Monday, 29 November 2010

Had a garden tick this morning in the rather surprising form of 2 Bewick's swans (84). They came out of the mist and headed west over the garden. Not much else about despite the snow and cold temperatures.

Friday, 26 November 2010

With our first snow on the ground this morning I decided not to join all the idiots on the road and go out for a walk locally. There is a good circular walk that follows the roads between here and the Creakes where there is lots of good looking habitat. Many of the fields have game covers and there are lots of small pockets of woodland. It looks good for thrushes, finches and raptors.

It was quiet to start with and at the first farm where there are sometimes tree sparrows, they were working and nothing was there. It felt quiet so I was surprised (but not unexpected) when 13 waxwings flew overhead. I managed to see the perched in a hedge but they soon flew north. More unexpected was 2 lapland buntings overhead with a small flock of skylarks. On the 'inward' leg of the walk I found a large stubble field with over 200 skylarks but unfortunatly you could only see them in flight so anything could be hiding amongst them. 8 tree sparrows not far from home would have made a nice addition to the garden list.

With the roads clearing and the prospect of poor weather over the next few days, I decided to head to Thornham to look for the Northern harrier. As I arrived the bird was distantly hunting around the Thornham Point bushes with a couple of marsh harriers and a buzzard. The viewing was cut short by the arrival of a snow storm so I headed home.

Parrinder hide in the snow and a blizzard

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The record has fallen!!!

While talking to some visitors on the main path this morning, something caught my eye over the reedbed. It turned out to be a cracking rough-legged buzzard (207) being mobbed by a couple of marsh harriers. Unfortunatly I didn't have my radio on me as as I tried to get my mobile out to phone the office I lost the bird. A few people were now stopping and after about 10mins I spotted the bird heading west towards Thornham with a marsh harrier still in pursuit.
A couple of the people asked what other interesting birds were around. I said that there were lots of marsh harriers about and looked through my bins. I said that I had 4 in the same view when I realised that the closer one was a hen harrier. They were very pleased as they hadn't seen one before. I then realised that it was the probable Northern harrier and managed to get good scope views as it hunted over the reedbed for about 10mins.
This was the first time I have seen it for a couple of weeks and with all the info now on the net, I was able to study it a bit more. The primary pattern is smoething that can only be done from photos but I did the narrow dark bars that run along the underwing coverts to add to the heavily streaked head and orangy, unstreaked underparts. The bird headed off inland but was seen again later in the afternoon.

Seen to be doing well for waxwings again at the moment. As I was driving through Docking this morning, I noticed a bird flying ahead. I was sure it was a waxwing and managed to pull over. As I opened the door I could hear it calling and got my bins on it.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pretty good day today.

Started with 9 waxwings over the garden as I was leaving for work so I decided to drive around the estate to look for them. Found 5 in some trees near the house but a sparrowhawk went through and they buggered off.
A radio message of a 'white redpoll' feeding with the twite on the brackish marsh got our attention so Rob and I headed down to check it out. As soon as we arrived the bird was showing and even with the naked eye it looked very pale. Our initial thoughts were that is could be an arctic redpoll and that we need to get some photos. The bird was very pale with a pink flush to the breast. However, as we watched the bird we were then unsure of it's ID but 'put it out' as a possible arcitc. There were a couple of things that didn't seen right, especially the rump. Arcitc redpolls should have a large white unstreaked rump and only light flank streaking. This bird had dark uppertail coverts, the lower rump was pink and unstreaked but the upper rump had fine streaking. After sending the photos to someone for advice, we changed the ID to a male mealy
redpoll although a very pale one. As someone I know once said...'it's an educational bird!'

3 barn owls on the way home was nice

Monday, 22 November 2010

Missed the king eider again!
Down at Minsmere for the weekend and failed again to connect with the eider and the waxwings in Eastbridge so had to make do with a pint of Broadside in the Eels Foot - can't all be bad then! Did get the compensation of an adult Caspian gull and 3rd winter yellow legged gulls on the scrape.

Waxwing over the garden this morning while feeding the chickens so hopefully the predicted cold snap may bring one into my nets, fingers crossed.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The record is in sight.

Had a bit of a jammy day and I know that others who are yearlisting are trying to ban me from going out of the office.
While I was testing the new windows in Parrinder Hide there was a message on the radio to say that someone had just seen a great white egret on the saltmarsh. Now this is one of the most mis-identified species on the reserve and usually turns out to be a little so I didn't really take any notice and continued with what I was doing.
About 30mins later I was heading back to the main path when the radio went again to say that the bird was showing. As I got to the main path I could see the bird about half way out to the concrete building and even with bins I could see the yellow bill. A quick look through someones scope and it was on the list.
This has equalled my record of 206 and was also my 256th species for the reserve.

