Sunday, 30 January 2011

Painting and Garden Watching

Most of this weekend was spent visiting Gary to paint his new nursery. I had promised i would paint some birds for him and with the baby due in 6 weeks i though i better start. Before catching the train to Gary's i had a brief look in the garden, the male Blackcap was still about and a female Sparrowhawk flew over, but with only a small amount of time put off the 'RSPB Garden Watch' until Sunday. Between painting Gary took me for a pint and bowl of Cheesey Chips at the Poachers Pocket at Walcott. The surprised look on the barmaids face when we rested to be served outside was great. We soon added Red-throated Diver to the pub list, with them flying in all directions, i gave up counting at about 15. Lots of gulls were about but no Med Gull. Just before we left a smaller wader flew past which Gary relocated, a Purple Sandpiper was then duly added to the pub list. We had a Buzzard driving back, Brambling and loads of finches in Gary's garden.

On Sunday morning Laura and I started by doing our hour of the RSPB Garden Watch, racking up 18 species, before heading off to Gary and Claire's for me to continue with my painting. A Treecreeper was a new 'Garden Tick', the Blackcap and Sparrowhawk appeared again. Also flyover were more Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Carrion Crow and Feral Pigeon.

14 - Long-tailed Tit
10 - Blackbird
9 - Chaffinch
3 - Goldfinch
3 - Blue Tit
3 - Collared Dove
3 - Woodpigeon
3 - Great Tit
2 - Starling
1 - Magpie
1 - Black-headed Gull
1 - Dunnock
1 - Blackcap
1 - Treecreeper
1 - House Sparrow
1 - Sparrowhawk
1 - Coal Tit
1 - Greenfinch

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cley East Bank

Having stayed overnight with my parents, we all went out for a morning drive/walk to Cley. We parked up in East Bank carpark and walked down the bank to look for the American Wigeon. Walking out we could see very few Wigeon of any type, but did pick up a couple of Bearded Tit in the reeds and a Spotted Redshank on Arnold's Marsh. A large flock of Snow Bunting could also be seen flying along the shingle ridge. Walking back some of the Wigeon had reappeared and after a bit of scanning we located the drake American Wigeon. Geese streamed overhead, mainly Pinkfeet and Dark-bellied Brent. Dad then picked out 6 Bean Geese near the back of the main group as they flew west, a Barnacle goose was also with the Brents and a lone Whooper Swan was near the Coast Road. Looking over the main scrapes i added Avocet and a surprise Green Sandpiper to my fledgling yearlist, as well as Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit. We then moved onto Blakeney, before returning to the NWT Info centre for a warming cup of tea.

Friday, 14 January 2011

New Year Proposal

Work, the weather and other engagements have limited my birding activities so far this year. On the 1st after a quiet New Years at Gary and Claire's, Gary and i rose early to start our Jan 1st bird race. With Gary still suffering and on crutches, Gary's dad joined us acting as stand in driver and we head towards Titchwell for first light. The first bird of the year was a Barn Owl near Morsten. The day was dull and drizzly so a good total wouldn't be easy. We picked up a few birds walking out to the beach in the near darkness, but the best birds of the day was on the beach, a group of 9 Shore Lark east of the boardwalk. We collected a lot of the usual waders, and wintering ducks on the sea and a group of Snow Bunting flew through before we returned to the main reserve. We briefly saw the Northern Harrier over Thornham Marshes, and 2 Water Pipit were of note on the fresh marsh, before we watched the feeders by the cafe, as we ate our bacon baps. Choseley was very disappointing with only a single Mistle Thrush on the wires. Stopping to look for Tree Sparrow we stumbled upon a group of 200+ Brambling, the biggest surprise of the day near Burnham Market, large numbers of Linnet were also in the area. Back on the coast we watched the 2 Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham, but missed the 2 Smew at Wells, and added Red-throated and Great Northern Diver from Salthouse beach. A brief call at Felbrigg added Goldcrest and Nuthatch, before we caught up with the Whooper/Bewick's Swan flock near Catfield. Last stop of the day was Stubb Mill, from the roost we added 5 Crane and Woodcock to the list, also hearing Kingfisher and Tawny Owl. i counted 43 Marsh Harrier, 3+ Ringtail and 1 Male Hen Harrier while at the roost and watched the 1000's of Pinkfeet returning to roost. For the full days listing see my main website.

On the 9th Laura and i visited some of the places we visited on out very first day out birdwatching, staring first at Barton Broad where i soon added Tufted Duck and Pochard to the year list. I then found drake and redhead Smew which frustrating then swam out of view, it then took a frustrating 15/20 minutes before i relocated them through a gap in the trees so Laura could see them. A Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid was also found, but no Scaup. Horsey was the next stop, while walked down the Nelson track to see the Seals a skein of White-fronted Geese flew over. There were lots of people at the seal watch point, but few birds on the beach or surrounding area. Sanderling and Turnstone about it, so i had a quick sea watch. 2 GN Diver headed east along with 2 Red-throated Diver and 2 Kittiwake. A Black-throated diver was the surprise find as it headed west. I had plans to go to the Nelson Pub and sit in front of the fire, but arriving at 12.15, 15 minutes after it opened it was standing room only! Once back home and warm, i proposed to Laura, something i wanted to do in front of the pubs roaring fire, she said yes!

Today with yet more drizzle, and not many birds about to go see, i decided against a planned trip to see the American Wigeon at Cley, instead opting for a little shopping in the City. This did give me a chance to catch up with the Waxwing on Lower Clarance Road, before heading home.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Final Whitlingham Trip

Gary, James and myself had planned a trip out in North Norfolk, but with Gary suffering more ligament damage James and i slid and skated around an icy Whitlingham. Walking down the lane we first inspected the large flock of Greylag Geese on the meadows, the usual 'little hybrid' and 2 new Greylag/Domestic Geese were with 145 other Greylags. Walking along the edge of Little Broad we located a Coal Tit and at least 3 Lesser Redpoll in the Alders, but with the broad frozen solid no wildfowl. The Great Broad was almost as frozen, with only 2 ice free pockets containing most of the birds. Whilst scanning through the gulls on the ice i located a juv. Herring Gull adorned with a large red ring 'YZC' and a smaller metal tag. James has since found out this bird was ringed at Halvergate Island and has been seen in Southwold this autumn. While James was counting Coot and Gadwall, i found a single female Goldeneye amongst the Tufted Duck, Pochard and Coot. I had been told that Nuthatch had been on the feeders and knowing Jame still need it as a patch tick we paused to check. After only a few minutes a Nuthatch briefly appeared on the feeders joining the Blue Tit, Great Tit and large group of Long-tailed Tit. The second ice hole held a lone Teal, Little Grebe and lots more Tufted Duck, Coot and Gadwall. We watched a fox run across the ice and 2 Redwing flew over, before a walk through the woods revealed little of interest.