Saturday, 17 December 2011

Western Sandpiper at Cley

Well after having run out of holiday at work and having a number of engagements in past weekends I finally managed to get to Cley to see the Western Sandpiper. Initial views were distant but after an hour or so it flew very close to the hide and showed really well. A couple of videos below show the amount of ginger feathering that is now visible.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Eastern Black Redstart and Greater Yellowlegs.

Myself and some of the boys headed north to see the Eastern Black Redstart and the Greater Yellowlegs, first stop the legs. This bird gave us the run around and I only got the briefest flight views before it headed south. We chased but missed it by 5 minutes at Chevington before it flew north. We decided that we should go and see the Redstart and see what the Legs did later on.
The Redstart had taken up residence on the beach near the school on Holy Island. The journey across to the Island was very atmospheric with a glass like sea on both sides and waders feeding just by the causeway. Once we found the Redstart it showed fantastically and seemed oblivious to the assembled crowd. I was struck by how much brown it had on the crown and upperparts and assume this can be attributed to it being a 1st winter bird. Brent Geese flew in close to the shore and Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers were seen from the beach. The island had feel of the Scillies to me and I hope to return soon.
News soon broke that the Yellowlegs had been refound at Cresswell so we had to tear ourselves away from this stunning bird to allow time to see the legs before darkness fell. We managed to get good but distant views of the bird as it feed in amongst the reeds and it was successful at catching small fish on a number of occasions. This was a magic day and the glorious sunshine made it even better.

Eastern Black Redstart.


With Jupiter sitting nice and bright in the east sky I thought I would give digiscoping it a go. Results below.

Jupiter - You can even make out the orange bands of its atmosphere.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Nikon P300

Trying out a new camera, a Nikon P300. Its a great little camera and below are a few images from it I snapped down on the River Deben late yesterday. A more in-depth review to follow.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Daurian Shrike -Dunwich

More to follow of todays antics.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

October 11th

It was almost back to a full complement with the boys back from Shetland so I thought it best to show them a Yellow-browed Warbler, after all they had only seen 30+ in the last week. The Thorpeness bird showed really well and called non stop for about 2-3 minutes. Vis mig was good with 150+ Siskin, 75 + Redpoll, 8 Crossbills (plus 13 at North Warren earlier), 150+ Goldfinches and a Tree Sparrow that got us going as it called briefly as it headed towards us. After a couple of hours it was evident that nothing was fresh in so we took the decision to twitch the ultra showy Woodchat Shrike at Links Road. The bird performed superbly and allowed so good photos before my battery died!!

The Links Road Woodchat Shrike.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Sandhill Crane

Finally got round to adding my footage of the Sandhill Crane at North Warren before it took flight and headed to Boyton for all to see (except those on Shetland).

Monday 10th - As you were.

With a switch in the wind came a switch in the number and variety of birds recorded whilst seawatching. In 2 hours I recorded just 44 Brent Geese, whilst Bonxies increased to 18, however most gutting was I missed a Fea's Petrel that went north!
The Pied Flycatcher from yesterday was still present, but the bird that got the pulse racing the most was a Swift that dashed past me heading south, the shouting of "come back!!" worked and it banked back round and hawked over the common for several mintues enadbling me to nail it as just a Common Swift.

Sunday 9th October - Thats more like it.

Some overnight rain and it felt a bit rare when I reached the caravan park. The high pitched whistle of Redwings and the distinct call of Song Thrushes was coming from every bush and a Dartford Warbler called from scrub near the car park. My first Bramblings of the year passed overhead with Siskins and Redpoll. A lond bird flew in front of me and landed in the edge of a hawthorn, it turned out to be a Pied Flycatcher and showed well if briefly before heading to the group of bigger trees at the centre of the caravan park. I reached the clifftop and began seawatching, over the next few hours I recorded the following, a probable Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, 3900+ Brent Geese, 3 Pale-bellied Brents, c520 Gannets, 11 Arctic Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua, 9 Bonxies,10 Red-throated Divers, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, a 2 Short-eared Owls in off. Several Skylarks were also seen to come in off. One thing I found interesting is that although Landguard Bird Observatory recorded high (9000+) Brent Geese, they only logged 50+ Gannets, I assume these birds are coming in close in shore between Thorpeness and Felixstowe. After a good seawatch I walked around the allotments finding a very vocal Yellow-browed Warbler, I assume it is a diffrent bird to Fridays.

