Tuesday 29 December 2009

Two Otters and a Fudge

Recent highlights: Otter watched for 20 minutes at Buckenham at dusk on 23rd December. Otter sprainting on floats at Barton Broad on 28th December, plus male Ferruginous Duck. Lots of Taiga Bean Geese. Happy Christmas!

NWT Barton Broad

Otter eating an eel at Buckenham

Sunday 20 December 2009

More snow

It snowed again heavily last night. Didn't fancy driving down the lanes, so donned me boots and me and Willow headed off across the fields to the marshes. A beautiful morning; didn't see a soul until my way back from Buckenham. Counted 53 Hares in the same field as yesterday. Some were in snow holes with only their heads poking out. Not a lot down at the marshes. The local Peregrines were battling an intruding female who eventually powered off east. Several Marsh Harriers abroad, and I had a brief view of a probable Merlin. Two Water Pipits were near the fishermen's car park. No swans this morning. Hundreds of geese were on the move over Cantley way, but too distant to see what they were. Two Pinks were with the local Greylags, which I tried to string into Tundra Beans for a bit.

Later, went down to Cantley. Had a look through a huge group of Pinks feeding near the Cock, but couldn't see the Pale-bellied Brent reported earlier. Had a quick look at the marshes, and found about 70 Taiga Beans to the north of the railway line with 20-30 White-fronts. On the way home it was -3 deg as the sun was setting.

White over

Let it snow! Sketchy drive down to Buckenham early afternoon in the snow revealed 11 Whooper Swans flying along the river. This echoed yesterday's 65 which went west over Bewick House in Norwich. A lovely walk was taken along the river bank to Fleet Dike, where the Great Northern Diver was found busily fishing along the river. Lots of birds on the move with Golden Plover, Snipe and Lapwing all looking a bit bemused by the white stuff. Snipe were feeding out in the middle of the snow, happily probing away. As we walked back, another 9 Whooper Swans went west.
Amazingly the scattered brown lumps in the field at the top of the station road, turned out to be hares - 48 in all!

Sunday 13 December 2009


Went down to Buckenham first thing. A female Peregrine was sitting on a little mound in the grass on the northeast side. Later she went off over towards the railway line and appeared to land in a tree. The Great Northern Diver, a first winter, was on the river still, showing well between the fishermen's car park and the pub. I saw it catch and eat a small Roach. Also this morning, three Stonechats and two Black-tailed Godwits. No sign of any geese.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Early morning goose action

70 Pinkfeet went west over the house at 7.30am today, followed by 15 Greylags going southeast. You just can't move for geese round here.
In fact, within five miles of my house I have seen the following 8 species of geese in the last couple o' weeks:

Greylag (naturalised)
Euro White-fronted
Taiga Bean
Barnacle (naturalised)
Atlantic Canada (naturalised)
Red-breasted (escaped)
Egyptian (naturalised)


Sunday 6 December 2009

3 Bean Chilly

Another crack at finding the elusive fabalis. It was raining when Willow and me arrived at Cantley. Nothing around, so we headed across to the river to walk the river bank to Buckenham. The rain was fairly light and the wind strong. Very little bird action, save a couple of Curlew and 7 Shelduck flying around. I bumped into a lad called John who had walked from Buckenham, the opposite way to me. I hoped he would have news, but sadly he hadn't seen any geese. Doh!
Will I ever see these pesky Beans?
Anyway, I decided to continue for a little way, as it was nice to be out and the hangover was being blown away rapidly. Rounding some trees, I suddenly saw some geese dropping in, behind a reedbed. I carried on a little way, then peering through the reedtops, I could see a big gang of White-fronts. It occurred to me that I was viewing the northeast corner of Buckenham, but a lot closer than from the windpump. Great views of the White-fronts were had from my obscured position. I didn't dare venture into the open as I didn't want to flush them. Suddenly, some white tertial edges caught my eye...Then, three large, dark wedge-shaped heads craned upwards: Taiga Bean Geese! Totally unexpected, these three had somehow lost the main flock and were hanging out with the White-fronts. They dwarfed the smaller geese, and strutted around in the grass, showing large orange bills, bright orange legs and feet, a rather peculiar sort of buffy-tan breast and dark rear flank patch, dark brown upperparts with neat white fringing. Really corking.

