THE FIRST NORFOLK BIRD FAIR – 17th & 18th May 2014 at Mannington Hall, Norfolk

CLEYSPY, Glandford & Cley, Norfolk – UK SPECIALISTS IN OPTICAL EQUIPMENT – "A First Class Service"

Ring RARE BIRD ALERT with your sightings to: 01603 456789 or Hotline: 0207 0382820 or Text: 07624 800479

LOOKING FORWARD TO SUNNY DAYS, EASTERLIES AND 'RARES' PLEASE!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

BLAKENEY POINT!

MALE REDSTART
The Plantation, Blakeney Point

With SE winds, rain, cloud and sun later, I felt it would be an excellent day for Blakeney Point! In fact a much better day then yesterday, when the Hoopoe had delayed me. So off I went to Cley.

Cetti's Warbler singing at Cley Sewage Works and also Long-tailed Tit seen. Stopped at the Cley Deli to buy my favourite Pear & Ginger cake – the ladies in the shop knew what I had come in for! Then off to the Cley Visitor Centre to get a buttered Cheese Scone to take away!

At Walsey Hills NOA I had a brief walk along the bottom path and saw a male Blackcap and heard a Cetti's Warbler. I also bumped into Sophie Barker (NOA warden) who had mist nets up and was ringing birds – she had just caught a Cetti's Warbler.

At Coastguards there were loads of Golden Plover on the 'Eye Field' and the usual Lapwing in the overspill carpark. I was packing my bag up ready for the walk to BP, when who should turn up in the carpark, James McCallum! Bother – he would now find all the goodies. I jokingly told him to 'go away' – he laughed! Mark G. also appeared from having walked from the east and also Steve G. Steve showed us a picture on the back of his camera that he had taken this morning, of a Nightingale that had landed on his lawn!!! There was a Wheatear on the fence post and a Yellow Wagtail flew over. I left Mark and James chatting, while I sped off (well ok, trudged through the shingle) ahead!
Female Reed Bunting.

Male Reed Bunting.

Birds seen on route to 'Halfway House': Ringed Plover, Whimbrel calling (in fact several throughout the day), several Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Swallows, Sandwich Terns, Reed Buntings, Willow Warbler and a Wheatear. I passed a birder walking back, who had seen a Stonechat and a also in 'The Plantation' a male Redstart. At 'Halfway House' I  had 2 more Wheatears. I sat on the concrete steps of the house and had a coffee and cake. Several Linnets were feeding on the path that leads down to the jetty. All the wooden seating and the picnic table has gone, I presume washed away in the December storm surge.
Ringed Plover.

Golden Plover at 'The Hood'.

James MacCallum searching for rares by 'Halfway House'.


At 'The Hood' I counted 13 Shelducks and also a single Golden Plover which was nice! I then had a thrush perched on a bramble distantly – it looked like a fieldfare, but I wanted it be something more exciting. Got a record shot. Crept closer and then bumped into James who had caught me up. We sneaked over the dune and could then clearly see, that it was indeed a Fieldfare. The bird then bounded away over the shingle and landed briefly. James had just seen a 'stonking male Redstart' which was very annoying, as I didn't see it – typical! I spent quite a while looking for this, whilst James went off ahead, but no luck at all. I had 2 more Wheatears on the shingle area near 'Long Hills'.
Fieldfare at 'The Hood'.

Fieldfare flying over the shingle ridge.

Male Redstart in 'The Plantation'.

I arrived at 'The Plantation' at 3.15pm and couldn't wait to sit down! The tamarisk buds were just beginning to open into their beautiful pink swathe of colour. I sat down on the western most side and ate my late lunch and coffee. There were several Chiffchaffs, possibly 5 in all and a few Linnets, but no sign of any Redstart. It's amazing how birds can hide in here – you wouldn't think it would be possible, especially when trees and bushes in here are only just coming into leaf. James then joined me later and together we heard what we thought was a Whitethroat but....... James was thinking subalpine....... he looked excited and needless to say I then was too! Our excitement soon died though, when Paul Nicholls (one of the Volunteer Wardens) appeared and informed us that he had seen a Common Whitethroat in here earlier! Paul also said the Redstart was still in here and 'didn't like being watched'! I left the 'men' to chat and I walked round to the front side. I wished I hadn't, as James and Paul then saw the Redstart! That bird was so elusive, it took me ages to see it! Paul left and so did James. I was determined to see this bird and wasn't leaving until I did! Eventually..... I caught a glimpse of it – a stunning male Redstart sitting in the bottom of a tree in the sunshine and also managed to get a picture too! I waited another half an hour to get a better shot, but I was pushing my luck there! A Robin also appeared. The Whitethroat did not show its face at all. As I left, just after 6pm, there was a Chiffchaff in the tamarisk shrub. A Marsh Harrier was gliding around over 'Long Hills'. A Skylark rose high above me in the blue skies.
Skylark.