Friday 7th - Where did the north wind go?

Looking at the weather forecast a strong northerly was promised so I headed to Thorpeness in the hope that a good seawatch was afoot. However it soon became apparent by north the weatherman meant west! I struggled to see much and gave up after an hour so bashed the bushes. Highlight was my first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn that called 3 times in as many hours and evaded views. A Lesser Whitethroat showed well however and had characteristics of an eastern type as it was quite sandy brown on the mantle and lacked a lot of grey in the crown and face. 8 Crossbills flew south and the odd flock of Siskin and Redpolls headed south.
North Warren held a few fresh in Wigeon and amungst them was a Chiloe Wigeon now coming out of eclipse plumage.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Red letter day

Me and the 2 Craigs headed down to Cornwall on Friday night as we were booked on the 1st chopper going over to the ISles of Scilly on Saturday, the aim to see the Solitary Sandpiper. Just after we left we got a message to say a possible Waterthrush Sp. had been found on St Marys, result. The next morning as we waited to board the chopper the Waterthrush had been confirmed on the pager, this was exciting stuff.

However after reaching lower moors at around 8 it became apparent the Waterthrush has gone for cover so it was going to be a stressful wait. Whilst waiting we saw the Pectoral Sandpiper but little else so we decided to look for the Solitary Sandpiper as that was the bird we had originaly come for.

Pectoral Sandpiper

The Sandpiper showed ridiculously well and we watched spell bound for about 20 minutes, before heading back in to town for breakfast.

Craig gets intimate with the Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper 

Whilst eating the pager leapt in to life with the news a Black-and-White Warbler had be found at lower moors.A taxi was soon flagged down and we were off!! A rather tense 30-40 minutes of scrambling through dense wet sallows ensued but soon we had nice views of this bird creeping and flitting through the vegetation almost oblivious to the panic around it. Several back slap, hugs and hand shakes were had as a good crowd enjoyed the bird.
After getting some second looks at the warbler we headed to the airport, finding a female Woodchat Shrike sat on the airfield fence as we walked up the hill. The 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers showed distantly from the terminal building but all too soon we had to leave.

Female Woodchat Shrike
Once back on the mainland we made a detour for Drift reservoir to see the juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper, which like the Solitary Sandpiper showed really well. The Lesser Yellow-legs showed distantly but brought with it the 7th species of American bird for the day.

Semi-P Sandpiper

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Southwold seawatch

An early morning seawatch from Southwold produced 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Sooty shears, a lone Manxie 6 Black Terns, 6+ Arctic Terns, 6+ Arctic Skua and a probable Storm-petrel. By mid morning the sea became less productive with just the odd Little Gull and a steady stream of Terns passing by.

A little Bit(tern) of Norfolk

The plan was get to the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper early, then pop in and get the drake Blue-winged Teal at Salthome before stopping off at Titchwell for the Little Bittern, the reality was get half way to the Sharpie find out its gone then head to Norfolk.We did however have a rather good day with 23 species of wader, with highlights being 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper and a couple of Dotterel as well as numerous Curlew Sandpipers and a few Little Stints. The best bird of the day however for me was the juvenile Little Bittern that showed superbly after a nail biting 2 hour wait.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back to Thorpeness for the Wryneck

After co-finding a Wryneck on Friday evening myself and Craig H headed back to see if it was still around and check for any other left over migrants. The Wryneck soon showed but was very flighty, so we enjoyed it from a distance in light drizzle.

