Monday, 26 September 2011

Mega Northern Twitch

On Saturday Gary and i embarked on a twitch that was mega in more than one way. Firstly it was to see a 'Mega' in the Sandhill Crane, secondly it was in Aberdeenshire and thirdly i was working both Friday and Sunday. After work on Friday i got an early night and Gary picked me up at 3am. We drove north with only a brief breakfast stop at Scotch Corner and a petrol stop somewhere in Scotland. We made good time until we reached Aberdeen where and accident delayed us 45minutes and after hunting for the Strathbeg RSPB reserve we arrived about 1pm. Luckily enough the Sandhill Crane was viewable from the information center so we didn't have to walk far. Although a little distance, the openness of the site meant, with a scope you could get clear, detailed views without too much effort. We hung around about 45 minutes, also noting 2 juv. Pectoral Sandpiper and 4+ Barnacle Geese amongst 1000's of Pinkfoot Geese, as well the more common birds.
From Loch of Strathbeg RSPB we decided to call in a Blackdog a village we had passed on the way and with news that the Black Scoter that's been present for a few months had been seen it was worth a stop, 2 Surf Scoter were also reported in the area. Arriving we were greeted by a sea covered with a birds. Large numbers of Eider, Common Scoter and Guillemot, with Red-thraoted Diver and Razorbill mixed in. With some drake Common Scoter being well marked on the bill locating the Black Scoter wasn't easy. Gary eventually located the bird, but after a few minutes we lost it once again as it dived and moved on the tide. I had a single Puffin fly through, along with 2 Red-breasted Merganser, but we struggled to locate the Surf Scoter. Conscious of the time at 4pm we though we should start heading home. After a KFC stop at Gretna we arrived home at 1am,
22 hours, 1135 miles and 2 'Megas' after setting out.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Whitlingham Counts

I didn't feel like rising at 4am in order to get to Sheringham for a sea watch, but in retrospect maybe i should have, with a Fea's Petrel past and good numbers of shearwater also. Instead i went for an overdue walk around Whitlingham and decided to conduct a full count of the bird life in the area. I walked the water meadows at Trowse then the Great Broad loop, but plans to walk Whitlingham Marsh and the woods were cut short by a heavy thunderstorm, most of which luckily i sheltered from in the Flint Barn. I was rather surprised by the low numbers of small birds around, maybe it was just they were quiet or i simply couldn't see them through the still quite dense foliage. The wildfowl proved much easier to count, with Mute Swan, Mallard and Tufted Duck numbers starting to build. A singing Chiffchaff, Common Buzzard and 3 Kingfisher proved the only real highlights.

Cormorant x30, Grey Heron x2, Lesser Black-backed Gull x24, Black-headed Gull x38, Herring Gull x13, Common Gull x3, Buzzard x1, Carrion Crow x9, Magpie x6, Jackdaw x15, Jay x3, Mallard x103, Tufted Duck x47, Gadwall x31, Egyptian Goose x33, Coot x31, Moorhen x11, Great Crested Grebe x14, Black Swan x1, Mute Swan x98, Canada Goose x13, Greylag Goose x63, Feral/hybrid Goose x18, Wood Pigeon x97, Stock Dove x23, Collared Dove x3, Kingfisher x3, Green Woodpecker x2, Blackbird x8, Song Thrush x1, Robin x3, Dunnock x3, Wren x2, Chaffinch x8, Goldfinch x11, Great Tit x16, Blue Tit x22, Long-tailed Tit x7, Coal Tit x1, Cetti's Warbler x1,Blackcap x1, Chiffchaff x1, Whitethroat x1, Goldcrest x1.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Little Bittern @ Titchwell

I missed the previous Little Bittern at Titchwell so Laura and i planned to an earlish start, which was delayed by a leaking fish tank and heavy rain shower as we went to load the car. Even so we had arrived at Titchwell by 9.30. We soon found the pool the Little Bittern was frequenting and joined the growing crowd. After only 15 minutes the bird was relocated, luckily enough we were near the front and got views using another birder's scope, although not the best views we moved off as it was becoming a bit of a scrum. We walked up to the 'new' hide and despite the sun being in an awkward position picked up 7 Curlew Sandpiper, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit, but no sign of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Looking back towards the information centre we could see a flock of Golden Plover and Cattle Egret briefly in flight pointed out by a warden. We decided not to walk out to the beach instead having a second look for the Little Bittern. Again we only waited a matter of minutes and found ourselves in the right place at the right time. The Little Bittern walked across the front of the reeds in clear view, we couldn't have asked for better views, we could see it streaked brown colouring and yellow beak clearly using only binocular. Driving back via Chosley we saw the regular Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer, before stopping off at North Creake Abbey so Laura could have a look at a vintage fair.

I'd had also better breiefly mention last Mondays jaunt around Maston Marsh and Keswick with James. Marston Marsh has had a lot of word done on it this summer, the paths have been leveled and resurfaced, and 2 'fish refuge' pools and a wader scrape created. A wet winter however will surely see the paths flooded and possibly washed away, as they have not been raised. The wader scrape is also in a position that can not be viewed, so we many never know if it attracts anything. Mini-rant over there wasn't many birds about, with only Kestrel and Great Spotted Woodpecker of note on the Marshes. In the paddocks by Eaton Common we watched a Green Woodpecker and heard an unlocateable Kingfisher. Keswick Mill Pool was also quiet but a sun trap nearby gave us Comma, Holly Blue, Peacock and White butterflies. We wandered back along the main Ipswich Road stopping to photograph the Sandy Stilt Puffballs that grow on the roadside nature reserve. On Saturday i also saw my first winter thrushes of the autumn with 2 Fieldfare flying over Grove Road while walking home from work.