Thursday, 29 April 2010

What a cracking day. Started off well with a drake garganey and the red necked grebe on the grazing meadow and a reeling gropper near Fen Hide while out collecting some mud samples from the lagoons. Got back to the office and emptied the moth trap to find this cracking emperor moth in the bottom.

On my way back from checking a bittern report I was stopped by a lady who said that a Siberian chiffchaff had been singing on the Meadow Trail and a tour leader had heard it with a group. I walked around the dragonfly pool where there was a chiffchaff. The bird was not singing and didn't look grey as I would have expected for a sibe.

After lunch, Mark Golley came into the VC to say that he had just been up for the Iberian chiffchaff and although he hadn't heard it singing it looked very good for one. The lady had earlier mis-heard what had been said!! Got the gen from Mark and headed straight around the see the bird. With Mark's description the bird was quite easy to find in the same place. The bird was greener above than a normal chiff with cleaner white underparts and a buff wash to the flanks, the undertail was washed buff and it had a strong super but I still didn't hear it sing.

Checked the bird out after work but although it wasn't singing it was still present. Walked down to the fresh marsh with Rob where the drake garganey was sleeping on one of the islands. After about 10 mins, 3 terns came in over the fresh marsh and started to display which turned out to be Arctics. For the next 20 mins they circled over the lagoon display flighting and even landing on one the islands to display to each other. Eventually they were joined by a common tern and the 4 birds flew around together showing the differences between the species well.

On the way back I got a call from Dave to say that there was a bee-eater flying west over the carpark!! One of the locals had picked it up and phoned Dave at home. Rob and I scanned towards Thornham but it was still hawking over the trees and it looked like it was looking for somewhere to land as the rain had started again. We got back to the trees to see the bird showing well hawking over the tops. After 10 mins, the bird decided to leave and flew powerfully west towards Thornham, Dave arrived 2 mins late - doh!

Two Titchwell ticks (chiffchaff and bee-eater) takes my reserve list to 252 and the yearlist to 163 - what a top day.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Only had a few hours ringing before work this morning but it was definatly worth it. Final totals of the morning were 36 re-traps and 30 ringed including 19 blackcap, 2 chiffchaff, 1 willow warbler and a cracking adult male turtle dove. Also present were 2 tawny owl, med gull and 8 fiedlfare.
Added ring ouzel (154) to the yearlist with a female on the grazing marsh this morning and also flushed a male from the side of the road at Choseley on the way back from the post office.
male turtle dove

Friday, 23 April 2010

Crikey, lots can happen in a week and its amazing what a change in the weather can do. Bit of a manic week with 4 early morning of surveys but it has been worth it.

Last weekend was a whistle-stop family trip down to Dorset that provided some new spring migrants. Warm weather on Saturday had 10+ buzzards and at least 3 sparrowhawks over the garden during the afternoon. A trip to Arne on Sunday morning was good with loads of hirundines moving south, 10 whimbrel and a brief singing gropper. Apart from a new reception building and trail, not much had changed since I last visited over 10 years ago!

With all the new birds arriving during the week, the yearlist has gone through the 150 barrier with greenshank (153) on the saltmarsh today. Other highlights from the week were 2 turtle doves in the dunes, cuckoo at Thornham Point and 2 swifts over today. Best bird of the week was a stunning male Montagu's harrier over east yesterday afternoon. The bird was over the reedbed before quickly gaining height and heading off east.

3 robin young fledged earlier in the week and the great tits are incubating. Blue tits have been checking the other box so hopefully they might do something.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Now getting fed up with these northerly winds. Nothing is moving but at least the sun is shining.
Whimbrel on the fresh marsh this afternoon and a 2nd green sand is now around.

Blackcap singing in the neighbours garden this evening and the great tits have now got 2 eggs. The 3 robins are growing fast and now have crazy punk hair!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

You know when spring has arrived as the poxy wind moves to the north, migration stops and you wish you have the better weather we had in February!!
Grim day with very few new birds around. Did manage to catch up with the 1st summer little gull (139) that has been around since the weekend.

Male brambling on the garden feeders this morning was only the 3rd record of the year.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Had a good day birding today and I didn't even leave the garden!

Although there was a cold NE wind blowing, the skies were clear so I tried to keep my eyes up as much as poss to watch for raptors. As is warmed up, 2 common buzzards went west and at just before midday, a red kite circled for about 5mins before gliding off east. Managed to get a couple of (very) record shots. 1st record for the garden and species #79.