 The rest of the caravan park remained quite with the exception of a lone dark phase Arctic Skua passing south offshore.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A bit of Suffolk and a bit of Norfolk

Craig and the new BINs bus, those PG tips don't stand a chance.
Myself and the Craig's started early doors at Covehithe and we soon found 10+ Curlew Sandpipers and a few Dunlin still in residence. An juvenile Arctic Tern headed south with a few commons. A Wheatear was on the beach and a flock of 8 Sanderling played chicken with the incoming waves.

After a hearty breakfast we headed north in to Norfolk to twitch the Western Bonelli's Warbler. It soon became apparent that the bird was elusive and in all honesty I wonder if it was there at all as several people had a pale Chiffchaff which they kept calling as the Bonelli's.
We headed off to Cley and after a piece of cake we scoped the pools at Cley and soon found the Red-necked Phalarope as well as 8 Spoonbill, 10+ Little Stint, 30+ Curlew Sands, a Wood sand and several each of Ruff and Dunlin.
A brief stop at Walsey hills resulted in excellent views of the Red-backed Shrike.

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Orfordness - 6th August.

A trip over to fantasy island aka Orfordness with Craig and Roy got off to a superb start with a flock of 7 Little Stints! Also present on the Ness were several each of green and common Sands, greenshanks and Whimbrel. 4 Little ringed plover were a nice sight and showed well just of the green trail. A short sea watch produced a juvenile Marsh Harrier in off, a dozen or so Grey Plover and a lone Common Scoter. Passerines were represented by 2 Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, and a few fresh looking Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. 2 smart Ruff rounded of a nice day out. Water levels are low so future trips for waders may have to wait until more rainfall maintain levels.


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sizewell - 31/07/11

Starting in the late morning myself and Craig checked Minsmere for the Cattle Egret. We viewed from the raptor watch point in the overflow car park. We scoped several Cattle but could not find any egrets amongst them, a flock of c30 Crossbills flew south calling emphatically as the went. We decided to head to Sizewell in search of tern etc. around the outfall. We saw a nice juvenile Black Tern, 3+ Arctic Terns, and around 40 Little Gulls which were increasing in numbers as we watched.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Bridle Guillemot

I received this picture of a bridle type Guillemot sat on sizewell beach. Seeing this form at this time of year must be a rare occurance, would have been handy if the underwing colour could have been noted.
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Sunday, 3 July 2011

Suffolk coastal tour.

Well with mid-summers day behind us it must be autumn, time for the wanders. An early start and first stop was Covehithe broad but with the exception of avowed was waderless. Out to sea a couple of gannets an auk species on the sea and a fulmar were noted on the walk north to Benacre broad. The broad held 5 Egyptian geese, 2 med gulls and a few avocets and ringed plover. A couple of crossbills called whilst we sat in the hide. On nearing the car a raptor was spotted heading north. It was larger than the displaying Marsh harrier and remained on flat wings., it lacked a pale head or carpal patches whilst the upper and underwing seemed to show a kite type wing pattern when it briefly turned. However it remained distant and kept heading away so had to stay as a possible Black Kite at best. Next stop.was southward where the best birds to be found were 9 med gulls, with the boating lake looking excellent for waders.A stop at hen needed held a lone Green Sandpiper but little else and only a few black wits were present on the estuary although good numbers of avocets were noted.
We reached Island mere just before midday and the female fudge duck was soon found loading near the island in the thrall of mounting ducks. A couple of Greenshank also flew over. After a quick bite to eat we headed to south hide to look for the rosy tern and we also received news the fudge duck had relocated to the pool behind south hide. On reaching the pool however it soon became clear this was a Drake bird and not the female we had seen an hour or so earlier on island mere! On south scrape no rosy tern but a French rung med gull was seen. The levels held 2 Spotted Redshank and a Ringed Plover and the presumed Cape Shelduck. East scrape was home to the rung Spoonbill and 2 of its companions, and the large gulls have begun to build up with several scruffy mounting individuals. I don't think it will be long before a good wader is found to get the autumn of to a start.
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Sunday, 19 June 2011