I retraced my steps carefully so as not to flush the birds. I shortly bumped into John and I exchanged my good news. Without warning the heavens opened and I made my excuses and headed off. Within minutes my jeans were soaked through to the skin, as was my hat and gloves. It all felt worthwhile though, seeing the Beans. I strode back along the bank triumphant, battling the gale force wind and driving rain. Willow didnt seem to notice and went charging down the path and fell straight in a ditch. This was hilarious and Willow didnt seem to mind. I think she could sense my delight at seeing the Beans.
As we reached the level crossing, the rain eased, so I had one last scan to the west. To my amazement, a large group of dark geese were dropping in about a quarter of a mile away. They disappeared among the rushes, but I was sure they were more Beans. I scooted up the hill, put Willow, who now resembled a drowned rat, in the car then walked west along the bridleway. Sure enough 70 Bean Geese were in the process of dropping in from the northwest. Where had they come from? They treated me to fabulous views, despite the wind and rain as they grazed their way through the grass. I even managed a few photos. Awesome!
I love birding in the rain!

Geese 1 - 0 Jono

5th December: Buckenham
The Taiga Bean Geese are back, or so is the rumour, with up to 65 seen during the week. Arrived as the sun came up and headed round to the windpump. The marshes are very wet now, as is the path, due to all the rain we have had recently. A scan across the marshes revealed a lot of goose action, with c 50 dark geese heading south across the river. Could these be the Beans?
88 White-fronted Geese were in their usual spot over in the northeast corner of the site. Little else of note, save a late Barn Owl nonchalantly sitting in a tree on Claxton Marshes. Sadly, the geese that had flown south never returned. I had a quick look at Cantley, but not a sausage.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Still no Beans

On Friday, Philip and Vicky had a fem Hen Harrier near the Cantley turn of the A47.

Last Thursday morning before work revealed the same White-fronts on Buckenham. Nearby, 5 Ice-wits with the Lapwings, a Barn Owl searching the leeward side of the trees lining the railway line looking for a bit of breakfast and a Stonechat along the entrance road. The cows were being taken off at last, so maybe the water will come up. No raptors this morning, save a first year Marsh Harrier heading out from Strumpshaw for the day.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Chilled to the bone 22nd Nov 2009

WeBS at Hickling this morning was glorious but quiet. Teal had dropped from last month to just 1,600 or so. Good numbers of Shoveler (90) on Rush Hills but no sign of yesterday's Snow Bunting. Quite a few Bearded Tits pinging around. After a brew we went down to Cantley Marshes to see if the Beans had arrived. Reg picked up a ringtail Hen Harrier briefly on arrival and then as we arrived at the river we picked up some goose heads to the west. Switching to scope we found 33 White-fronts plus nearby 10 Pink-feet. Not a lot else of note here apart from a couple of Stonechats.

White-fronted Geese, Cantley.

Saturday 21 November 2009

A month flew by

Lots of geese around now, with many Pinkfeet coming over the house in the morning or over the station on the way to work. Woodcock in the garden a couple of weeks ago and another down Pack Lane. Buckenham is hotting up with the first white-fronts arriving at the beginning of the month. A pair of adult Peregrines have been showing well regularly and a Merlin has been around. Up to 5 Snow Bunts gathered by the pool by the pump. A trip back to Cambs and the old patch of Grafham Water revealed 5 Great Northern Divers. Blimey, things have picked up since I left! Nice to do a bit of birding with Mark Hawkes and find out what has been going down.

Selfish couple letting their dogs run among the calving grey seals on Horsey beach, 21st Nov. Note the proximity of the seal pup and the lab eating afterbirth. Nice.

Regular adult female Peregrine, Buckenham 21st Nov.

Distant White-fronted Geese, Buckenham, 5th Nov.

One of the loons at GW 16th Nov.