Pink Thrift in abundance on Blakeney Point.

It was a beautiful evening, in fact the best part of the day. I walked back via 'The Hood' in hope of seeing James's Redstart, but no luck. Lots of Linnets here and also flushed a Sparrowhawk. At 'Halfway House' I sat on the steps and watched a Wheatear and more Linnets and also photographed a very bright male Reed Bunting (see below). Crossed over onto the beach and walked back along the shoreline, singing and talking to myself, anything to pass the time! The tractors were in my viewpoint and never seemed to look bigger. The last bit of the walk to Coastguards seems to take forever! I eventually arrived back at 8pm. It was still light, unusual for me! Sorted my bag out, had a coffee and left at 8.30pm, arriving home at 9.20pm.
Reed Bunting at Halfway House this evening.

Read all the latest news from the wardens at Blakeney Point here:
http://norfolkcoastnationaltrust.blogspot.co.uk/

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'  Ring Ouzel at Nunnery Lakes NR, Thetford
Ring Ouzel at West Harling Heath, Thetford
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL Male at Lynford Aboretum
Ring Ouzels x 6 at North Dunes, Winterton
Hooded Crow, Ring Ouzels x 2, Nightingale, White Wagtail at Beeston Bump, Sheringham
Great White Egret at Welney WWT

Pied Flycatchers x 2 at Great Yarmouth Cemetery
Spotted Redshanks x 2 at Breydon Water
Tree Pipits x 3 at Hemsby
Black Redstart at Weybourne
Spoonbill, Little Gull at Cley NWT
Redstart Male at Blakeney Point
Garganey x 2, Whimbrels x 2, Bar-tailed Godwit at Buckingham Marshes RSPB
Twite at Snettisham Coastal Park

Other News News from Holme NOA HERE
A second Male Redstart was also found by J.M. at The Hood, Blakeney Point.


MEGA NEWS! 

NONE!

Malta - Massacre on Migration (Episode 1)


Monday, 21 April 2014

Hoopoe at Thornham!

HOOPOE
Kindly taken by Matt Mulvey with my camera,
as I wasn't tall enough to see over the wall!
Cropped and edited in photoshop by me though!

This virus is getting boring now, still felt ill this morning, but was determined to go out birding. Because of replying to emails last night (shouldn't have done), but some were important and because of this, I didn't get to bed as early as I hoped – and then couldn't get up early this morning!

I was on my way to walk Blakeney Point. Yep, that may sound a crazy idea when I have been unwell, but I decided that I wanted to find a mega in one of my favourite places. After all, no one else has found any this Easter weekend! The pager bleeped up with 'HOOPOE' at Thornham!!! Now, I know its no mega, but Hoopoe's are always fabulous to see and we don't get that many in Norfolk – probably because most are shot in Malta (see important link HERE). So off I whizz to Thornham.

Directions for anyone looking tomorrow: driving through Thornham with the shop/village hall on your right hand side, take the first road right which is 'Ringstead Road'. Park on verge 'up the road' (Norfolk dialect!) and walk right, along the farm track (just after posh housing estate!). Walk along this farm track until you can view a large grassy field on your right hand side. In the far left corner of this field (by children's sand pit/play area) is where the Hoopoe was first found this morning at 8am by a lady, non-birder/holiday-maker who is staying in a cottage only yards away from where she found the Hoopoe, so congratulations to her! She phoned her sighting through (later) to Titchwell RSPB and someone from there (I believe) checked it out later in the morning.