White-winged Scoter trip

I left work on Friday at 5pm and walked through my door at just after 6 on Saturday evening, a bit of an epic journey home!! I travelled up to Aberdeenshire with 4 mates in the hope of seeing the White-winged scoter, as well as the other assembled ducks and the near-by King Eider. We reached the Murcar golf course just after 4 in the morning and began scanning through the 2000+ ducks and auks. It took some 20-30 minutes to can from one side of the main scoter flock to the other. I found 3 drake Surf Scoters and 20+ Velvets of various age groups but no White-winged. A shout went up for a possible bird just before 6 and sure enough it was the White-winged an showing closer than I had expected, in fact it was probably the closet bird being just 200 yards offshore. It showed very well allowing the head profile, bill profile and colour to be studied well, the bird had distinct brown tinge to the flanks and little white was visible under the eye. It slowly swam further out and joined the main scoter flock. At one time I had Common, Surf, Velvet and White-winged scoter all in the same field of view, best of all for a while it allowed direct comparison with a 1st winter Velvet and the differences mentioned above set it apart.

White-winged Scoter - A rather poor video grab after it had moved much further out.
Drake Surf Scoter - 1 of 3


White-winged Scoter - Top video, bird is just in front of line of Common Scoters
Surf Scoter - Bottom video

After watching the bird for sometime the rain began to fall so we headed north to add the King Eider to the sea duck tally. After a bit of searching I picked it out feeding mid channel inland from the Coastguard building.
An epic day out and as usual a right giggle was had with the boys.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Another Monday another superb bird.

I was sitting at work when I received a phone call from Jon at Minsmere, he told me he had 2 people in reception who were sure they had seen a Roller on the common at Upper Hollesley. I took the details and phoned a birding friend who works near-by and within 20 minutes he rang me back to confirm the report was correct. The news was soon broadcast and several local birds were soon on the scene. I could not make it till after work by which time the sun had came out and the bird almost glowed in the late afternoon sun. In flight the colour looked more luminescent and in some ways the flight was rather pratincole like. Though distant it oftne showed well and seemed to be feeding well, lets hope it hangs around. A big thank you to the finder Norman Thorpe for taking the time to track people down to get the news released.

Roller - Rather distant but still a cracking bird.

Rarer than the Robin or the Audouin's Gull?

Well as previously posted Sean Nikon photographed an unusual Common Tern at Minsmere 5 days after the Audouin's Gull found by John Grant. It showed more than a passing resemblance to Eastern Common Tern Sterna hirundo longipennis but from a British perspective how rare is it? Well a recent article in Birding World (Volume 24 number 5) confirms the identity as an Eastern Common Tern and also places the record as a second following a bird photographed at Seaforth NR, Merseyside in May 2010 making it rarer than the White-throated Robin and from a Suffolk perspective equally as rare as the Audouin's Gull!
Its quite possible that is the same bird so perhaps we should all be on the look out for it later in the year on its return journey or even next year. This sub-species has the potential to be a future split so I am sure if a twitchable individual is found it will prove popular. Well done Sean for picking it out and realising it was something worth further investigation.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Storming Hartlepool for the Robin

Four days off work and what happens, I go back and news of a mega breaks...sods law. I have an understanding boss so by 10:30 I was heading north for the White-throated Robin. News came in steadily for most of the journey but as we neared our destination news became less and less frequent making for a somewhat nervous atmosphere. Just as we parked up news came that it the bird was showing so off we went only to be told it had flown in to the doctors garden that had a 12 foot wall running round it and no access.  After nearly two hours the bird had still not returned to is favoured area and thinks started to look bad. Suddenly news came that some birders were watching it from on top of a van around the corder. Off we set and we were greeted with a scene more akin to the storming of a fort, people were climbing various vehicles and ladders in the hope of seeing the bird. I was literally like a rat up a drain pipe and shimmied up a lamppost to peer over the wall and saw this cracking female rooting around a compost heap. I then joined a que for one of the ladders and enjoyed views of it again, this time sunbathing in the rose patch. This has to go down as one of the best twitches and one I will never forget. The bird behaved superbly and it too will be forever engrained in the little grey cells.