Feral Barnies

Thursday 15 October 2009

The Pillbox

Up to Horsey for dawn, met Dean Harlow in the car park, plus some other birder who was from Peterborough apparently. Did Cambs expand it's boundaries overnight? No sign of any Wheatears, so headed down to my little Wheatear-spot, where again I drew a blank. On the way back I realised another birder was glued to his scope, so I clambered over. The Pied Wheatear was actually in the pillbox, presumably having roosted in there overnight. It was quite happy scuttling about in the gloom, among the shit and syringes for a bit, before venturing outside to admire the local graffiti. Great views of a smart, educational bird. I had not really noticed how obvious the streaked breast band was before, and this is a good feature I reckon. Scooted north towards Waxham to see if I could pull it out of the bag. There was much more activity than on Sunday, with several Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Robins in the bushes, with a lot of finches and mippits overhead. Apparently 'our' Shore Lark was still present by the bogs on the campsite. Sadly, work beckoned, so off I went.

Willow and Adelaide, Horsey, Sat 10th Oct. Willow is thinking, "Dad, what is that small brown bird on the edge of the beach with a white arse?"

Getting thrush

Monday morning, followed Willow down the garden to see if a Y-brow had dropped in overnight. Suddenly aware of a lot of Redwing calls over head. Through the half-light it became apparent someone had left the gate open in Scandinavia and a torrent of Redwings were now flooding in over the North Sea. I was simply captivated, as wave after wave of these dudes headed west straight over my head. Occasionally flocks switchbacked in to feed on the haws down the lane next to the orchard. Soon, Fieldfares came over, with occasional groups of Song Thrushes. A wheeze, and three Brambling flicked in, landing briefly in the big Ash, before heading on west. More and more Redwings. They were coming thick and fast; my counting reduced to estimates in tens. One flock contained over 500. I set out to stretch Willow's legs round the fields. The thrushes continued non-stop whilst I did the entire circuit and continued as I walked down to the station. I counted nearly 150 whilst standing on the platform. Awesome stuff! I just wish I had the day off! Apparently there were 40,000 over Sandy later. Philip texted me at 8am to say 'there are a lot of thrushes over Cambridge'. I can't imagine how many birds went over that night and morning, but presumably a large proportion of the Scandinavian population. Maybe the westerlies had backed them up and then with the change in the weather, the floodgates opened. I reckoned there would be some good birds found soon...I was right.

Sunday 11 October 2009

More Teal than you could shake a stick at

Had a wander south from Horsey Gap yesterday arvo. Lots of Brents and Wigeon passing west offshore. Two or three Wheatears were at the foot of the dunes, whilst a few Swallows and Redwings went over, adding to the ones in the garden earlier.
No sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler reported earlier, sadly. Checked the Goldie flock near Fleggborough, but nowt doing. Lots of pinks around today generally.

Today, Sunday, did the WeBS count with Reg and John at Hickling from the boat. Not a lot doing, though a second winter Med Gull flew over, followed by a first winter on Swim Coots. Highlights from the two hides were over 2.5K Teal, probably more than I have ever seen in one place before. Pretty amazing; I would have liked to have gone through them all carefully, but we had to get on with the count. Other notable birds, were c20 Ruff, 3 Dunlin, several Snipe, 1 Ringo and the usual Bearded Tits and Marsh Harriers.

On to Horsey where after refuelling with a bacon butty, we went north for a change towards Waxham. The habitat looks impressive, with a variety of dune slacks, scrubby patches and short grass fields. We shortly arrived at a caravan park, which may be at the south end of Waxham. This had a lot of activity and looked great for a Tawny Pipit or something. Within a few seconds Reg landed the bird of the day, with a Shore Lark scuttling about in the dirt. A really stonking bird. I texted a couple of local birders and it turned out it was the first in this area for a while, so it caused a mini-twitch. Carried on doing the scrub as we went, but without success. A few Redpoll sp. went over and a Siskin or two, but all the Y-brows and Radde's eluded us. But we were happy with Shore Lark; beats the usual Wheatears...

