Saturday, 31 December 2011

Not much of a birdy Christmas period I have to say, but I have managed to get out a few times. Managed to dip on the lesser white fronted goose in the Broads but the fact that it was blowing a gale and the birds were keeping low in the vegetation didn't help. Having said that, it was good to get decent views of the taiga bean geese to compare to the tundras I have seen recently and there was at least 170 white fronts about. Ended to day with the starling roost (40,000+) at Strumpshaw.
Ringing sessions have been busy although we are not getting many new birds now. Two sessions over the last week have produced over 150 re-traps but only 28 new birds! The highlight of yesterday's session was 8 re-trap bullfinches.
Finally go round to looking for the possible homeryi great grey shrike near Morrisons this morning. A cracking little bird showing pretty well. With my limited knowledge, the bird looks to have all the necessary features quoted in the Shrikes book. In flight it showed a large amount of white in the tail and wing and when it was perched you could see the pale uppertail coverts, pale scapulars and large wing patch. The eye mask appeared narrower and the was a small pale supercillium above the eye mask and over the bill. The underparts looked warm at times although the light wasn't great.
poss homeryi great grey shrike (top 5) compared to a nominate bird (bottom 1) I saw just before Christmas. You can see the larger whire wing patch and pale uppertail coverts.
Despite the bird showing well and there being plenty of room, this twat still decided that he would move closer and stand right in front of me! Reminded me why I can't be arsed with twitching these days.

Friday, 23 December 2011

2nd time luck, managed to catch up with the western sand at Cley this morning. Got to Cley at about 9am and was greated with all the birds from the scrapes in the air and I could hear dunlin calling in flight, not the best start.
Straight around to teal hide and sure enough the bird had been flushed by a marsh harrier and was currently missing. Disturbance was high and as soon as the bird settled, a peregrine went through followed by a sparrowhawk! As the birds dropped back in the sandpiper flew in with a dunlin and landed on one of the back islands but toook off straight away and disappeared. After an age, the bird re-appeared at the back of the scrape but apart from being very small, not much else could be seen as it kept going behind the island. I decided to move to the hide on the south side to see if it was showing better. The island was much closer and the bird was feeding along the edge with the dunlin. I have followed the id dedate on BirdForum and it was certainly tricky to see all the features. The bird was a bit too distant to digiscope but here are some, rather poor, attempts.
If you look (very!) closely, you can just see the orange fringing to the upperparts
Very small compared to dunlin
Great grey shrike on the way home.
These shots came out OK considering they were digiscoped resting on a beanbag on the car window and not using a tripod.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Pre-Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho visit to Minsmere allowed a few hours birding amongst fighting with the boys and trying to keep them entertained.
The Levels was the area and the bean goose flock was the target seeing as Adam hand't managed to get down to see them yet. Unfortunatly they were nowhere to be seen so we had to make do with 68 white-fronts, peregrine, bittern and 2 fly-over Bewick's swans. A quick look at the Scrape at dusk produced an adult Caspian gull.
Two future BBRC chairmen checking the finer plumage details on a peregrine!
Caspian gull on the Scrape taken at nearly 4pm
Konik ponies used to graze the Minsmere reedbed - always great to see up-close
Our hen harrier roost count this afternoon produced the goods despite the poor weather conditions. Standing in the rain for 2 hours is not really my idea of fun but it was worth it. The count ended with 2 ringtail hens (only 1 roosted), 25 marsh harrier, peregrine and 9 white-fronted geese on the Gypsy Lane grazing marsh.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Just heard back from the BTO with the details of the ringed herring gull (below) that I found at Brancaster Harbour. The bird was ringed by the Landguard Ringing Group as a nestling on July 1st 1995 at Orfordness in Suffolk. That means that the bird has moved 117 km from its ringing site and was found 5989 days after ringing. I am glad I made the effort to read the ring!
Coue's Arctic redpoll at Titchwell taken yesterday by Andy Thompson. The bird has gone very elusive probably due to the windy conditions and has only been seen briefly once (when the photo was taken) in the last 3 days. It is not helped by the tail being nearly fully grown again making it a bit trickier to locate.