You can spot me at 1 second, i'm standing under the sign with a black jacket, dark jeans and short hair. Autographs by request.

White-throated Robin - Photos by Lee Woods (Birding Suffolk mastermind)

A few moths from recent days.

I am by no stretch of the imagination a moth expert but when I am around a trap that is being emptied I am a bit like a moth drawn to a flame, I have to give them a look. I was at Landguard and Minsmere recently when they were empting their moth traps and as usual I was interested in what they had caught. As a beginner I am most interested in the colourful and big moths and am concious that I don't get to drawn in, birding is enough for me heaven forbid I go dashing of for a moth, what next butterflies and dragonflies!?

Small Elephant Hawkmoth - Landguard

Elephant Hawkmoth

Eyed Hawkmoth

Peppered Moth

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Strange nesting places

Being the "bird man" of the company I work for I am often being asked what different birds are, brought baby birds, or a left a cup with a moth in and asked to identify it. This week I have been shown a couple of strange nesting places. The first was a Robin which has nested in a roll of material and the second was a Great Tit which has nested in a cigarette bin on the wall of one of the buildings, this bird has already had to claim on its household insurance after a fire took hold in one part of the nest after a cigarette butt was inadvertently dropped on to the nest. Luckily it was soon put out with a cup of water and the chicks have now hatched.

Robin nest

Sunday, 22 May 2011

longipennis Common Tern at Minsmere?

On the 14th May Sean Nixon photographed a very interesting Common Tern on south scrape at Minsmere. This bird has a suit of features that are good for longipennis race, which is an eastern race found from N.E Siberia to N.E China. In this race the underparts are much darker, similar to those found on Arctic Tern, the bill is all dark with no or only a slight redness at the base, and the legs are typically dark.

Longipennis? Common Tern    

The above picture of Sean's shows the dark bill, dark legs and darker underparts. Indeed the dark underparts are reminiscent of those exhibited by Aleutian and White-cheeked Tern and do indeed highlight the cheek area, the flight shot below highlights this feature even more.

Longipennis? Common Tern - Minsmere
The Minsere bird does look good for this race but I do wonder if the underparts are dark enough. Some more photos of this race can be found at the following links




A similar bird was present on and off last year so could this bird be the same individual? A review of the features of this race would be benifical and may shed some more light on to the history of this race in the U.K.

Thank you to Sean for permission to reproduce these photos and well done for being sharp eyed.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Not much about.

A late morning start, and as I was near minsmere I popped in on the off chance the red-rumped swallow was still about. However after scanning the reed bed from island mere for an hour it was evident that the bird was not present. Several swifts were hawkjng and it seems they have come in within the last few days.
Next stop was thorpeness but again this was quite, altough a small passage of hirundines kept my hopes of finding a red rump alive. Scanning the ever moving flock the odd pale rump only brouht house martins.
North warren south marsh also held several hirundines that were feeding low over the water as a rain storm pushed up from the south. Again no red rump was found but did keep me on my toes. I checked the gulls just in case but surprise surprise no Audouins Gull.
Next stop was hazelwood marshes, again birds were thin on the ground but a whimbrel and a egyptian goose were a nice find.
With the wind not swinging until late on in the week i think pickings will be thin on the ground, save a mega or two( well you have to keep positive).
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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Another superb Suffolk bird

Just as I was leaving work for my lunch I got a Bins message stating an adult Audouin's gull was sat on East scrape. Turbo boost engaged and 10 minutes later I was watching this superb bird from north Hide. Congratulations must go to Mr Grant for finding this bird, long predicted as a future addition to the Minsmere list.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A nice patch tick - May 4th