I first saw the Hoopoe at 12.12pm and it was still in the far corner of the field. Fabulous bird and cheered up the day for many birders I think, with lack of 'rares' around Norfolk this weekend. It was however distant through my lens and Steve G. said it didn't look exactly brilliant through his lens either – just to give you an idea of distance! We could have moved closer, afterall a family with dog walked across the field and it wasn't bothered at all. There were many familiar faces here including R.M., Dave Holman and wife, Steve and Sue G., Connor R., James & Simeon, David N., Julian Bhalerao, Mike Sidwell, John F., Dave, Mark Bradbury and wife, Sue B., Ken Reeves..... to name but a few! Oh and it was really nice to see Rob and Ann Gordon who I have not seen for ages. My pictures were all 'record shots' and fuzzy – I did get lucky though when for a momens only, the Hoopoe displayed his crest out in full – wonderful!
Hoopoe in the far corner of the field, Thornham.

Later the Hoopoe decided to bomb over the fence into the gardens adjacent to the A149. I walked round to the main road and peered through a wrought iron garden gate which had a very neat lawn and hedges. A man walked across the road and asked 'Can I help you?' This man turned out to be the owner of the property (The Red House) and seemed really interested when I told him all about the Hoopoe. He very kindly escorted me into his garden to search for the Hoopoe. I was so excited about getting a full frame shot of this bird! We crept round all the hedges and lawns but no sign. Approximately 10 minutes after this, a message came up on the pager that the Hoopoe had appeared again in the corner of the field – I reckon we flushed it back over there, just a guess! It went missing again later on.

I left here and drove my car along 'Ship Lane' (with the Lifeboat Inn on my right) and as I did I found a Ring Ouzel in a field just past the Inn on the left hand side – only got a rubbish picture of it, which isn't worth posting, but a nice find. R.M. was only yards away, so I let him know it was here, he just saw it before it dived in the hedge. I parked my car along 'The Green' in Thornham and followed the footpath that runs west through the reedbeds and pools. Birds seen here were: my first Swift of the year, Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Goldfinches, a Greenfinch, a few Jackdaws and a single Chiffchaff.
Hoopoe sitting on a garden wall – pity about the branch!

I went back to look for the Hoopoe. It was not in the corner of the field, so I walked round to the main road again. A birder had re-located the Hoopoe in the same garden I had been into earlier on (with owner). There it was sitting on the lawn by a greenhouse! But there was one big problem – to see this bird, I had to stand on a tree stump and jump to view over the high wall!!! There was no way I could photograph it, not tall enough – I was cursing! But Matt Mulvey (Midlands birder) who was considerably taller than me, took tons of pictures with my camera for me – which was really kind of him and I am very grateful. He got some decent shots too, so a massive thank you if you are reading this! I phoned the news out to RBA, as there were birders round by the field that had not seen this bird yet. By this time, the owner had appeared again with his wife and was unbelievably helpful and bought a ladder round to put up the wall, so people could look over!!! Because I had seen the bird, I didn't join the queue for the ladder (sounds funny doesn't it!), but I wish I had, then I could have taken pictures by me! The Hoopoe then moved to a different part of the garden (so people thought) and some thought it had maybe flown back to the corner of the field, so most people left. The owner of the property kindly let me go in the garden again (escorted) and we found the Hoopoe sitting on a stone wall at 5.44pm!!! It looked so beautiful. But my picture was ruined by a big branch going right through the bird! It flew into an apple tree and then towards an adjacent garden – I didn't see it any more after that!

Left Thornham and drove home via Ringstead to look on the fields for Dotterel. Found a Marsh Harrier, but nothing else of note. Very, very cold this evening.

If the couple who live at 'The Red House' are reading this, please email me and I will send you a picture of your garden Hoopoe! The same goes to the lady who found the Hoopoe.

MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED ANOTHER DAY!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Glossy Ibis, Whimbrels x 23, Arctic Tern at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT
Whimbrels x 2 flew over Beeston Common, Sheringham
Crossbills x 2 at Horsey
Great White Egrets x 2 at Welney WWT
Spotted Redshanks x 5 at Burgh Castle
HOOPOE off Ringstead Road at Thornham
Ring Ouzel at West Runton
Crossbills x 10, Bramblings x 2 at Lynford Aboretum
Richard's Pipit at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Spotted Redshanks x 3 at Breydon Water
Redstart at Holme Bird Observatory NOA
Arctic Terns x 2 at Upton Fen
 

Other News
News from Holme NOA HERE including a Male Redstart ringed.
Ring Ouzel early pm in field just east of the 'Lifeboat Inn' at Thornham - me, forgot to text RBA!

MEGA NEWS!MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – still, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire
MEGA! PRATINCOLE Sp. – Northam Burrows Country Park on mud, Devon

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Loads of Photos Added & Update!