In the evening, Willow and me pottered down to the river at Buckenham Marshes. A white blob on a distant gate was presumably a Barn Owl, but with the scope it metamorphosised into a large rather white-breasted Peregrine. It sat there for fifteen minutes, before heading east like a rocket. I didn't see what it went after. A little later three Marsh Harriers came in from the east, and went off down the valley towards Strumpshaw, presumably to roost. A decent flock of Lapwings and gulls were on the scrape, which seems to be filling back up. Sadly, I could not find a third Med for the day.

Monday 5 October 2009

When will it go east?

Well, maybe the end of this week. Pottered through Broadland on my annual birthday birding trip, looking for errant Sandhill Cranes, without joy and grilling golden plover and geese flocks for rares, again, without success. Didn't bother with bushes due to fresh westerly breeze and headed instead for Cley, where Philip soon picked up the bird of the day in the shape of a smart juv Pom heading east. A fine bird with classic double white wing flash, pot belly and casual but powerful flight. Had a look on the marshes, with a Little Stint and 26 Snow Bunts being noteworthy.

Earlier today, a dawn walk at Buckenham revealed a flighty flock of 28 Barnacle Geese plus one presumed Snow or Ross's x Barnacle hybrid. Also 11 Bearded Tits here and a few Golden Plover.

Sunday 27 September 2009


Headed for Waxham first thing, with new birding mate and colleague, Reg. The fog lay like loft insulation over the marshes as a weakening sun shimmered over the line of dunes.
How very poetic. The track down to the dunes was covered in dog crap; how delightful. A big flock of pinks were in the field near the car, a quick scan through revealed nothing white, though obscuration (is that a word?) by vegetation and the angle of the sun meant I didn't bother trying for a bean.
Assaulted by a huge dew in the dunes meant we were soon soaked from boot to nads, so we clambered over the dunes on to the beach. Cut in at the pipe dump. Little doing here, except the local Dunnocks and Stonechats, a big flock of Starlings and a dozen Linnets. The fields were really kicking off, unlike the vis mig, with one Goldfinch west and ten Starlings east. The top weedy field had been messed with during the week, with the tell tale signs of new foot drains being put in. Apparently the land here has been bought by an Argentinian millionaire who is going to drain and improve them as grazing for polo ponies. What a twat. So, where will the big flock of Goldies, Lapwings and Skylarks go then? Nothing rare here, though very enjoyable birding with stacks of birds in among the weeds and stubbles. Interesting to note that several of the Goldies still sported plenty of black on the underparts. Looks fab for a Richard's Pipit or Lap Bunt if the wind goes round. Three Wheatears were along the fenceline here, the only genuine landbird migrants we had seen. What did I expect in a light westerly with clear skies?! Anyway, a quick scan back at the car revealed 28 Cranes flapping over Brograve towards Heigham Holes. A fine sight.
On to Hickling Broad NWT, where a few Chiffchaffs, ten Shoveler and a moderate movement of Swallows was going on. Ok I am clutching at straws. A great morning to be out birding, despite the continuing lack of rare.

What it feels like to find an American Redstart!


Saturday 26 September 2009


Light westerlies, sunshine, late September. Well, one out of three suggested rare potential, so I put daughter and dog in the car and hit the dunes. Also, in the back of my mind, I remember someone somewhere once saying that the big one can turn up in any weather...
Anyway, it didn't at least not at Horsey. Three Wheatears, a few common wobblers and several skeins of Pinks dropping into fields inland was about the lot, plus some awesome views of one bull and four cow Grey Seals cavorting in the surf. A couple of nice Small Coppers flicking through the dunes were good too.
A top bacon buttie and a brew from the trailer in the car park topped off a fairly birdless but nevertheless delightful stroll. Adz can now say 'pipit', 'kink keet' (pinkfeet) and 'ween wickwecker' (Green Woodpecker).
Couple of Chiffchaffs in the garden still.

