Thursday, March 22, 2018

πŸ“– #20 ~ Great Egrets

🌀11C Thursday 22nd March 2018 ~ Two Great Egrets certainly gave us the runaround at Brandon Marsh this morning! First seen on Swallow Pool, then River Pool and finally rewarding the Brandon volunteers with some terrific views from the East Marsh Hide.

One of a brace of Great Egrets at Brandon Marsh today!

Great Egret
Almost unnoticed a single Dunlin on Willow Island, (2) Shelduck, (8) Snipe, (2) singing Chiffchaff and a Willow Tit at the Carlton ditch were other highlights. Looks like the door could be open for some intense spring migration tomorrow and over the coming weekend with Thrushes and other winter migrants moving out and summer migrants moving in.

BUBO Listing

Monday, March 19, 2018

πŸ“– #19 ~ Spring Migration

πŸ’¨❄️🌀1C Monday 19th March 2018 ~Since my last post I've been out and about most days in search of early spring migrants. That said the mini 'beast from the East' over the past few days seems to have put a stopper on the trickle of birds already making it through to our shores!

Chiffchaff ~ Brandon Marsh
A singing Chiffchaff was the best on Thursday while working with the Brandon Marsh Team! Our time was spent preparing the Islands and Sand Martin structure for the forthcoming breeding season. At Draycote Water on Friday morning, I set off towards Hensborough Bank where a Wheatear had been reported the previous afternoon but there was no sign! However, I did manage to see the Swallow along Farnborough Bank which has been around for a few days and during my short stay here a Sand Martin drifted through. After Draycote I headed off to Brandon Marsh late morning and along with Alan Boddington managed at least three Sand Martins.

Otter ~ Swimming to the back of Carlton Pool
Saturday a late afternoon vigil in the East Marsh Hide in very challenging conditions yielded my first local Redshanks (3) of the year and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was also present: the prize for sticking it out for a couple of hours, a Dog Otter! First seen briefly on East Marsh I rushed down to Carlton Hide just in time to snap a photo as it swam through.

One of two Mistle Thrush on the car park bank Brandon Marsh!
Again today (Monday) another battling walk along Farborough Bank, Draycote as the 'beast' continued to hammer in. Best before heading on to Brandon Marsh was a couple of Rock Pipits feeding with a mixture of Redwing, Meadow Pipits and Fieldfare along the grass bank.

Redwing from the comfort of the car at Brandon!
On arrival at Brandon a spot of comfort birding from the car, when along the car park grass bank a number of Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush and a brace of Mistle Thrush were feeding. As expected no additions on the migrant front from East Marsh Hide but a Pintail pair, (5) Oystercatcher and two Shelduck, plus adult Yellow-legged Gull.

BUBO Listing

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

πŸ“– #18 ~ Draycote & Brandon

🌀8C Wednesday 14th March 2018 ~ After dipping the Red-throated Diver yesterday I couldn't have timed my arrival better at Draycote Water this morning as Richard Mays and Dave Cox had just sent out the word of a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe!

Black-necked Grebe just off the sailing club!
Having had a call from Theo de Clermont I hung around at Farborough Bank until Theo arrived a few minutes later and we both headed off down to the sailing club, where Richard and Dave had said it had gone. We were there within five minutes and straight onto the bird, which was not only in full summer plumage but was also calling constantly, which was a real treat!

Gorgeous Black-necked Grebe & calling!
After enjoying the bird for a while I headed off to Brandon Marsh, bumping into several of the Brandon volunteers, who were, fortunately, visiting Draycote on an RSPB Coventry local branch outing. Yesterdays Swallow was still around Farborough Bank but I didn't stop at the play area for the long staying Hawfinch.

Red Kite drifting over East Marsh Pool!
Brandon Marsh has returned to some normality after the flooding, although we need to release the water on East Marsh pool desperately. By the way, if anyone is visiting tomorrow (Thursday 15th) we will be preparing the Sand Martin structure & any islands that aren't underwater for the forthcoming breeding season. I'll post my sightings for today on the Brandon Birding Site but the hightlights during my visit included Red Kite and my 1st Sand Martins of the year, with two over East Marsh Pool!

BUBO Listing
Year-List 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

πŸ“– #17 ~ SNOWY OWL

SNOWY OWL ~ Never did I imagine in my wildest dreams that I'd get this close to one of these stunningly beautiful birds on home soil!

In fact initially, Dee and I didn't intend to visit RSPB Snettisham on Sunday after the bird had been relocated. I'd spent all of Saturday morning chasing around for this UK life tick and after all, this was meant to a be a leisurely weekend with the wife birding in Norfolk.

However, I'm glad to say that my wife knows me well and after seeing images on social media she knew I would have regretted missing out on this amazing spectacle and insisted we went! I didn't need much persuading and as it turned out, in the end, it was me who had to drag her away from this fabulous 1st winter female!

BUBO Listing
Year-List 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018

πŸ“– #16 ~ Norfolk Weekend 2/2

🌀🌧10C Sunday 11th March 2018 ~ After yesterdays mad dash a more sedate start to the day at RSPB Titchwell Marsh. With no sign of the Snowy Owl here we parked at the reserve with impunity at around 9:30am. A Chiffchaff singing in the carpark was my first of the year.

After a look at the feeders, a single Brambling of note, a leisurely stroll along the West Bank path towards the beach, pausing at various spots to scan the freshwater marsh and across towards Thornham. Still around 100 or so Brent Geese, constantly chattering away and although we heard Bearded Tit within the reed bed we never quite managed to make contact, nor did we see the apparently 'showing well' Bittern at the Island Hide! However, to the East across the reed beds at least five active Marsh Harriers and along the channels Little Grebe, Gadwall and a half dozen Pochard, including three drakes.

