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Tuesday 31 May 2011

Crap Day and bad mood - look out!

I am not good at being the house all day by myself, but decided to get some jobs done before the 'easterlies' start. Everything I have tried to achieve today has not happened. I email a requested picture to someone and receive a mail delivery notice, saying the file is too big. I had an argument with my insurance company - basically there is no point in having stuff insured and you have to fight tooth and nail to get an equivalent replacement. I missed posting some important stuff at the sorting office. I took a faulty kettle back to Tescos and got it replaced with another to find when I got home the filter is missing - tried to phone them but can only leave a message - can't take it back as it was the last one and I am not going without a kettle. I notice on facebook that my ex-husband has got married again on Saturday and says 'its the best day of his life' - well, funny that - the exact words he said to me in June '92. So I am in a bad, grotchedy (don't care how this is spelt), vile, angry, sad, pissed off mood. For the second year running I have no car tax reminder and then spent ages trying to find the relevant documents to get my car taxed and didn't get it today, because I left it too late, which means I can't go out early tomorrow as have to wait for PO to open. My hoover is broken. The hedge needs cutting. The garden needs doing. The housework needs doing. I need a house husband and a knight in shining armour!!! I wish now I had escaped and gone away for two weeks.

I hopefully will be in a better mood tomorrow, because whatever happens, come rain or shine I am not staying in this house to do anything!!!

Great Snipe Discovery!!!

Great Snipe could be the fastest migratory bird ever discovered according to researchers:

"........could well be the fastest bird on Earth – over long distances at least."

Monday 30 May 2011

Busy Bee!

I am on two weeks holiday but I booked a few bank shifts in the middle! I have just worked two double shifts (8am-1pm and 2pm-8pm), 2 days running, totalling 22 hours and am now burnt out and exhausted! Very luckily though, I have not missed any megas! Phew!

Someone, I noticed on RBA at lunch time has been lucky enough to see my favourite bird - a BEE-EATER today at Cromer, Overstrand and Northrepps. It was Northrepps where I saw my first and only Norfolk Bee-eater.

I am now off again for the rest of the week!!!

Will be going through unanswered emails and sorting pictures for blog tonight and tomorrow morning.

Saturday 28 May 2011

End of an era and beginning of a new one

Jed Andrews being presented with a gift from Chairman Geoffrey Barker.

Sophie Barker and Jed Andrews.

Jed Andrews, Warden, leaves Holme Bird Observatory this weekend after many years service.

Went to Titchwell RSPB in the evening and photographed Little Egrets and a Chinese Water Dear.

Little Egret, Titchwell RSPB.

Chinese Water Deer at Titchwell RSPB.
I have photographed this same deer before with scraggy ear!

Friday 27 May 2011

A Mixed Day!

Chiffchaff in the rain at Friary Hills, Blakeney.

Had intended (do this alot) to be at either Cley or Sheringham at dawn for a seawatch. All I know is when I looked at my alarm clock it said 7.45pm - funny that, being as I set the alarm for 4am!!!

I knew I had blown it with the seawatch, so stopped off first at Cleyspy and bought a Opticron Hide Clamp on a whim. Well not a whim really, its been something I have wanted for a while as I get a bit tired of balancing scope on a beanbag on the hide ledge! At Coastguards I bumped into James McC. who gave me a lovely long list of birds he had seen from 5am at Sheringham including loads of auks and loads of manx shearwaters. As I have said before 'early bird catches the worm' - I wasn't, so tough! James went off down the 'Point' so I decided that with his excellent track record of finding rares, it was not a good idea to leave Cley until he returned!!! It had been pouring with rain on route from King's Lynn and it was dull when I initially arrived at Cley, but the sun soon came out and it was wonderfully peaceful here. I got out my recently bought 'festival chair' from Tescos which is the best ever seawatching seat and scoped a more or less blank sea! Ok I did have a single gannet and lots of terns, but that was it! This little chair was so comfortable I sat there for about an hour and a half - you are only a few inches from the ground when sitting in it, so you feel like you almost sitting on the shingle and its a perfect height for the tripod. Had my lunch in the car overlooking the Eye Field and watched swallows on the fence wires. I started to question myself about my hide clamp buy. John F. turned up and suggested we go and look in Friary Hills, and I said I would catch him up - which I never did, sorry John! I went to Cleyspy at the visitor centre and took back the hide clamp kit and bought a Manfrotto clamp that attaches to the middle column of my tripod which works brilliantly and I was pleased I changed my mind. In the NWT Visitor Centre I chatted to Pat and was kindly introduced to 'Arnold' - yep 'Mr Great Snipe finder Arnold!!! Also Bernard Bishop said 'I hadn't realised you were Peter's daughter until the other day'.