Friday 25 September 2009


I am now on twitter. Does that make me a twit?
Follow me here http://twitter.com/BirdingDad

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Work, work, work

Well, the phone was busy yesterday with various megas turning up all over; Sandhill Crane in Orkney, Cisticola and poss Booted Eagle in Kent, Albatross and Solitary Sand in Ireland...sadly, the best I could do was three Wheatears along the fence at the roman camp, Stoke Holy Cross, after dipping the Glossy Ibises.
Nevermind, serves me right for dirty twitching!
Had a day out on the recently cleared Grimston Warren NWT today, with Bill Boyd. The place looks amazing. Bird-wise, heard a few Woodlarks, and saw a Buzzard and a few Curlew. Also ticked Hares-foot Clover...More than i would have seen at my desk anyway. Roll on the weekend!

Sunday 20 September 2009

Remember these guys?

3rd Bass. A few birders I know could do with getting The Gasface.
I could list them, but you know who you are...

Black Lark at Winterton?!

Philip and me went off to the coast early on and arrived at Waxham to see the wind had picked up overnight. Birds were immediately obvious on arrival in a large field covered in stinking muck. Mainly mippits, I raised my bins and saw a Wheatear plonk down. A better start than yesterday I thought. We toiled down to the foot of the dunes and then down towards the pipe dump, seeing very little save a couple more Wheatears. Philip found a good hoverfly, telling me it's latin name, which I promptly forgot. He also found a dead Wheatear, well, a pile of Wheatear feathers, presumably a Merlin or Sprawk kill. Around the pipe dump, a Whinchat was hanging out on the brambles, and a decent flock of mippits and linnets were on the grass. A good grilling failed to find us a rosefinch or Red-throated Pipit, so we ambled back through the fields checking every mippit we flushed, to no avail. Tempted by a bacon sarnie, we popped into Winterton so we could use the cafe. The place was heaving with birders; it looked like a big twitch! It turned out that all these people had turned up to see a Red-breasted Fly! Unbelievable! Anyway, we enjoyed our brew and bacon sarnie then we legged it.
After more fatherly duties, took the family down to Buckenham to see if an ibis or two had dropped in again. Sadly not, though almost half a dozen Hobbies catching dragonflies over the marshes was a fine sight, as was a Wheatear by the cattle coral. The Red-breasted Goose was busy grazing among the large flock of (78) Egyptian Geese and Greylags, presumably fine-tuning it's 'wild' performance before joining a large Brent flock on the north coast in November. The Wigeon flock is increasing with over 40 counted, plus several Teal. Just need a bit of water for them now! Back home, a couple of Chiffchaffs moving along the back hedge calling before dusk and heard the Little Owls again.

The coast is clear

Gave Vicky the morning off and took Adelaide and Willow to Horsey Gap. Adz decided she wanted carrying the entire time, so I trudged south from the car park checking the cover along the way. Adelaide was unceremoniously plonked down if I saw anything worth investigating (which wasn't often, sadly). When I did put her down, she seemed quite happy picking up gravel as usual. After an uneventful half mile with migrants noticeable by their absence, I finally rejoiced at the sight of a Wheatear looking windswept atop a fence post on the dunes. Then, to the beach, where three Snow Buntings flew over and pitched on the strandline a little way off. Willow was happy in the surf, with a nearby bull Grey Seal keeping an eye on things. Very little moving past over the sea, a marked contrast to last weekend. I struggled back, with Adz now asleep in my arms. I will have biceps like Madonna if she carries on like this!

Carrots, Cuckoos and Orchards

So, we are finally here in Norfolk. Well, we have been now since May 1st, but life has been so chaotic that I haven't had chance to pick up where I left off on the blog front. Birding-wise, I did Thorpe Marshes/Station Marsh/Whitlingham area of Norwich until mid-August when we moved into a house in Norwich. After the dizzy heights of Grafham Water, Cambs, the marshes were hard work, with only a handful of waders, black terns, marsh harriers etc to show for my efforts. I even missed a punk scarce special within a stones throw of my house, which was a bit frustrating, but them's the breaks.
In mid-August we moved to Strumpshaw, east of Norwich. We are only two minutes from Buckenham Marshes and Strumpshaw Fen, with Breydon a mere 15 minutes away and Winterton and the other NE coast sites only a little further. I am hopeful, therefore, to get my birding back on track this autumn. I now have no excuse...