Leaving work I headed to thorpeness ever hopefull the white stork might drift south from minsmere. The skies stayed stork free but a message of a white-tailed eagle heading north over Leiston had me racing to the north end which gives good views towards Sizewell and beyond. I soon picked up a large bird being mobbed with my bins and views through the scope confirmed a patch, suffolk and british tick in the form of a white-tailed eagle, superb!! Strange thing was after watching it drift further north I was walking back across the common when I noted a House Sparrow...a patch tick for this part as they usually only occur around the houses to the south.
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More spoonage

After yesterday evenings skua action and with the weather conditions beong a mirror image I headed to Southwold for another sea watch. Watching from 6:10 - 8:30 I saw a further 6 Poms, 2 bonxies, 30+ fulmars and a close manxie and velvet scoter.
A walk to tinkers afterwards was a bit of a wader fest with 300+ bar wits, 8+ knot, 2 golden plover, dunlin, 4+ spot shank, 1 sanderling and 5+ greenshank.
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Saturday, 30 April 2011

spoonage time

A rather good day in all. After a late morning start I was given the heads up on the white-winged black tern that became a blacl tern which then morphed back in to a white-winged. As I was heading that way I thought it rude not to see this cracking species. Soon I was watching my fourth white-winger for minsmere and a supporting cast of some cracking fsp Bar-tailed Godwits made for a fantastic start. A Common Sandpiper was my first of the year as well. Next I headed to Hazelwood marshes where I added 2 Whimbrel and 25 Greenshank to the days tally. With Brian Small having a good early morning seawatching session at Southwold I thought I would try my luck at Thorpeness, and this proved to be a goos move. In just over an hour me and 2 other Suffolk birders recorded 10 Pomarine Skuas showing full tail spoonage illuminated in fantastic late afternoon light. We also recorded a lone Bonxie, 10 Fulmars,9 Whimbrel, 1 Little Tern, 2 Auks and a few Gannets.
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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Out and about.

Another early start at Minsmere with a walk around Thorpeness and Hazelwood marshes to follow produced highlights of 1 Whimbrel, 3 Bitterns (including 2 in a display flight), several smart male Ruff, and a few Swift at Minsmere. A singing Firecrest at Thorpeness lifted the spirits and showed superbly in the main section, other migrants were very thin on the ground due to the north wind. Hazelwood marshes was more productive with 15 Greenshank on the estuary, a lone Cuckoo but best of all was a Hobby that perched out in the open allowing the rather shockingly bad photo below. I blame the heat haze!!

Hobby - showed much better than the photo suggests.

Monday 25th - Minsmere

An early doors walk around Minsmere with a couple of birding mates and we were greeted with 2 Nightingales singing in the new day. North hide produced little aside from hundreds of Black-headed Gulls and a few reeves.
On the walk to east hide a Yellow Wagtail passed overhead and a female Eider was noted close in shore. East scrape provided plenty of interest with highlights being a drake Garganey, Caspian Gull, several Ruff, 4 + first summer Mediterranean Gulls, Little Tern and a few Black-tailed Godwit. Heading towards the levels another Yellow Wagtail headed north whilst the escaped Flamingo gave some good flight views. Highlight however was a Montague's Harrier that initially flew towards us along the beach before heading out to sea and carrying on north.


The levels themselves held 3 Whimbrel that promptly flew north but little else. 

Next we went to North Warren with the main highlight being 3 Hobbies hawking over the reedbed, but not much else.

Last stop of the day was East Lane which allowed me to photograph some of the Swallows that were perching on the fence around the car park. All in all it was a productive day in brilliant sunshine.

Swallows - East Lane.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

More spring migrants.