Two of seventeen Mediterranean Gulls ~ Unfortunately in direct sunlight!
There's little scrape currently on the freshwater marsh but in places the water was low enough to support various numbers of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit and four sleeping Knot. There seems to be an unprecedented number of Meditteranean Gulls currently, with seventeen today, although I'm aware of numbers of up to forty in recent weeks! The Bracken Marsh produced Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Knot, Ringed Plover and Curlew and a sea-watch was more productive than yesterday, with ten Long-tailed Ducks, (4) Goldeneye, drake Greater Scaup and single Great Crested Grebe!

On route back to the centre, just as a Red Kite drifted over, there was a sudden exodus of the reserve! Would this have had anything to do with fact that the Snowy Owl had just be found once again, this time at RSPB Snettisham.

Bird Species Seen

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Brent Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Goldeneye, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Meditteranean Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, SNOWY OWL, Barn Owl, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Song THrush, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Goldcrerst, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Bearded Tit (H), Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Brambling, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Snow Bunting


Roe Deer, Muntjac, Brown Hare

Saturday, March 10, 2018

πŸ“– #15 ~ Norfolk Weekend 1/2

🌀 14C Saturday 10th March 2018 ~ While on route late Friday afternoon for a planned weekend visit to Norfolk a Birdguides update announced that a Snowy Owl had been spotted at Scolt Head Island, Norfolk. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the Premier Inn Kings Lynn, it was too late in the day to have any chance of visiting.

Notwithstanding I arrived at Burnham Deepdale shortly after 6am on Saturday morning! I was well aware that the last report on Friday had the bird flying off to the west, but I had to start somewhere. It was a pretty atrocious morning with heavy rain falling but on arrival, there were at least a dozen hardy birders already on site. I spent a short time chatting with Penny Clark, who'd managed to view the bird yesterday evening but after a good 90 minutes, I decided to give up and head back to the hotel for breakfast. Amazingly just as I arrived back, the bird had been refound at Thornham Harbour.

I was at Thornham within half an hour and almost immediately onto the bird, thanks to the many helpful birders already there. It was perched up in a dead tree, albeit distant but I managed some reasonable scoped views, this was a UK lifer for me. Unfortunately just as I lined up the Canon SX50 for a long-range record shot the bird flew down into the scrub and out of sight. There it remained for a good while, that was until a couple of dicks with cameras decided to approach, eventually flushing the bird out onto the beach, where it perched up on a post, in fact remaining there for the remainder of the day!

After picking up Dee back at the hotel late morning we decided to head down to Cley marshes for lunch. With RSPB Titchwell mobbed due to the Snowy Owl and parking almost impossible we decided to give it a wide berth. Cley held the usual selection of species, a brace of Marsh Harriers over the reedbeds and a varied selection of waders on Arnolds Marsh. I'll add a full species list for the weekend in tomorrows post. The sea was incredibly quiet with very little of note so we decided to end the day with a visit to Salthouse for the Snow Buntings!

Snow Buntings on Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Bar-tailed Godwit ~ Cley Marshes

Monday, March 05, 2018

πŸ“– #14 ~ Local & Brandon Marsh

🌀8C Monday 5th March 2018 ~ Broken tooth leading to extraction and stitches, man-flu and being literally frozen in at the marina by the 'Beast from the East' have led to a definite case of birding withdrawal symptoms this past week!

Notwithstanding I've been out and about no matter what the weather over the last few days with local visits to Brandon Marsh and Napton Reservoir. As it happens despite resembling a winter wonderland it was a pretty springlike morning at Brandon on Sunday with a fast thaw going on and a balmy 8C by the time I left shortly after 1pm.

Mediterranean Gull from the Wright Hide found by Graham Rowling!
Wood Mouse ~ Foraging after the big freeze!
Sunday's visit did, in fact, produce two year-ticks with Mediterranean Gull and Yellow-legged Gull, both on East Marsh Pool. Plus a cute little Wood Mouse foraging in the open after the big freeze!

Bearded Tit ~ Napton Reservoir
Today I decided to begin at Napton Reservoir for a look at a currently residing Bearded Tit. It was an easy find with Theo de Clermont already on site and onto the bird. While chatting with Theo a Water Rail calling from within the reedbed, several Reed Bunting and the briefest burst of song, of which I'm convinced was a Blackcap. After a while with Theo and Chris Mathews who arrived on site, I headed off for a few hours at Brandon Marsh.

Bearded Tit
It was certainly a day of bumping into a good selection of Warwickshire birders with Richard Mays, Dave Cox, Paul Cashmore and Denis Woodward already installed in East Marsh hide. Yesterday's Meditteranean Gull reappeared just shortly after I arrived, picked up by Denis initially. The rest of my visit was spent around Carlton and Jury hides with John Coakley. Species of note included: Goosander Pair, Shelduck, (3) Oystercatcher, (4) Wigeon, Water Rail, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk and at least (5) Buzzard on the wing.

Barn Owl ~ Wigram's Turn Marina
The icing on the cake for me was when I returned to the marina later in the afternoon when not one but two Barn Owls were day hunting on the marinas dog walking meadow. Obviously unable to hunt during the freeze and likely desperate for a good meal. Unfortunately during the twenty minutes or so I watched I didn't see any captures and then the rain set in!

BUBO Listing
My BUBO year-list does not currently include American Horned Lark