Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler and another trip North

On Saturday, in the teeth of a gale Gary and I headed north to catch up with the Yellow-rumped Warbler in near Durham. Leaving North Walsham just after 4am, dodging a few fallen trees we arrived around 9am.

We didn't have to wait long with great views of the Yellow-rumped Warbler as it done a few circuits of the hedge and nearby gardens. We waited around to try to get better photos as the light was poor but the bird became more reclusive as other birds started to use the feeders.

We headed off to Langdon Beck to hunt for Black Grouse. In places the snow was lying quite deep and drifted across the road in places. Driving through to St John's Chapel we failed to see anything. Surprisingly as it was snowing on the drive back towards Langdon Beck we found 8-10 Red Grouse, and on a pasture close to Langdon Beck Hotel we found 13 Black Grouse. We went off to look at a nearby reservoir, saw nothing and nearly got stuck in the snow. Back by the Hotel I then spotted a Black Grouse in a tree close to the road side, Gary told me i had seen a bin bag or some rubbish, he still reversed and we had crippling views of a male Black Grouse eating berries. The car had not enjoyed the adventure as much as us, with the steering rack caked in ice and the brakes frozen, we had to have a pit stop to defrost the car before heading home.

On Sunday Laura and I headed out to buy a few bits for the house, and while out we saw 2 Common Crane at Potter Heigham, and Whooper and Bewick's Swan at Ludham. On Monday i forgot to look for the Waxwing on Ber Street in Norwich, but writing this i can see the lone Waxwing in the apple tree opposite work. Apologies for another rambling post hopefully i'll get the formatting sorted soon!

Friday, 7 February 2014

A Scottish Dash

Since moving house there has been 3 or 4 'mega' birds to try and twitch, but the move, work and other commitments have left Gary and i concentrating on our local patches. The American Coot has however remained near Inverness since Christmas and although 550 miles away proved one twitch to many to avoid. On Sunday night at 10.30pm Gary picked me up and we started the long drive north. Driving non-stop through the night (stopping only in Avimore, just before we ran out of fuel) we arrived in Inverness at 7.15am, bolted down a fried breakfast in Tescos and arrived at Loch Flemington around 8am. Pulling into the layby next to the Loch within seconds we has seen the American Coot in the margins just feet away. An anti-climax in a way, as 'megas' should not be this easy!

We waited around for the light to improve seeing, 20+ Bewick's Swan, a Great Northern Diver and 6+ Goldeneye. After a trying to tempt the AC closer with a sandwich, we took a few photos and headed off into the Highlands to look for a few Scottish specialties. Driving back towards Avimore via Dulsie Bridge and Lochindorb, we saw Dipper, Peregrine and Red Grouse. At Loch Garten RSPB a man has set up some feeders in the carpark and invited us in close, we saw Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Treecreeper at extremely close quarters. We then heard the call of a Crested Tit and shortly 3 stunning Crested Tit appeared a few feet in front of us.

Made up we headed off to Cairngorm, our last stop to look for Ptarmigan. Cairngorm Mountain was crazy, the railway and ski lifts were closed but without going higher than the carpark we experienced 90-100mph gusting winds and a wind chill of -12C. Hiding behind the car, we watched c20 Snow Bunting being blown around the carpark, before some how we found a small group of Ptarmigan, distant but still a nice bird to see. Leaving Cairngorm around 1.30pm we arrived home just before midnight to complete our mad dash to Scotland.