Sunday 26 April 2009

More of the sarnie

On my way out to our gig in Hitchin, had a quick look in the lagoons. Delighted to find the Sandwich Tern had moved and was now showing much better - see below. Later, I discovered that rock and roll had cost me Black-winged Stilt on my Cambs list. Nevermind!

Saturday 25 April 2009

Another Sandwich

Found this one sitting on L buoy (the tern, not me) off Mander CP at 2.30pm. For once, it was still there an hour and a half later.
Struggled to get the photo as it is about half a mile away.
Most of the migrants in now, including Garden Warbler, Nightingale, Cuckoo, Reed Warbler. Still no Turtle Dove or Spot Fly.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Anyone fancy a sandwich?

After three blank years, this afternoon I finally managed to find a Sandwich Tern at Grafham. After a big blank this morning with Sarnies everywhere else, a stroll along the dam with a sodden dog and a dozing daughter (who will be 1 tomorrow!) revealed a distant tern on B buoy. Switching to scope revealed a big pale tern, with large wedge-shaped head and black bill. Sadly for the first five minutes, the bird was head on and so I couldn't be sure....shortly, it was flushed by a fishing boat and as soon as it took flight, it confirmed itself as full-on sandvicensis. Stonking. It gained altitude as this species has a tendency to do, and leisurely cruised south towards the lagoons then down the south shore heading for the sailing club. Cool! Also present were at least two Common Terns with perhaps another four a little more distant. So, a three species tern day - not bad for the first half of April. Maybe we will get an early Little tomorrow...

April showers

Up early provided rewards in the shape of three early Arctic Terns heading purposefully west down the reservoir. They did not linger. A first-summer Med Gull was hunting worms on the grass at Marlow early morning too, with a large flock of Black-headeds. Also in today, my first Whitethroat of the spring, singing in the scrub near the north end of the dam. Several Yellow Wags and stacks of hirundines, including plenty of House Martins, were hawking for insects in the lee of the large willows by the dam. Sadly, I failed to pick out a Red-rump...
A pair of Common Scoters were also found off the dam, they later moved down towards Mander, after being flushed by fishing boats. The light northwesterly and drizzle is still going at lunchtime as I write, but little else has turned up. It is going northeasterly tomorrow, so things may pick up. Lots of migrants now in, with Sedge and Willow Warblers all over the place. There are 8 Avocets now in the lagoons, all getting very frisky.

4 Common Scoters, 5th April

Scaup - the resident female
Yellow Wag

Sunday 29 March 2009


Birding on a bright morning round Grafham Water revealed my first Swallow of the spring, which flew along the res whilst watching c30 Sand Martins scudding about over the water. Later, I hooked up with Mark Hawkes and we found the female Wheatear still present on the dam by the tower. We also had a pair of LRP's which flew past calling before landing on the north end of the dam. Lots of raptors about but nothing unusual. The female Scaup is still present and was asleep off Gaynes Point with a handful of rather dapper Tufties. Also, two female Goosander in the lagoons and six or so Goldeneye still. These birds seem to all be first summers, presumably the adults are in more of a hurry to get back to the breeding grounds. Sadly there was no wind-blown diver or seaduck following yesterday's squally weather.

Monday 23 March 2009

New patch, new birds

Two visits to the new patch today revealed a single LRP, 6 Oyks and a Green Sand, amongst commoner stuff. Nice.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Whitlingham Lane North - 'Thorpe Marsh'

After a quick look at a new place to live in Norwich on Yarmouth Road, drove through a roadblock in order to get down the north side of Whitlingham Lane. At the bottom I climbed over a footbridge (should have used the steps) and I was delighted to find Thorpe Marsh to be a large expanse of water, shingle and mud islands and berms and loads of reedswamp, marsh and willow scrub. Awesome! About the first bird I noted was a Cetti's Warbler singing from the scrub nearby. A quick walk before heading back to work revealed Oyk, Lapwing, a big gang of gulls (sadly no scope with me), a few Tufties and Gadwall. This place looks like it has loads of potential and is on the other side of the river to the dog-walker-infested country park, so hopefully is a bit quieter.
New local patch material? Definitely!!

