Sunday 19 May 2013

MEGA - Dusky Thrush

Ok , I must admit that every now and again I can't resist a bit of out-of-county twitching for a British tick!
The Dusky Thrush was not the best looking bird I have seen, in fact, this first winter female was probably the dullest of all the Thrushes I have seen in the UK but she was very rare. A new BOU tick for almost every UK birder and the first twitchable bird since the late 50's

On arrival she sat in a tree almost motionless surrounded by a few hundred birders. Almost impossible to get a photo as she thought she was out of sight. The presence of so many people chasing the poor bird may have been the reason she was gone the next day!

My first new bird in the UK since last Spring.. and completes a nice selection of rare Thrushes I have seen here which include (in order of my best memories) White's, Blue-rock, Red-throated, Naumann's, Black-throated, Swainsons, Grey-cheek, American Robin.

Seeing this bird was great but finding birds (even if just scarce rather than rare) is much more exciting. So will be back on the Norfolk coast next time!

The terrible shot below shows how hard she was to view.. But close prolonged views meant that all the features could be noted.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Good raptor passage today but  somehow managed to miss Osprey and Montagu's Harrier at Cley and turned back along Point only to find that a female RBFly was found in plantation later in day! Ahh

Highlights of the walk (part of the way!):
3 Wheatear
Willow Warbler, 3 Whitethroat, a hunting Sparrowhawk, Kittiwake.

N hide.. A few Black tailed and one Bar tailed Godwit. A few high soaring Buzzards and Marsh Harriers but little else of note

Better luck back at the Eye field with 5 Wheatear and 7 Flava Wagtail which included at least 3 Blue-headed Wags.. One was a nice bright male

Saturday 11 May 2013

Grey-headed Wagtail

Was alerted to an interesting Wagtail in the eye field by resident birder Tom Green. Very happy when I saw a stunning male Grey-headed Wag appear next to a female Yellow. This is a subspecies I have never seen despite it being a regular scarce passage migrant (mainly mid May)

Much darker head than any Blue-headed would be .. Small white throat does also appear fairly normal and within variation for Thunbergi... Although I will not even go into the hybrid possibility but it had no pale supercillium visible so can't see any reason why this would not be a pure Grey-headed.... Now, a Faldeg would be nice!

No photo as the bird disappeared as I tried to digi scope it... So you will all have to make do with a rubbish sketch instead!

Other birds of note today: 3 White Wag, 4-5 Wheatear, Little Stint, 30 Dunlin, a few Bl t Godwit, Whinchat...

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Spring in Norfolk

Was quite pleased with this photo, taken this morning with my phone.

It has been a while since I have posted anything here. This is mainly due to the birth of my beautiful daughter. It means limited time for birding .. But when I do have some spare birding time, I make the most of it!

Today found a really nice drake Goosander while driving over a small bridge in N Norfolk. Scarce around here. A sprinkling of other migrants such as Little Terns, LRP, Nightingale. A Sparrowhawk hunting low over the shingle along Blakeney Point but very few migrants on the ground despite the E Winds...

Will be posting mainly on Twitter only for a while but will try and do a blog update from time to time

Monday 25 February 2013

Eagle breakdown

I had a spare hour and although not holding much hope of seeing it I thought I would have a look for the White-tailed Eagle that has been in the area near Houghton Hall.

After passing Houghton Hall, with no other birders around, I stopped on roadside for a quick scan and then found the car would not start at all! I called the RAC and they said it would be a 2-3 hour wait.... I had given up all hope of seeing the Eagle and was by now just hoping it wasn't just flying around nearby with me stuck, unable to chase after it.

What happened next was unbelievable... A birder stopped next to me to announce that he had seen the Eagle fly in and land nearby. Of all the places it could have landed, it chose the nearest group of trees to stop.. amazing view of such an impressive bird. Other birders arrived then before I had a chance to study the bird while perched it flew up and was mobbed by some of the many Buzzards around. In flight you really get to see how big these birds really are.. They are huge!!

Thanks to all the people who offered to help with the car and to the birder who offered me some food too.....

The damage was £100 for a new battery (RAC prices!)... But I have never been as happy as this to breakdown before.

I have been fortunate too have seen many WT Eagles in Japan, even next to the even bigger Steller's Sea Eagles. However, I have not seen many in the UK and I missed one in Norfolk in 2011 by 15 minutes when it decided to leave the county and settle in Lincolnshire crossing over the Wash before I got to see it! A nice county tick for me.

Wednesday 23 January 2013


Currently ill at home which has given me the chance to update my blog.

These are some of the highlights of the month so far:

Dramatic winter scenes with lots of snow and ice

Lots of birds in the garden including Nuthatches, Great Sp Woodpecker and this Brambling

The birding highlights of the year have been: Hen Harriers (Cley and Strumpshaw), Waxwings in Norwich (on way to work yesterday), Merlin hunting in Norwich City (again on way to work), Taiga Bean Geese at Buckenham and a few Snow Buntings at Cley

This 'leucistic' Brent Goose was seen at Cley. A recent article in British Birds magazine described the various plumage colours of birds and talked about 'brown' plumage rather than leucistic. Something I had not heard about before. I think 'brown' Brent Goose is therefore the correct term for this plumage variation

And finally. While waiting for the weather to warm up and Moths to start appearing again it was nice to find this Herald 'roosting' for the winter in a jacket.... They are often found wintering in old barns etc. This could be the herald of a good season for rare and scarce Moths in the gaden in 2013 .. I hope so!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

2012 Highlights

There have been plenty of internet sites (like Birding Frontiers) posting their highlights of 2012. So I thought I would summarise my highs and lows of the year about to pass

I ended up seeing just two new birds in the UK. One pending acceptance (Les Canada Goose) and the other a long awaited 'tart tick' (Blyths Reed Warbler). Both of these were in the home county.
This is the lowest number of UK ticks ever for me. I could have added a few more like Sh B Dowitcher, Orphean Warbler and Parrot Crossbill if my twitching instincts had got the better of me!

I did also add a further 9 new 'world' birds on my one venture out of the country to St Lucia.

My personal highlights were the big October fall in North Norfolk. Although I only caught the tail end, the sight and sound of thousands of Thrushes dropping out of the sky, whilst being surrounded by Bramblings, Robins and other birds (including a lovely Red flanked Bluetail) will stay with me forever.

Quiet also on the finds front. However 22nd September on the Point with Ortolan Bunting at my feet and finding a Barred Warbler in the sueda was memorable.

Also seen in Norfolk were:
Coues Arctic Redpoll, GG Shrike, Bee-eater, Baird's and Pec Sand and a few Waxwing finds.

Bewick's Swan, Black Redstart and Reed Warbler were good additions to the garden list.
I also recorded record number of Micro moth species in the garden (185 plus) - Those highlights require their own page!

Now looking forward to 2013. With a new addition to our family in March to look forward to, birding will take a back seat (for a while). Although I'm sure I will be able to squeeze a few new birds in :)

Good luck to all and have a happy Christmas