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/cley-salthouse-firecrest.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/golden-wedding-anniversary-celebrations.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/east-coast-birding.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/sutton-gault-lynford-aboretum.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/hot-birding-at-holme.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/raven-twitch.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/ringstead-downs-nwt-and-holme-reserves.html

CRAG MARTIN POST - all pictures added
http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/mega-twitch-crag-martin.html

Not been out of the house again today, still feeling rubbish. Tomorrow I am going birding however I feel, can't stand it any longer!

Been editing photos all day and its now gone 10pm, so now need to make sandwiches etc.

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Ring Ouzel, Whimbrel, Grasshopper Warbler x 2 at Snettisham Coastal Park
 
Ring Ouzels x 5 at North Dunes, Winterton 
Ring Ouzel at Northrepps
Glossy Ibis, Spotted Redshank at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT
Garganey x 2, Little Gull at Titchwell RSPB
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL (Male + 2x1w), at Lynford Aboretum
Arctic Terns x 15, Great Skua, Whimbrel at Hopton-on-Sea
Hen Harrier at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Arctic Terns x 4 at Blakeney Point
Short-eared Owl at Thorpe Marshes, Haddiscoe
Quail at Great Cressingham
 

Other News
Red-rumped Swallows x 2 at Upware, Cambridgeshire
Red-rumped Swallow at Felixstowe Docks, Suffolk

MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BLYTH'S PIPIT (possible) – Eastern Gas Terminal, Easington, Yorkshire

Above: probable Richard's Pipit now.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Birding Blues!

I can't believe I feel so rubbish, that I couldn't go out of the house and look for migrants! A rotten start to Easter birding.

I didn't get up until after 11am and have felt crap all day. I was determined not to waste the day completely and have been selecting photos for recent posts, but even that was hard work. All now done, but need to edit them in photoshop and add to posts yet. Feel so run down. Don't know if I will get out tomorrow either!

Chris Packham In The Firing Line

http://www.itv.com/daybreak/hot-topics/chris-packham-in-the-firing-line-birds-protection-malta

Please see my earlier posts HERE and HERE and HERE

Norfolk Leads in Big Farmland Bird Count

"Norfolk returned the highest number of returns for the first “Big Farmland Bird Count” organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust."

http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/farming-news/norfolk_leads_in_big_farmland_bird_count_1_3565275

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Whimbrels x 2, Cuckoos x 2, Grasshopper Warbler at Snettisham Coastal Park

Ring Ouzels x 5 at North Dunes, Winterton 
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL Males, at Lynford Aboretum
HOODED CROW flew west and then out to sea at Holme Bird Observatory NOA
Spoonbill on marsh at Holme
Little Gull at Holme NWT
GOSHAWK
flew west over Freshmarsh, Blakeney

Spoonbill, Little Gull, Spotted Redshank at Titchwell RSPB
Velvet Scoter at Sheringham
Spotted Redshank at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT
Ring Ouzels x 3 at Roydon Common (S.B.
Short-eared Owls x 3 at Thorpe Marshes, Haddiscoe

Other News
The Baikal Teal at Pymoor is playing hard to get again today, having only been seen early morning and no sign again for the rest of the day. Perhaps its re-locating to Welney, which means I will then have to leave my sick bed for my Norfolk list, which is what R.M. and M.A.G were probably hoping for when they went to see the bird this week!

News from Holme HERE. News from Titchwell RSPB HERE

MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – remains, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire

MEGA! PIED-BILLED GREBE – still at Balranald RSPB. North Uist, Western Isles, Scotland

Friday, 18 April 2014

BAIKAL TEAL, Pymoor!

Feel really ill with this cold, temperature virus – had to lie in. Got to Pymoor at just before 10am. It was freezing cold and raining on and off, which the BBC did NOT forecast today! It took me until 11.55am to see the Baikal Teal and my viewing was very brief and distant indeed – incredibly close to being in Norfolk! A Yellow Wagtail also flew overhead. Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, 2 Swallows and one Marsh Harrier also seen here. Feeling steadily worse and needed to go home, but also needed to help my mother out who has the same virus and much worse than me. The holiday traffic to Holme was atrocious, but got there in the end and delivered a few requested items and also went to the supermarket for parents and did a few minor chores around their house for them. Mother refused point blank to have a doctor out to her which I feel she needs but, well what can I do!!! Made both parents hot water bottles etc etc and left at 4pm.