My 'festival chair' from Tescos
ideal for calm seawatching conditions! (iphone)

Left Cley and went to Friary Hills. Why I decided to get out of the car when the heavens were about to open I really don't know, but I did and actually this was rewarded with with lots of birds! I bought the emergency waterproof camera bag stuffed in pocket and it wasn't long before I had to cover the camera! The rain was torrential. I had only got as far as the stone wall so decided to get under an oak tree and stood with my back against the trunk of the tree and just hoped I wouldn't get too drenched. This move definately paid off - whilst standing here I had at least 4 chiffchaffs feeding around me AND a Spotted Flycatcher!!! But I could not get even a record shot of the Spot fly when it stopped raining, however hard I tried! I had to stop here for a good half an hour before the rain stopped and then the sun came out. When I emerged from underneath the tree, there were chiffchaffs everywhere and lots of bird action. Walked all around the hills and up through the wood to the nursery but didn't find anything that I needed to phone RBA about! I would have phoned about the spot fly, but had no signal here anyway.

Chiffchaff in the rain at Friary Hills, Blakeney.

Foxgloves, Friary Hills. (iphone)

Walsey Hills NOA. Nothing in here of note

Daukes Hide, Cley NWT. At least 100+ Black tailed Godwits, 2 little gulls, LRPs and usual waders.

Swallow, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Shelduck, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Black-tailed Godwits - Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Little Gull, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Joined Andy J. and Eddie M to look for Nightjars on Salthouse Heath. We heard and saw two churring away!

Thursday 26 May 2011

No birding today!

Household chores (boring) and then drove to Norfolk Camera Centre at Dereham to ask advice about getting an old camera of mine fixed and also another one that is my mother's. They were extremely helpful and gave me loads of advice. The only bad thing was trying to find them - I don't like Dereham at all, I always get lost there! Then I went to Warehouse Express in Norwich to see if I could take father's digital compact back that he bought a while back now, but no joy there, understandably because of the date he bought it! Put the GPS on the iphone and drove home a different route, via Fakenham in lashing rain! Then drove to a friend's in Snettisham who is an ebay King to cheekily ask if he would buy me something on ebay if I gave him the cash, as didn't really want to set up an ebay account. My new Canon Extender Teleconverter EF 1.4x Mk III should be arriving on 2nd June! Will be selling off other extenders to fund this! I don't like buying things off the net and have never bought anything off ebay, but decided to take the risk with this, as its £144 cheaper than buying it elsewhere and yes I know its probably not a UK 'model' and I won't have the Canon Guarantee, but I do have a year's warranty from the seller and I don't see how I can really go wrong with a teleconverter?!!! (fingers crossed) The seller also has '98.8% Positive Feedback'. After having a nice chat with my friends Frank and Christina I went home and am now totally fed up with driving!

Easterlies on the way!

Next easterlies occur on 2nd June (SSE). Hopefully that will be updated nearer the time with 'heavy rain'!!!

My first picture in BIRDWATCH

One of my Citrine Wagtail pictures that I took at East Runton has been published in 'Birdwatch' Magazine this month. Julian B. of course (smiley face) has the MAIN picture though! One day.......

Wednesday 25 May 2011

'Meet me Halfway - right at the borderline'

Halfway House, Blakeney Point

Whenever I think of 'Halfway House' it makes me think of the Black-eyed Peas lyrics 'Can you meet me Halfway - right at the borderline?'

Anyway I woke up at 7.45am on a day when it was south/south east winds and I should have been up with the birds. But I wasn't. I had 'brunch'. Thats the posh term for getting up late and having breakfast isn't it!? Whilst having my breakfast I watched a whole family of starlings in a feeding frenzie on my bird table. Mummy starling was feeding the dried meal worms at huge rate of knots to starling juniors!

For me finding a MEGA means walking the Point, so off I go again to Cley!!! Stopped in Holt to do some banking on route. Bought an ice-cream. Went and said hello to Andy W. (who works in Holt) and then arrived at Cley at a ridiculously late time of..... actually I can't remember exactly - think it was after 2pm.

