Sunday, 18 February 2018

(Lifer ) Spotted Sandpiper + Willow tit in the Midlands.

A long drive to get me a Lifer at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham by the river Trent. Jimmy & Brian only needed the Spotted Sandpiper for a year tick but for me it would be a first one seen.
After arrival at the water sports centre it's not a long walk down the side of the White water rapids to reach marker 750 on the rowing lake to stand on the bridge looking over the calmer water at the end of the course.
We had been told the bird was around so just a question of waiting & it showed after about 20 minutes as it walked about on the side path to give very close views,it did fly off from time to time but always came back to more or less the same place.
We all picked up a year tick when we see a Common Sandpiper not to far away from the bridge.
We are told of a Long-tailed Duck on the Rowing lake & we find it with ease, it is not needed for a tick but a good chance of a close photo.
Some fellows that we have meet before at other locations tell us where to find Willow Tits not to many miles away so it's off to look for the place.
On route we decide to pop into Kelham Bridge as that was a lot nearer to us & we have been there many times & been lucky enough to see the odd Willow Tit.
In the hide the feeders are full & lots of Tits fly in to feed but after a good time the Willow Tit never came to play.
 We do pick up a year tick when we see 3 Male & 3 female Bullfinches in the back bushes so not a wasted trip.
But it's Willow Tit that we want while we up here so we head to Lea Marston that is the place we were told about & after a couple of wrong turns we find the hide we need & we see 2 Willow Tits within minutes of arrival.
Another couple of new places visited & we all get four ticks for the day & a added lifer for me.

The Spotted Sandpiper

The Long-tailed Duck
Spot the difference  Brian's photo

Monday, 12 February 2018

What a Boar,New Forest + Goshawk & Penduline Tit.

An early start to drive the 140 odd miles to Gloucestershire & we pull  into the small car park at Plock Court Longford. It's a large recreation field but to the left in the corner is a small pond not much bigger then a large puddle with Reedmace and that is where we head to join a couple of people already watching our target bird. A Penduline Tit sitting in a small bush next to the pond sitting up & showing really well, a nice looking bird that gives us all an easy year tick.
We spend a good time watching the bird fly over to a hedge row then back to feed on the rushes for really close views of a cracking little bird.
Off now to the Forest of Dean about 30 minutes away, but before we get to the view point at New Fancy we see 4 wild Boar.
Despite many visits to the area we have never managed to find any, so out of the car in a rush to get photos & watch them feeding. I won't say we got chased by any but we did move a bit quick when they came our way.
 At Fancy we get to see one Goshawk along with a Raven then two appear to give a good display.
A few more Ravens show before another two Goshawk fly across.
Some fellow at the view point had just come from seeing a Shrike & he tried to tell us where it was,we set off to look for it but we went wrong, we walked 20 minutes one way then the same the other but not seeing anybody about we give it up as a bad job.

The Penduline Tit
A cracking day birding with the added bonus of the Boars spoilt only by a long delay on the M25 at Chorlywood on the way home.

Below is a brief video clip of the encounter.

One of the Boars this is when we moved a bit quick.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Nice first visit to Sevenoaks wildlife reserve.

Jimmy & I head off to Sevenoaks in Kent where a Black-necked Grebe has been seen for nearly a month now.
We are paying our first visit here & we find it to be a very nice reserve indeed,the Grebe has been seen mostly on east lake & that is where we start our search,it is quite busy with loads of Lapwings & Teal along with many Great-crested Grebe, a large flock of over 30 Greylag Geese fly in but we see no sign of the Grebe.
So we head round & go in a couple of hides still with no luck, we then try Tower hide & it's only minutes before we have another year tick as the Grebe swims about around one of the islands to our right.A walk along the river bank where we see a Sparrowhawk perched in a tree & on a closer look we find another one sitting a few feet away.
Walking around the paths we see over 20 Siskin plus flocks of Long-tailed Tits the odd Song Thrush but despite a fellow birder telling us he had just seen 2 Bullfinch we never found them.
A really nice morning at a lovely reserve gets us only one year tick but well worth the visit.
The first Sparrowhawk
Same one
The second Hawk just above the other one
Map of the reserve
Visitor centre
Tower hide Grebe seen from here
Black-necked Grebe

Monday, 5 February 2018

Cranes & Short-eared Owl Eldernell Cambridgeshire

Cambridge is our destination today, with not a lot of shortie activity at our usual places it's a fair bet we will see some at Eldernell.
Arriving just after first light there are a few cars in the car park. Looking out over the Nene Washes we see plenty of Buzzards a couple of Marsh Harriers loads of Lapwings with large flocks of Golden Plover,it's very cold & the Owls are not playing ball.
A birder gets us onto 3 common Cranes for a year tick for jimmy & myself & over the time spent here we see at least 9 Cranes.
Then Jimmy finds a Shortie perched by a gate, it's a long way over but good scope views had of it for a good tick.
Later on everybody but myself gets a close view of another Owl on the path right in front of us, it never hung about for more than a few seconds but they all got on it.
So with a good couple of ticks in the bag we head down the A1 & stop off at RSPB Sandy.
Just hanging around the car park feeders gets Brian a tick when we see over 20 Brambling along with Greenfinch loads of Chaffinch a single Song Thrush a few Nuthatch & Treecreppers plus the odd Coal Tit.
 A walk down to the hide gets much the same plus a single Great spotted Woodpecker.  We bump into Steve G while here always nice to meet up with him.
Just a few birds at Sandy