Feeling worse, I needed to go home, but had a quick walk round Hunstanton lighthouse and had a look at the pitch 'n' putt for wagtails, but only found Woodpigeons and one Mistle Thrush.

Good night!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Whinchat at West Runton
Common Scoter at Breydon Water
Ring Ouzels x 5 at North Dunes, 1 at South Dunes, Winterton
Ring Ouzels x 2 at Snettisham Coastal Park
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS x 2 (both males), Brambling at Lynford Aboretum
Ring Ouzels x 2, Whitethroat at Waxham
Spoonbill at Cley NWT
Spotted Redshank at Titchwell RSPB
Ring Ouzel at Holme Bird Observatory NOA
Ring Ouzels x 5 at Holme
Great White Egrets x 2 at Welney WWT
Arctic Tern at Colney Pits, Norwich
Redstart at East Wretham Heath
Honey Buzzard (unconfirmed report) NW over Little Ryburgh
Garganey x 10 at Stoke Ferry
Ring Ouzel at Beeston Common, Sheringham
Ring Ouzels x 2 at Horsey
Short-eared Owls x 2 at Thorpe Marshes, Haddiscoe

Other News
News from Holme HERE

MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – remains, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham attacks Malta's bird slaughter which has seen 'at least' 24 protected species killed

"Chris Packham, the nature programme presenter, has criticised television producers and bird charities for turning a blind eye to the mass slaughter of migrant birds in Malta....."

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/springwatch-presenter-chris-packham-attacks-maltas-bird-slaughter-which-has-seen-at-least-24-protected-species-killed-9256654.html

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Thursday Update & The Easter Weekend!

Another sore throat/temperature virus developed last night, struggled through at work today and feel crap this evening, so no early morning birding for me tomorrow. My mother has the same virus, but is a million times worse than me – I am really worried about her.

No mental energy to add pictures to blog yet, sorry! I suppose going twitching and losing a whole night's sleep didn't help my immune system!

Easterlies forecast for the weekend, so things should start hotting up and hopefully I'll feel a whole lot better, before something mega turns up!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2652856

Good Friday: Sunshine and northerlies all day.
Saturday: Sunshine and East North East all day.
Easter Sunday: Cloudy, rain, colder and North East all day.
Bank Holiday Monday: Cloudy and showers, East and then veering East North East
Tuesday: continuing east for my holiday!
Wednesday: and east again for the end of my holiday!

High Tides for King's Lynn Docks HERE
High Tides for Wells Bar HERE

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Ring Ouzel at Northrepps
Ring Ouzels x 2 at Horsey Corner
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW flew south over carpark at Horsey Gap
Ring Ouzels x 2, Redstart at Winterton
Common Cranes x 2 at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Spoonbill, Whimbrels x 17, Little Tern at Breydon Water
Ring Ouzels x 3, Whimbrel, Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroats x 3 at Snettisham Coastal Park
Yellow Wagtail, Hybrid Blue-headed Wagtail x Yellow Wagtail in Eye Field, Cley NWT
Ring Ouzels x 5, Yellow Wagtails x 13, Spotted Redshank, Spoonbill, Short-eared Owl at Burnham Overy Dunes
Firecrest, Garganey x 2 at Holkham
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS x 2 at Lynford Aboretum
Great White Egrets x 2 at Welney WWT
Dotterel x 4 at Felmingham
Swift at Stiffkey Fen (MAG + GE)
Ring Ouzel on east side of village, Holme
SERIN flew west over clifftop, Sidestrand
Shag at Wells Harbour

Other News
DUSKY WARBLER remains south side of Oulton Marshes SWT, Lowestoft, Suffolk
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW, RAVEN at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk

• Titchwell RSPB news HERE

MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – remains, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

RBA Weekly Round-Up 9th to 15th April

By Mark Golley
http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/weeklyroundup2014no15.aspx?s_id=800658835

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS x 2 (male +1w), Crossbills x 70 at Lynford Aboretum 

Great White Egret at Welney WWT
Ring Ouzel at North Dunes, Winterton
Common Cranes x 9 at Horsey
Great White Egret at Snetterton
Little Gull at Barton Broad
Garganey x 2, Little Gull at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Garganey x 2 at Hockwold Washes
Ring Ouzel behind Walsey NOA at Cley
Redstart at Redwell Marsh NOA, Holme
Slavonian Grebe at Pentney Gravel Pits
Purple Sandpipers x 2 at Sheringham

Other News
DUSKY WARBLER remains south side of Oulton Marshes SWT, Lowestoft, Suffolk
• Titchwell RSPB news HERE and Holme NOA news HERE MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – remains, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire
MEGA! PIED-BILLED GREBE – County Mayo, Ireland

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Roll on Friday!