Off I started on a positive note as I had a feeling of 'good vibes' as I saw more birds then the last time I walked up here! Several reed buntings, hedge sparrows, linnets and lots of wood pigeons sitting around on the shingle all the way to Halfway House. I had several incredibly annoying LBJ's that magically disappeared in sueda bushes never to be seen again including one very interesting bird that looked like a hedge sparrow but wasn't - Alpine Accenter maybe! Two little ringed plovers were also seen and of course plenty of oystercatchers and terns all the way along. Good numbers of shelduck and avocets in the channel. At Halfway house I sat on the seat and enjoyed a coffee and a cheese scone with philadelphia and stem-ginger (lovelieeeeee). It was wonderfully peaceful here and I didn't pass a soul on the way there or back. I sat here for a good while, but only saw swallows, house martins, swifts and linnets. Nothing jumped out of the sueda bushes however much 'phishing' I did! I trudged back along the shingle but saw hardly anything on the way back.

The very second I arrived back at the car I wasn't even allowed to rest for a moment, as I had a message come through on my phone to say that an ORTOLAN BUNTING had been reported at the north end of the East Bank at 5pm!!! Drove straight to the East Bank carpark to get my space and then poured myself a coffee before I set off. Eddie M. pulled up next to me so we walked down the bank together along with a few others. Just what I needed, ANOTHER walk and MORE shingle! Two Linnets and a meadow pipit were seen at the north end of East Bank. 6 people including myself walked east at the end of the bank as far as 'Sea Pool' to find nothing. One of the men had already walked west with no results. The others walked back before I did and I ambled back by myself and then walked west for a short distance and then back along the East Bank.

Ended my evening sitting on the collapsing seat at Walsey Hills and hoped for something else colourful at the feeders, but only found chaffinches, greenfinches and hedge sparrows. The paths are all seriously overgrown at the moment but I am sure they will be done soon. A family of cute juv. blue tits were along the bottom path and a chiffchaff was singing.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Richard Richardson - memories

James on birdforum has just added a couple of pictures of RAR to my thread I started a few years ago and more stories have followed, see:
Anyone that has sent me emails recently - I will answer, honest, just busy birding at the moment combined with not enough sleep!!!

Cley again!

The Black-headed Gull who wondered why he had a mass of telescopes watching him. "No one's ever been interested in me before?"

A stunning, sunny day but no more rares today!!!

Arrived at Walsey Hills, far too late at 8.30am. Lots of people looking and hoping for the Rosefinch to appear again, but no luck. Two birders only had seen it very early morning - just after 5am I think they said. Report of the Bonapartes Gull again this morning but no one knew who and no one saw it again! I ambled around Cley all day which was lovely. Saw several people I hadn't seen for a while too including Kevin Shepherd later on in the day. I walked the East Bank and then east towards the 'sea pool'. The top ridge of shingle was lined with yellow horned poppies all the way along and it was an exhilarating walk in the wind and sun with sandwich and common terns streaming past west. A falcon was heading straight for me - so low it appeared to be skimming the shingle ridge - for a split second, my brain was thinking red footed falcon, until it clearly emerged as a male kestrel!!!! It had continued in the same pattern, as Sue Bryan who was a few hundred yards behind me had the same bird! Sue caught up with me and we sat on the shingle ridge together chatting about the rosefinch and stuff. Sue has lost loads of weight - well done Sue (take note Penny) Anyway got a phone call to say 'Bonaparte's Gull, Duck pond, Salthouse'!!!!!!!! BOTHER, talk about being a long way from the car! Sue and I then split as Sue wanted her camera which she had left in the car at East Bank carpark. I had my camera so I walked east and along the 'Iron Road' and along the road to the duck pond - loads of people here and after all that it was a black-headed gull (see pics above) - dodgy gulls, one of the reasons I don't love them! I don't think anyone is totally sure if there is/was a Bonaparte's gull at all, but we shall see! The ice-cream van left apparently, when all the birders/twitchers turned up - how stupid was that - he could have made a mint!!! A rat swam across the duck pond and was immediately confronted and hassled by a mallard! Also a carrian crow was carrying a large bird which I took photos of. Julian B. kindly gave me a lift back to the Dunn Cow pub - only wanted to go that far, as decided to walk the path which starts at the pub and crosses over the fields and eventually ends up at Walsey Hills. The walk was stunning, but only saw hirundines and pretty sure the same dark, male kestrel I had seen earlier! See picture below of the monument to Salthouse Mariners which is on this walk, from The Dunn Cow pub. The more I walk around Cley, the more I want to live here...... one day! At Walsey there were still a few people standing about, hoping the rosefinch would reappear. Left and ambled around Cley, fell asleep in the car for a hour at the bottom of Old Woman's Lane and then walked to Daukes's Hide. Eddie M. sent me a text seconds before I walked in the door to say 4 Little Stints on Pat's Pool and indeed there were and looked lovely in the evening sunshine along with ringed plovers and at least 2 little ringed plovers and a little gull amongst the usual waders. 15 Shelduck were on the Eye Field. Going back through Holt I stopped at the chip shop (no I won't have Sue's figure if I do this) for a bag of chips and then drove home.