All I need now is some of the commoner species to show themselves...missed a flock of 25 whooper swans yesterday!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Ooops....maths was never my strong point!!!
While putting my list onto a spreadsheet I realised that I had added you my list. Thankfully I have missed out several species and am now on 205 needing only 2 species to beat the 206 from 2007. Still need whooper swan, black-throated diver and purple sandpiper, to name a few, which could all be about in the last few weeks.

Ringing in the garden this month have produced an unusual number of coal tits with 11 trapped so far. Another amazing species has been goldfinch. Since I started ringing in the garden in late June I have rung 105 with only 1 being re-trapped! Two interesting birds caught so far have been a great tit that Kevin rang in his Brancaster garden earlier in the summer and a blue tit from an unknown location.

Egyptian goose over the garden this morning was a new species taking the garden list to 83. 4 mute swans yesterday was only the second record.

Monday, 8 November 2010

After the low of missing a Pallas's warbler on the reserve yesterday afternoon, I jammed in on it this morning.
With calm conditions I decided to spend the rest of Sunday (after my WeBS count) ringing in the garden. It was fairly quiet but a collared dove and 7 (5 re-traps) coal tits provided some interest, then my voicemail rang. It was Dave saying that a Pallas's warbler had just been found in the sueda bushes along the main path. Nets were packed away sharpish and I swiftly made my way to the reserve. Once on-site the bird was still showing and I met Dave on his way back having seen it. As I got there, people didn't seem to be watching the bird and were now looking at a short-eared owl - a nice bird but not the warbler. Nobody seemed to know where it had gone and by dusk I gave up!

The harrier sp, possibly northern, was around at the roost again and although nothing will ever be confirmed without good photos, it does look interesting. The bird is very orangy below with only light flank streaking and a very heavily streaked head making it look 'hooded' from a distance. It may only be a hen but it certainly has caused some interest and debate.

Back to the warbler. I was in the office on the phone when one of the volunteers was trying to get hold of me to say that the bird had been re-located. Thankfully (or not) my phonecall was about a problem with the new hide and I had to go and sort it out. The bird had been in the bushes by Island Hide and as I got there it wasn't showing! A small bird then moved through the bushes but never clear enough to get anything on it. At the end of the bushes it flew to the reed edge. I was able to look through a scope, central crown stripe, yellow rump, PALLAS'S WARBLER (201) finally. By now it was very windy, the bird fed along the reeds and then moved into another clump of willows. Even better news was that it was a reserve tick (255) and my 5th of the year.

All we need to do now is pin down this harrier.

Friday, 5 November 2010

200 up this morning!!

Over the last few days it has been frustrating sitting in the office listening to the radio crackling into life to report another good bird out on the reserve.
With 7 shorelark on the brackish marsh yesterday afternoon I decided to come in early to see it I could catch up with them. I was the first person on site so I headed straight down to the beach. After a few minutes I noticed 3 larks flying near the far creek but they were too far to tell which. I started to walk towards them and after about 100m flushed a bird that I hadn’t seen. It flew onto the strandline and was a cracking shorelark (199). Later in the day, all 7 were relocated feeding near the tanks but were very flighty.
As I walked back I decided to have a look through the gulls (someone has to!) on the fresh marsh and was very shocked to see a juvenile dotterel (200) on the edge of the golden plover flock. I managed to phone Dave but there was no-one else to tell. As one of the hide contractors drove along the edge of the fresh marsh, the plover flock took off and started to circle over the lagoons. A birder came out of Island Hide but hadn't seen the bird on the deck but he did manage to see it as it circled before heading inland. With no work being carried out on the hide this weekend, hopefully the flock will settle down.

The possible Caspian gull from the other evening was one after trawling books on gulls and the internet and Dave had two birds this evening including a bird that was also present briefly on Wednesday.

All I need to do now is see as many species as possible in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

After big invasions in the last two autumns, I couldn't really not go and see the glossy ibis that has been at Welney for the last few weeks especially as it was a British tick (391) for me.
After a couple of hours ringing, things had gone quiet, so I decided to make the most of the decent weather.

Got to Welney and the bird was showing on the far side of its favoured field but according to other birders present, it had been much closer. After about half and hour the bird flew towards the road and started to feed near a small pool. What was surprising, was the bird favoured feeding in the longer rank grass rather that around the edge of the pool. This habit made it a nightmare to get any photos.
We a load of gulls about yesterday afternoon I decided to try the roost again today. Things were scuppered slightly when I got a call from a friend to say he was watching 7 shorelark on the beach and that they had just flown to the saltmarsh. Despite walking to Thornham Point and back, I couldn't relocate them. This made me later getting to the fresh marsh but there were still 4 yellow legged gulls and an adult med gull present. Another 'yellow-legged' gull was also present and looked good for Caspian. Not being an expert, I text Dave who came straight down. He agreed the bird looked good but a trawl through the literature tonight may help us to pin it down, fingers crossed...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Getting close now!
A corn bunting west over the brackish marsh on Saturday morning and 3 adult yellow-legged gulls on the fresh marsh this afternoon have taken the yearlist on to 197.