I am exhausted from twitching the Crag Martin on Sunday! Took hours to write up my post last night and only added one gannet picture so far,  rest will be added later.

Spent most of the evening in the hairdressers after work, which I could have done without to be honest.

The weather looks pretty exciting, with easterlies over most of the Easter Break!!!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
Garganey x 2, Little Gull, Common Cranes x 2, Bittern at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Ring Ouzel at Burnham Overy Dunes
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS x 2 (both males) at Lynford Aboretum  
Common Cranes x 2 at Rockland Broad
Ring Ouzel, at Choseley Drying Barns 
Black Redstart at Horsey
Short-eared Owls x 3 at Burgh Castle

Other News
Titchwell RSPB news HERE
.
 
MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – again, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire
MEGA! PIED-BILLED GREBE – remains at Balranald RSPB. North Uist, Western Isles, Scotland

Monday, 14 April 2014

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert' 
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS x 3 (1 male, 1w, fem) at Lynford Aboretum
Ring Ouzel at North Dunes, Winterton
Little Gull at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Ring Ouzels x 3, at Choseley Drying Barns
Ring Ouzel at Burnham Overy Dunes
GOLDEN ORIOLE (heard only) this morning, reported at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

Other News No sign of the Crag Martin at Flamborough Head today.
 
MEGA NEWS!
MEGA! BAIKAL TEAL – again, NE of Pymoor, on the Hundred Foot Washes at Four Balls Farm, Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire
MEGA! AMERICAN COOT – remains at Loch Flemington, Highland, Scotland

Sunday, 13 April 2014

MEGA TWITCH! CRAG MARTIN!

Gannet at Bempton Cliffs RSPB

I have had a crazy, crazy top draw day!

CRAG MARTIN
Flamborough Head, Yorkshire

I needed some excitement – Saturday had been pretty boring. Going on a big twitch outside Norfolk is always exciting, gets the heart racing, the journey and banter (A.W. & J.L), breakfast in MacDonalds at a bizzare hour, seeing the bird (only dipped once), the lack of sleep (not) – I just love it, every single minute of it!

So...... Andy and I discussed on Saturday evening about twitching the Crag Martin. The way I saw it was, that to have any chance of seeing this mega bird, we needed to be there at first light – in hope of seeing it leave its roost site. 'Early bird catches the worm' and this certainly paid off today! As Andy says 'If you snooze you lose'! Sadly J.L was not able to go, but had already seen Crag Martin in UK anyway, so the crew consisted of just Andy and I. For a change, I decided to drive. Initially Andy was undecided, but phoned me back at midnight when I had just finished writing my blog for Saturday, to say he was having a quick shower and he would be over in an hour and a half. OMG!!! This was crazy, no sleep then!!! I got all my gear together and bundled it in the boot. I had already made sandwiches, as I had planned to see the Red-rumped Swallow at Felbrigg and then do Blakeney Point, so just flasks to make. Flew in the shower, fresh clothes on and then Andy turned up with a 'morning' greeting! A very quick coffee for both of us and then out of the door at dead on the planned departure time of 2am.

I was shocked at how awake I felt driving with no sleep whatsoever, adrenalin and excitement I suppose! We had planned to hit MacDonalds for breakfast before we got there, but unbelievably we didn't pass any, so had to make do with my chucked together ginger & marmalade sandwiches. Two loo stops on route – my god it was cold out there! Fantastic seeing the Humber Bridge lit up! The toll charge was £1.50 each way.
Sunrise at North Landing, Flamborough Head.

Somewhere on the cliffs a Crag Martin was waking up!

Andy Wilkinson. Norfolk birder Phil Heath on far right.

Some of the 'first lighters'.

Flamborough Headland.

Moments after seeing our first UK Crag Martin!

North Landing Beach, Flamborough.