Also a couple of sparrowhawks through including one nailing a juv blackbird in the neighbours garden. Robins have been busy feeding their young and a pair of great tits are now building in the tit box.

Had a good morning ringing yesterday with 29 new birds and 49 re-traps. Now many of the tits are starting to breed the total numbers are beginning but there was plenty of quality. Highlights were 6 blackcap ringed and a re-trap from last year, 1 chiffchaff, female pied wagtail ringed, and a re-trap willow warbler. Amazingly, this bird had been ringed on exactly the same day last year! Also around the site was a late redwing, 2 tawny owl and a med gull.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Gannet, green sandpiper, green woodpecker and yellow wagtail added today taking the total to 138.

Robins in the garden are now feeding 3 young

Thursday, 8 April 2010

High pressure, light southerly wind and no cloud = raptor migration. A promising day for birds of prey moving proved to be the case.

A lunchtime trip to 'the hump' produced a steady movement of marsh harriers west. In an hour, at least 10 birds passed over, most of which were seen off by the local birds. Both 'resident' males were spending most of their time up high skydancing to move them on. Several small groups of sand martins and swallows though.

Just after 3 came the (almost expected) radio message of an osprey flying west. A quick dash out to the front of the visitor centre and a bit more radio chat produced the bird (134) circling overhead. The bird was low enough for the 30 or so visitors to see before it circled higher and drifted off west.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Spring is springing and the migrants are now flooding in.
Over the last couple of days, with the wind swinging back to the south, there has been a big arrival of migrants. Yesterday evening there was a good number of swallow and sand martins moving west with at least 50 birds roosting overnight. Both willow warbler (130) and blackcap (131) were added yesterday but more numbers were in this morning. At least 15 blackcaps and 2 willow warblers were around the Meadow Trail and an elusive firecrest near Fen Hide.
An early start this morning (04:30) monitoring bitterns paid off with the usual male booming at the east end of the reedbed but a 2nd bird twice in flight was more interesting - hopefully its a female.
10 female/immature marsh harriers left the reedbed at dawn and headed off west. Probably migrant birds that stopped off overnight. Bearded tits were showing well early on with 2 males within 10m of the path. While surveying there was a reasonable amount of visible migration (birds moving west along the coast). In 2 hours, 200+ woodpigeon, 4 lesser redpoll (132), 10 jackdaw and 5 stock doves were noted.

In the garden, the blackbirds managed to lay 2 eggs before the nest got raided but the robins are still incubating and should be hatching soon.

Monday, 5 April 2010

I have been keeping my fingers crossed that the pallid swift and lesser kestrel would stay in Suffolk until this weekend as we were heading to Minsmere for some birthday festivities. Unfortunatly the kestrel had not bee seen since Wednesday but we managed to get some great views of the swift at Kessingland.

The weather en-route was very dodgy with heavy rain, hail and beautiful sun and we wondered what would greet us when we arrived. After driving around (the wrong bit) Kessingland, we eventually found the right track that led us to the spot. Got out of the car and asked a birder where best place to see the bird was. He just pointed up and it was flying about over our heads! The bird was feeding over the edge of a sewage works and fishing pits giving good views although not coming down to low levels. I did manage to get a few shots but this one is the best and did need some editing. Against the grey clouds the overall brown plumage stood out but it was very difficult to see the scaly underparts and I only did see them briefly once. After about 20mins a large storm moved in from the south and the bird moved away before it arrived. Male chiffchaff and blackcap were also singing at the site.

Everyone was out by the time we made it to Minsmere, so we decided to go and have a look for bitterns at Island Mere. As soon as we got into the hide a bird was showing the reeds to the left of the hide. The bird was just back from the edge and obscured but did come out into full view after about 30mins. With the hide full, as soon as it appeared the noise from everyone calling it out pushed it back into cover. Consolation was a cracking summer-plumaged water pipit feeding just outside the hide.

I decided to go back early on Sunday to see it I could get any photos when it was quieter. Got to the hide just before 7am and the light was not good. There was a thick fog and you couldn't see the other side of the mere. 3 bitterns were booming (Adam heard 8 earlier) and one in flight briefly but none showing. Before the fog cleared, 5 feral barnacle geese flew by and at least 3 med gull were flying around in the fog. Once the fog cleared, a pair of little grebe started to display and nest build, a snipe appeared and the marsh harriers became active.

common snipe, barnacle goose, male marsh harrier