Friday, 26 January 2018

Good day in Suffolk Glossy Ibis + all the Redpolls & Bewick's

Off to Suffolk for the day,Jimmy & I have waited for the weather to improve & Thursday is going to be rain free,so after a couple of hours we arrive at Hazelwood Common just after 8 am to hopefully catch up again with the Redpolls for a new year tick.
As we park it's a shock to see that the field where they have been feeding for the last few weeks has been turned over.
A walk down the side of the field soon dispelled our fear when we pick out the Arctic Redpoll in the bushes with many Lesser Redpoll, it took a little while to locate the Mealy but we found two as the flock fly over to the ploughed field to still feed there.
A walk down the track to the hide over looking Hazelwood Marsh only gets us one tick with a Snipe.
A nice first time visit to this Marsh & it is full of bird life, nothing that we needed for a tick but we do get to see a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Crow as it flies right over our head for a great view of it. A fellow birder tells us there is a Glossy Ibis at Eastbridge so although not needed for a year tick having seen one at Abbott's hall farm last week this one gets us a much better view.
Heading off to Dunwich Heath we divert to look for the 9 Bewick's Swans on a field off Lymballs Lane we drive all around the area but can't find them, so off to tick Dartford Warbler that we saw within minutes of arrival at the heath.
On the way to Minsmere we try again for the Swans but still no luck.
At Minsmere a Marsh Tit is seen at the feeders for a tick. We spend some time in the Bittern hide but no sign of it but we do pick up a tick with Bearded Tit. A walk down to a couple of hides is a bit disappointing with not much about at all.
Dartford Warbler
At Minsmere just nice
Before we head home we try one more time down Lymballs Ln & this time we find the nine Bewick's & a bonus tick when a Woodcock flies up from the grass verge. So a nice day & we end up with 9 year ticks.
Glossy Ibis

Arctic Redpoll


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Little Bunting Walthamstow

On leaving Brian last night we had no plans to go anywhere because of the bad weather forecast.
So a bit of a surprise when my phone goes & it's Brian who is on the way over to pick us up for a short trip to Walthamstow Reservoir to look for the Little Bunting that the local birders had got yesterday.
It's only a short drive & we arrive in the car park to be told it's not open till 9.30 but with our permit it's all go.
only a short walk to East Warwick res where we meet up with Stuart & Harry. We scan from the North bank of East Warwick where we are joined by a few more birders,a Sparrow Hawk perched in a large tree above the bushes we are looking in stops any real activity, but we need the Hawk for a year tick & we do get a great view in the scope of it.
After a while the Hawk flies off & some Buntings start to fly into the bushes but it's a good hour before Brian spots what he thinks might be our bird & we all move back down to the path & yes Brian has it in the scope sitting in the bush to give everybody a great view.
Brian is the only one of us to bring his camera & he gets a record shot for us but the light is very bad.
 On the way out we pop up to the other reservoir for Brian to get a year tick when we see a male Scaup. So a nice easy couple of ticks & back home before 10 am for breakfast.
Brian's record shot
Last year's Great Barford bird
2015 Cardiff bird that we all saw.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Capel Fleet & Shellness gets us 7 ticks.

We pick up Brian & head off to Capel Fleet in Kent arriving at first light, we stop half way down the track to watch a Barn Owl flying low across the field a good start to our day.
At the mound  a single Hen Harrier is soon spotted along with many Marsh Harrier. The place is full of flocks of Linnet & Corn Bunting on the wires & dropping onto the road to drink gives us good entertainment for the whole time we are here.
 A dead Swan brings the Hooded Crow into eat for a good year tick.Buzzards are seen at regular intervals one looking very light but we soon ruled out it being the Rough leg.
On leaving the hill we stop half way up the exit road to scan some Geese & get lucky when we get 3 year ticks with many White-fronted Geese along with a few Barnacle Geese & we also spot 3 Whooper Swans.
It's off to Shellness to scan for Lapland Bunting. A walk along the sea wall gets Jimmy & I a couple of ticks when we see a single Knot & loads of Sandling. All along the beach on all the posts the place is alive with Redshank, Dunling,Oystercatcher,Turnstone & one Grey Plover.
We scan the opposite fields but it is hard work finding the Bunting, it takes more than an hour before Brian gets us onto a single Lapland Bunting & a few Snow Buntings to give us 7 day ticks.
Before going home we pop into Oare Marsh but the Dowitcher is not seen despite it being reported at the place we are scanning,still that's life I suppose. A really good day's birding spoilt a little bit by wasting our time at Oare when we should have called it a day & gone home.

The Knot
Some of the Birds on the beach
A Kestrel feeding on the Swan
The light coloured Buzzard