Cracking 1st winter Caspian gull that has been on the fresh marsh intermittently this week. I lied the other day saying that I hadn't seen one before. Well I had found one at Blackbrough End tip last year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Maybe I should have gone and fought with the crowds last weekend to see the Western sandpiper as I managed to dip the bird at the weekend!!
It was a mixed start to the weekend as all of our nets were frozen due to afternoon rain and the an overnight frost so we headed to Kevin's mums garden in Titchwell village. Despite is being bloody freezing we managed to get 21 new birds including a young male sparrowhawk. I opened the nets in the garden in the afternoon (the only still day this month so far) but didn't catch much.
Sunday was earmarked for the trip to Cley but it didn't get started very early. By the time we got there the bird hadn't been seen for a couple of hours. We spent a load of time in the hides (probably the worst in the Western Paleartic) but there was no sign of the dunlin flock. It did drop in briefly when we were in another hide and then flew towards Arnolds Marsh. We walked around to check but the was only 4 dunlin. 4 snow buntings east was a bonus but didn't really make up for missing the sandpiper. Hopefully it will stay around until the festive break.
Had my first 1st winter Caspian gull in the fresh marsh roost this evening. A cracking bird and the head/bill profile was much more distinct than I was expecting. It was also seen on Monday so hopefully it will put in a regular appearance.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Almost a year late but my 2010 yearlist now has a new addition.

Last November a pale redpoll was found with the twite on the brackish marsh and the id features led me to say that it was a mealy. Unknown to me, the bird was seen by some people far more experienced that myself and it had been submitted as an Arctic.

Fart-forward a year and I was talking to Andy Stoddart this morning about the Coues's Arctic redpoll that is about at the moment and it was he who had identified last years bird. Andy has kindly commented on my photos and I am now able to change the identification and increase my 2010 yearlist to 210.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Unfortunatly, some numpty in high-vis managed to cut through the phonelines at the end of last week hence no recent updates.
I was nice to get the whole weekend out birding (once the windscreen cracked was repaired) and although not amazing I caught up with some decent birds. The only place I didn't go was Cley. I just couldn't be bothered with fighting to get into the hides with a bunch of idiots but will probably go this weekend when it is quieter.
Saturday started of with a tour of the back roads looking for goose flocks. They seen to be flighty this year but I did manage to find a small flock containing 2 tundra beans. Two adult med gulls were the highlights at Brancaster Harbour but I did manage to get a few photos of some of the gulls and waders that were present. The rest of the day was taken up around Gypsy Lane (2 barnacle and 2 white-fronted geese) and a walk out to Holme and back producing 2 short-eared owl and 19 marsh harrier.
Birds @ Brancaster Harbour
Ringed herring gull
Close-up of ring GG93791 (details to follow when I get them)
Juv herring gull
Roosting ringed plover
Don't know where this bird if from yet but it has been present on the last 3 visits
Sunday was an early start as I was leading a Pinkie Breakfast event with Dave at Snettisham. The geese performed pretty well with ca25,000 leaving the roost plus 25 snow bunting and 4 whooper swans.
After an Overdraft (monster cooked breakfast at the Old Bank) it was off to locate some goose flocks. The only big flock I found (2000) contained a single barnacle and at least 3 tundra beans. A quick walk around Burnham Norton produced very little, it is very dry at the moment, apart from a ringtail hen harrier so it was off to Warham Greens for the roost.
On arrival, a short-eared owl was hunting along the edge of the saltmarsh giving great views showing down to 20m. The highlight was a flyby rough-legged buzzard that was mobbed by a male hen harrier but unfortunatly neither bird stayed. By the time it had got too dark to see I had added peregrine, merlin, kestrel, marsh harrier and a ringtail hen harrier to the raptor list!
Tundra bean geese near Anmer