My first views of Thorpe Marsh.


A bright sunny morning and for no apparent reason I decided to take Willow the other way round the field opposite our house. Two minutes later I heard the familiar call of a Grey Partridge. Fantastic. This species is pretty rare round Grafham. I heard one in this field this time last year, but failed to find it. Anyway, shortly the calling turned into an alarm call, possibly due to Willow's presence and I picked up a pair of these smart birds legging it through the grass. They ran virtually the entire width of the field towards the road. I walked round the back when unbelievably another male started calling from the other field to the east. He was answered by a bird over near the road. I saw him running back through the grass. However, if this was the original male, he had lost his mate. Was there four birds? I guess maybe only three. Still a fantastic sight in the morning sunshine and a great way to start the day. Little else of note in a quick look in Valley Creek and off Mander.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Blast from the past

I stumbled on this photo of Flores Scops-owl the other day (See: www.birdtourasia.com/lessersundasreport08.html). This is the first photo I have seen of the species not in the hand since I refound it in 1997 on Flores, Indonesia. Sadly we didnt get any photos at the time. I am delighted this little cracker is still bouncing around the trees in the highlands of this fab little island. Well done Birdtour Asia for nailing it.

And if you haven't seen these movie stars, check em out


The first birding road movie?

Bank Swallows at Grafham Water

Quick stretch of Willow's legs along the dam at lunchtime revealed a dozy drake Pintail lounging in Gaynes, plus several Sand Martins (at bloody last!) cruising over the trees on the lagoons shore. Also about were a few Redwings, Several Buzzards and a smart male Grey Wag on the dam. Numbers of Pied Wags and Mippits seem to be building up as is usual for the time of year as they head north with a dozen of the former and two dozen of the latter along the dam shore. Willow entertained herself by catching and eating a mouse. Nice.

Scandinavian Rockit

Photo by Mark Hawkes

Sunday 15 March 2009

Birding is the new rock n roll

It's official...

March WeBS

Today was WeBS which after a gig last night in St Ives, was very difficult to get up for. A delightful spring morning greeted Willow and me down at Marlow, but sadly, despite the feeling of something good, there were no birds anywhere. The start of the fishing season yesterday plus the onset of spring has seen a big clear-out of ducks. My quest for an early LRP or Wheatear along the dam ended in failure, with only a Redshank to show for my efforts. However, bird of the morning shortly appeared, a smart Rock Pipit feeding on the beach just west of Marlow. It promptly flew off and over my head and out of sight before I could get a photo. Despite searching I couldn't refind the pesky pipit. I called in to the lagoons on the way back to the caf to check out the female Scaup that had decided to leave Gaynes to the fishermen and was showing well in front of the hide. Lots of activity in the lagoons with c30 Shelduck, displaying Lapwings and Redshank and singing Chiffchaffs. No sign of Mark's Brambling though. Later, Mark went back round to Marlow and found the Rockit showing well on the rocks by the beach. He got some photos which I will look forward to seeing. It did feel like a day for a migrant or two...

Thursday 5 February 2009

Snow Patrol

Woke up to tonnes of snow in Perry - fab! Road through Perry was a complete no-go til mid-afternoon, so a day off work - ace! Cleared a patch of snow from the back lawn and put a load of apples out. Later, we had four Fieldfares, two Mistle Thrushes and up to 16 (!) Blackbirds all feeding on them. The patch of grass was only about 10 foot square, so really impressive. A few scraps ensued, but not too bad considering how territorial these birds usually are. The Migz didn't really chase anything off at all. Two Snipe flying low over the gardens was a house tick and suggested they had been frozen out of a nearby ditch, or maybe the lagoons, where later Willow and me found these two sitting forlornly on the ice with some bedraggled Lapwings:

Here is one of the Migz that stayed still for a photo, and a few of Perry first thing - winter wonderland or what?!