135 miles later we arrived in the carpark at North Landing, Flamborough Head at 5am. There were a few other birders here already. We reclined the seats down and snoozed until first light. Lots of other birders continually arriving, banging doors, loud talking, no more snoozing! Got out of the car at 5.50am. It was wickedly cold this morning and the wind cut through you. It was so cold, it was like getting out of the car in your pyjamas! I spent far too long getting my coat and waterproof over trousers on.  Several familiar faces here including LGRE. My fingers were in so much pain with the cold that I had to swop them for mittens (always warmer). The scenery before us was stunning beyond belief – high cliffs, tons of seabirds swirling below us and the excitement of potentially seeing a new mega bird – a CRAG MARTIN! Birders were lined up and ready. It was eyes to the skies, searching for this mega bird. As the sun rose, we decided it would be better to stand near the cafe so that the light was better. Moments later someone had clocked onto the CRAG MARTIN coming in over the cliffs at 6.29am, nearer to where we were standing originally. We all ran over to get the best views on the cliff edge. I only watched this awesome bird for less than a few minutes and was just about to start taking pictures, when it sped off with Sand Martins and disappeared from view. I was over the moon that we had seen this awesome bird, but gutted that I didn't get a single photograph! It was such the briefest of views – I know this sounds greedy, when other people dipped out, who arrived later, but I would have loved to watch this awesome bird for longer, to study and enjoy it properly, but I should count my blessings that I actually got to see it all! There were lots of relieved and smily faces! Several other Norfolk birders were here, including Dave Holman, Richard 'the hat', Phil Heath, Will Soar and others.
Flamborough Headland.

Tawny Pipit – honest!!!

I wanted more of this bird, so we followed the cliff path to re-search for the Crag Martin. We then heard that the recent Tawny Pipit had been re-found a bit further along the path in a field. We walked to the spot at a fairly decent pace and stood with Will Soar (RBA), LGRE etc and had good views of the TAWNY PIPIT at 7.20am in a grassy field. The usual conversation then ensued, about people getting too close when others hadn't seen it yet, so I walked away, having only achieved smudgy out of focus shots on my camera. We then heard news that *people had got the Crag Martin again and that it had also been seen sitting on a cliff edge – we could see were they were watching the bird..... it was between us and North Landing carpark – it was only seen for a few minutes and then lost to view again. We had been standing in the same area only a short while ago. *Read about this and see cracking pictures HERE. I walked back to try and get some pictures of the Tawny Pipit, but by the time I had walked around all the other birders/photographers the bird had just flown, unluckily for me. Cracking pictures of this bird taken today HERE.

Not long after this, news broke of the Crag Martin flying round in the Lighthouse area. As Lee said, as we all looked at the distant lighthouse – it was further to walk there, than the long walk we had just done from the North Landing carpark. So the choice was, leg it to the lighthouse or walk back and get the car. Andy went off to the lighthouse. My gut feeling was that this Crag Martin would be hanging about all day now and I am a great believer that birds have their favourite spots – I didn't want to walk to the lighthouse and then hear that it was back at North Landing, so I opted to stay put – this more than often pays off. Now most people had left, I sat myself next to the Tawny Pipit field in hope that it would return – it didn't! Andy then appeared and said he didn't go as far as the lighthouse as news came out that it had disappeared again at 7.50am and that was the last time it was seen that day.

We then decided to return to the carpark and re-locate to the lighthouse in case the Crag Martin showed again. Still a good number of birders waiting patiently at North Landing carpark and late comers arriving. On arrival at the lighthouse, it was clear from the relaxed state of birders lined up, that the Crag Martin was not currently on show! I felt close to collapse now and we needed to eat, so we had a full breakfast and opted to sit outside, even though it was bloody freezing, yards from other birders so we didn't miss anything! My vegetarian breakfast didn't score a 10 out of 10 with the bean burger being rock hard around the edges, but the eggs, beans and toast were yummy and it made me feel a whole lot better afterwards. Aside from the freezing temperatures, it was a glorious sunny day. No further signs of the Crag Martin. Decisions, decisions, what to do next? I really didn't want to leave here at all, but Andy suggested we go to Bempton Cliffs RSPB for a while and then return. As he said, if the Crag Martin appeared again, we would only be 3 miles down the road, so off we went. Unbelievably I have never visited Bempton Cliffs, so I was really excited about visiting this reserve.

Gannets and Kittiwakes at Bempton Cliffs RSPB


Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Parked up in the carpark and had a wonderful time watching loads of resident Tree Sparrows: on the roof of the visitor centre, bird feeders, on the grass, in the bushes – I reckon there must have been at least 30+. We watched 13 together feeding on the grass alone, wonderful views and lots of pictures taken! Other birds seen with them were: Hedge Sparrows, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. The visitor centre supplies basic snacks and coffee & teas.

