Lowestoft and Gorleston - 9th November 2014

As this was my birthday birding treat, (my birthday was on the following Thursday), Dad took me to the east coast of Suffolk/Norfolk to see the 2 cracking Desert Wheatears, which would be great additions to my life list. We started at Lowestoft, and our plan was to bird around there, and then head up to Gorleston for the afternoon.

Several birders were on the sea wall, watching the cracking 1st Winter Male Desert Wheatear, hopping about on the sea wall. It was a cracking bird to watch. Penny Clarke was also there, so it was great to catch up with her too! Enjoy...

Meant to say 9th November 2014, not 9th October 2014 on the title screen. Oops!

We then went to see the long staying Red-backed Shrike, that had been present in the turbine yard. We joined up with Peter Ransome to try and find it, and within a minute, we found it in the brambles. Very hazy, but still good views.

Meant to say 9th November 2014, not 9th October 2014 on the title screen. Oops again!

We then went to Ness Point. We saw 5 Purple Sandpipers, which were new on the year list, but they didn't want to stop for a photo, which was a shame. 5 minutes of sea-watching produced 4 Red-throated Diver, 1 Med Gull and 3 Wigeon.

We then headed to Gorleston, and parked in Pier Gardens, and walked to the throng of birders. It showed brilliant, about 6 feet away on the sea wall!...

Come on! Done it again! Meant to say 9th November 2014, and not 9th October 2014! Last time guys, I promise!

That was the end to that day, but what a day it was. We finally know our way around Lowestoft! Only took 5 years. Hey ho! 

Happy Birding!!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

North Norfolk, A Mid Suffolk MEGA and a day of volunteering at RSPB Minsmere!

Wednesday 29th October 2014

This week was my half term week and the first day Dad had free so we could go birding. We thought we'd go for the Surf Scoter in Holkham Bay, and then wherever the birds take us. We arrived at Lady Anne's Drive at 11am, and as I scanned behind the flocks of Pink-feet, I picked up a Rough-legged Buzzard flying distantly towards Wells, its white rump very obvious. We got into Holkham Gap, and joined the small group of birders. Our first delight was a Slavonian Grebe, quite close inshore, and then we picked up the flock of Scoter. Bobbing in and out of view, the obvious white patches on the head picked out the cracking drake Surf Scoter, a lifer for both me and Dad! Great stuff!!! We didn't get any pictures though unfortunately.

We then headed to Cley, to try and find the Shorelark, but it had flown off by the time we got there, so we didn't waste the time, so we called into the Cley Visitor Centre, and got some cake. Yummy!!!

We then went to Burnham Overy Dunes for the rest of the day. We didn't see the reported Ring Ouzel, Whinchat nor any Lapland or Snow Bunting. We did find a brief Brambling, a flock of 200+ Golden Plover, and a Wheatear...

When we met David Norgate, he showed us a probable hybrid Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose that he had found. It was a nice bird to see, but it just didn't look right for the real thing!!!


After I played golf on the Thursday, Dad took me to see the cracking Hoopoe at Framsden in the afternoon. It was a great bird to watch...

Volunteering at Minsmere:

I was volunteering at Minsmere on Friday, being a guide on the reserve. I went out in the morning around the scrape with a couple of other guides, and we managed a juvenile Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull plus the usual waders/ducks. The gulls shot is just for the record...

In the afternoon, I was in Island Mere, and we got my first Goldeneye of the winter, the Great White Egret, 2 Bitterns and an Otter. An enjoyable day.

Very distant

Passing through Framsden to go to Cretingham to play golf, I enjoyed the Hoopoe again, and was delighted to show the bird to Mum. In the afternoon, an added bonus was an Osprey flying over! Brilliant.

Happy Birding!!!