Speckled Wood.

Carrion Crow carrying a starling, possibly?

Monument to Salthouse Mariners, created by Kevin Lee. (iphone)
Cley Marshes beyond. See also video below.

Sunset from the bridge just off the main road,
that leads down to the Hides at Cley NWT. (iphone)

Monday 23 May 2011

Stonking Male Rosefinch!!!

Walsey Hills NOA

Started off at Salthouse Heath at 8am looking for yesterday's Golden Oriole, but found out later that it had been seen at the Kelling 'Triangle' and I was looking in the wrong place. Only saw a few common whitethroats, linnets and a single yellowhammer here.

Had a look in Walsey Hills NOA, but didn't find anything of note!

Cley Coastguards - spent the rest of the morning attempting to photograph Swifts in strong winds!!! Big numbers of Swifts going through this morning.

Swifts, Cley Coastguards.

Sandwich Tern.

Swallow, Cley Coastguards carpark.

Cley Visitor Centre for soup and bread lunch.

Dauke's Hide, lots of hirundines going through and the two avocet chicks that I photographed before (see previous pictures) have got a bit bigger!

Left here and cruised along the coast road to the Citrine Wagtail field at East Runton - nothing here but woodpigeons. Felt really fed up with the strong winds and lack of rares!

Stopped at the ice-cream van at Salthouse for a cornetto.

Walsey Hills NOA - stopped here and was just about to go for a look round, when a big car pulled up and parked immediately next to me and everyone got out. So I waited for a while as like to look in Walsey by myself. Oh how I wish I had gone in there before those people!!!!!! Anyway sat in the car and had my cheese salad tea and about 10 minutes later I walked along the bottom track to meet Gary (local Cley birder who lives at Hilltop). We chatted briefly about lack of birds etc and then as the people who had gone into Walsey earlier were coming down the steps, I walked back to the car and left.

Little Ringed Plover, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Swallow, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

Little Egret just coming into land!

Little Egret, Daukes Hide, Cley NWT.

It was about to pour with rain so thought it would be a good time to go to Dauke's Hide again. I just made it before the rain fell. 2 Little ringed plovers close to the hide. A huge plane was doing very odd movements on the horizon and was fairly close, lights on/off, going west, going east, climbing steeply - I thought it was going to crash in the sea! Andy J. joined me and the rain came down and 2 Greenshank appeared and also 2 Med. Gulls. We were hoping for the Bonaparte's Gull to drop in! Anyway Gary who I had seen earlier came into the hide and I found out later he had come to look for me especially - thanks Gary! to tell me that the people who had gone into Walsey before me, had photographed a red bird feeding on the ground and showed him on their camera as they didn't know what it was - it was A STONKING MALE ROSEFINCH!!!!!!!!!!! Noooooooooo!!!!!!! Gary had spent a while looking for it after that, but hadn't seen it. So off all three of us went to see if we could find it. Sod the gull, I wanted that rosefinch! We stood at Walsey overlooking the feeders and nothing. I walked through the centre path and back round the bottom - as I climbed the steps to get back to the top again, Andy J. said quietly 'its here Pen' - OMG and there it was, absolutely stunning bird. BUT it was incredibly quick and VERY mobile, feeding on the ground for sometimes only a second, not quite long enough to photograph at all. I have no phone signal at Walsey Hills at all, so someone else put the news out to RBA and several local birders turned up quite quickly! The bird teased people terribly, flitting across left and right, landed for a nano of a second before flying under cover again!!!

Meanwhile reports of the Bonoparte's Gull were being reported again on the marsh at Salthouse (big area)!!!

Drove home late!


Sunday 22 May 2011

Upgrading my iphone

Where I was going today didn't work out, so I will try again tomorrow! In fact a Monday will be a much better day to go - less people - will explain more when I return on Monday evening!

Currently upgrading my iphone 3GS to the new iOS 4.3.3 software update. I have been putting off doing this for ages as whenever you do something like this, there is always a problem. It is taking forever to 'back up' my phone before installing the software! The only reason I am doing this is to see if the reception on my phone improves!

Wasted the rest of the day. Delivered something to my parents and went home via Choseley and took a few landscape photos.