Walked down to the cliffs to the viewing points – absolutely incredible views. I hadn't had cliff and seabird views since I went to Fair Isle in 2010. This lifted my spirits massively. It was awesome standing here watching and listening to thousands of sea birds swirling round the cliffs – Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Herring Gulls. We also found 2 Puffins sitting on the sea which was an added bonus! We moved to a different viewing point where the gannets were much closer. I had a fabulous time taking hundreds of Gannet pictures and also Fulmar and Kittwakes! It was fascinating watching the Gannets landing, to gather grass for their nest sites – got several shots of this. Andy said a bit later 'when you have finished taking your one millionth picture of gannets, shall we go and have a coffee? Andy doesn't get the photography thing! I love taking birds in flight – its more challenging and very rewarding and I got some cracking shots – well I think I have..... I haven't looked at them all yet! Apart from a couple of skylarks we didn't see any passerines on the cliff tops.

Back at the visitor centre we had a coffee and shared a chocolate brownie, whilst watching the Tree Sparrows again. We desperately needed a nap. Andy wanted to nap here, I wanted to nap back at North Landing. Napping at Bempton mean't a 3 mile race if the Crag Martin came up again.
TREE SPARROWS
Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Chaffinch by the feeders, Bempton Cliffs RSPB.
 Jackdaw by the feeders, Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

 
GANNETS
Bempton Cliffs RSPB

Gannets and Kittiwakes, Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Kittiwakes, Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Fulmar at Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Great Black-backed Gull (juv.) at Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Kittiwake, Bempton Cliffs RSPB.
North Landing, Flamborough Head
Back in the carpark, we reclined the seats and snoozed for an hour. We felt loads better afterwards. There were still birders sitting on seats, waiting and hoping. We ate the cheese sandwiches that I had made and had coffee from the flask. I left Andy sitting here whilst I trekked back over the cliff top path to try and see the Tawny Pipit and get some decent photos. I passed a birder on route who said it was not showing and the last he had heard, was that the Tawny Pipit was last seen around the lighthouse area. So I didn't walk to the field where I saw it this morning and instead turned back and walked over to the edge of the cliffs to sit, photograph and watch distant seabirds. Got some arty farty shots of Razorbill sitting on the sea and some Kittiwake gliding past. Panoramic views and arches in the cliffs  – it was so beautiful here, so much scenery to take in and I didn't want to go home.
Razorbill at Flamborough Head.

Kittiwakes, cliffs at Flamborough Head.

Razorbills & Kittiwake, North Landing, Flamborough Head.

Kittiwake at North Landing, Flamborough Head.

Razorbills & Guillemots, North Landing, Flamborough Head.

 Kittiwake at North Landing, Flamborough Head.

North Landing Beach, Flamborough Head.

Back at the carpark Andy and I had a coffee from the cafe and I bought us some scrumptious buttered cheese scones for only £1.20 each (far cheaper than certain places in Norfolk!) to eat later on the homeward journey. We sat on a seat overlooking the beach and cliffs drinking our coffee. More birders were now turning up – maybe they were thinking about yesterday's afternoon sighting – would this bird return again? With more people turning up, I didn't want to leave, but we had to, with no sleep since Friday evening and over 3 hours before home (and another hour for Andy), we sensibly had to leave. So we set off at 3.50pm.
Starling on the wires in North Landing carpark.

Birders hoping for the Crag Martin to show this afternoon.

We stopped once for our cheese scones and coffee. I had to stop once more when we had reached Sutton Bridge – I just had to, I was losing concentration. Shut my eyes for a few minutes and then carried on, reaching King's Lynn at 7.30pm. Filled up with diesel which cost £39.90 – we had done 293 miles in all, cost was better than I had expected, so that was good! Andy transferred all his gear into his car and went straight home. It seemed to take forever to unpack my car. Got straight into the shower. Finished my fruit salad. Wrote up the Norfolk bird news up on my blog and then started to write up today's twitch, but started falling asleep, so had to stop. A cracking day out with, as always excellent company, but missed Justin's banter! I'm usually lucky getting photos of rare birds, so its massively disappointing to get nothing at all. I think I might have a distant shot of the Tawny Pipit on a post, but will look at pictures properly later.

Looking forward to the next twitch!!! Easter Weekend? I still might have a chance of photographing the Crag Martin if it turns up in Norfolk – here's hoping!