Monday, 30 June 2014

Late Post, Late Twitch, Late Home

On Sunday 22nd June Gary and I finally got time to go and twitch the Short-toed Eagle, in East Sussex, apologies for the late write up. Gary collected me a little after 2.30am, with a plan to be back in Norfolk for lunch.

We arrived around 6am, already a small cluster of birdwatchers present, allowing us to locate the correct car park at Ashdown Forest. The ST Eagle was yet to rise, but no one was quite sure where in the valley it had roosted, so we spent the next hour or so scanning.

Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Wren and Pied Wagtail were all around the 'Gills Lap' car park, and scanning the valley we soon had seen Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Blackbird, Great Tit, Mistle Thrush and Swift. There was at least one family of Stonechat and probably a second as we scanned further along the valley. There was no sign of the Eagle, but Woodlark and Tree Pipit proved a pleasant distraction. 

Just after 8.00am news came out that the Short-toed Eagle was perched 2.5km NW of the car park, we thought we should be able to see the bird from where we were so started scanning. Gary picked up a raptor in flight which started off quite a stir, it turned out to be a Honey Buzzard, but a game of Chinese whispers saw people calling it as the eagle! After a second pager message everyone ran off down the hill to try and locate the ST Eagle. We decided to walk in a slightly different direction, after noting a small group of birders across the valley, focused of something. A pleasant chap from Blackpool joined us and soon had some direction from a friend on his phone. We soon located the Short-toed Eagle perch high in a pine, although distant, our position at least gave good light. We moved slightly further up the hill to give us better views if the bird took off, which eventually it did. We couldn't really have left without seeing he Eagle in flight, so although a little latter than planned we left satisfied at 10am.

The traffic around M25 was quite so we cruised home, a quick stop at Stanstead for a drink as it was getting warm and all was well. That was until on the A14 we started to lose power, pulling into services it was clear we had over heated and had little water. After letting the car cool we filled up the water, and it promptly ran straight out of the bottom of the radiator. After a 2.5 hour delay and a visit from the AA we were back on the road, with the hole in the radiator temporarily repaired!

Monday, 9 June 2014

I've been to Specsavers...

...well Gun Hill actually. The Spectacled Warbler turned up last Monday just as a started the stretch of rota that sees me with only Wednesday off, a day I already had plans. So for a week I have read the blogs of friends and wanted to headed to Burnham Overy dunes, but surely the bird wouldn't stay to give me the chance. We luckily for me it did, so today dad and I headed up the coast. We arrived about 10am and didn't have to wait long for the Spectacled Warbler to show. Although it spent much of the time scrabbling through the sueada, on two occasions it perched up singing, before resuming what looked like nest building activities. The bird was always quite close and there was no need to my scope, the below photo was taken on my hand held compact camera.

The warbler had a supporting cast of Little Tern, Spoonbill and a slightly unseasonal Ring Ouzel, alongside the commoner species, before we headed further inland. The birds were harder to come by, with the exception of Common Whitethroat that seemed to be in every hedge. But we saw Tree Sparrow and Montagu's Harrier our target species.

Travelling back toward Kelling we saw a Little Owl sunning itself near Stiffkey, sadly he got camera shy. Two Yellow Wagtail were seen near Warham and a Barn Owl was hunting over the meadows in Cley. Kelling Heath was, with the exception of Linnet rather quite,  and the hoped for Woodlark and Dartford Warbler could not be found. A fly over Turtle Dove excited dad as he hadn't seen one or 3 years, and a family of Stonechat was nice to see.

Since my last blog posting I have on my travels to and from work seen a Red Kite and one of the juvenile Peregrine. Closer to home a Song Thrush has taken up residence in our garden, he has taken to singing from the guttering right out side our bedroom window at 5am and leaves snail shells all over the path.