With a half day off work I headed to the coast to see what I could find. 1st stop was the south marsh at north warren, but with the exception of a few gulls was pretty birdless. I headed to the disused caravan park next and walked the back path to Margarets  wood. Whitethroats were much in evidence with up to 30 birds seen/heard. 3 Nightingales were also heard with 1 bird showing breifly. None where in full song giving only brief phrases. A adder was seen close to the path and even stopped to pose for a photo.
 A couple of superb Bullfinches flew over head as I walked back to the caravan park. Here Blackcaps were much more in evidence and a lone Garden Warbler kept a Lesser Whitethroat company in the north east corner. Another adder was seen on the back of the beach, and a brief sea-watch produced nothing.
After another look at south marsh I stopped at Hazelwood marshes. This produced some nice year ticks in the form of Hobby, Reed Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, House Martin and yet another Nightingale. A hornet was gathering wood from a fence post as I walked back. With 11 days off I am hoping for a bir of rain to drop some more birds in.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Oriental Turtle Dove

A couple of pictures of the Oriental Turtle Dove from Barsham can be found on the bird line East Anglia (Suffolk) page . Rather worryingly the bird seems to show cut primaries. Is this a sign of captive origin or of a bit of photoshopping? I have to say the evidence of the later is nothing more than speculation but in this digital age every possibility has to be investigated.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Possible Iberian Chiffchaff

James Kennerley has posted some excellent shots of the possible Iberian Chiffchaff from the weekend on his website. .

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

April 10th on the Suffolk coast

I met up with Lee to give a couple of sites a good grilling, truth is we ended up walking lots and seeing little. Thorpeness caravan park had the odd Chiffchaff and Blackcap but little else so we headed towards Sizewell and were rewarded with much of the same. A pied Chaffinch carried on the recent vein of finding aberrant plumaged birds whilst Willow Warblers brightened the mood with the song of the summer. Heading back to the caravan park a couple of Bullfinches called, and a Skylark done its best to impersonate something rarer. The allotments produced a couple of additions to the year list with an elusive Whitethroat sub-singing from the bottom of a bush whilst its cousin, a Lesser Whitethroat showed briefly before doing a bunk.
A walk around North Warren was next and to be honest although it was nice to have the air filled with the songs of summer migrants it some how felt a bit of a let down, perhaps my expectations are to high?
Stopping at the south marsh at North Warren, Lee found a superb adult Spoonbill, I almost certainly drove past it on the way to the caravan park but as I was running late I did not stop but noted a few white dots on the marsh as I passed.
A stop at Hazelwood marshes, and the area looked like it had lots of potential, maybe a Purple Heron would explode from the reeds or a Bee-eater would drift over, neither in fact just more of the same from earlier. The hide did provide a rather wonderful spectacle in the form of 2000+ Black-tailed Godwits in full summer plumage. A distant Buzzard species was seen towards Sudbourne and with periods of hovering certainly pointed towards Rough-legged but views were always distant. I have however never seen a common buzzard hover for any length of time but as it has been know according to the literature so I think it might be best to leave it as a probable.
With news of a possible Iberian Chiffchaff at halfway house Thorpeness I headed back but after searching came up with nothing except a Common Chiffchaff, but based on plumage detail was not the bird that had been trapped and ringed.
With a few days holiday coming up I hope to be knee deep in rares!!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Not a lot

An early afternoon walk along Martelsham creek and to be truthful there was little about. Admittedly the tide was high at the start of the walk but wader numbers were certainly down The odd Chiffchaff and colourful Black-tailed Godwits were a hint of spring as were 2 Swallows that passed overhead. The most notable sighting however was a pied Curlew that flew in from towards Waldringfeild and settled on fields with another group of Curlews.

Pied Curlew, note the pale bill.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Panasonic DMC GF-1

A month or so ago I got the chance to use a Panasonic DMC GF-1 and put it through its paces as a potential camera for digiscoping. I used the 14-45mm lens and all shots where hand held to the lens. its possible to shot using different aspect ratios and with the 14-45mm lens found the vignetting was greatly reduced at 16:9 ratio (wide screen). A few shots using my 45x lens were impressive given that when tested on other cameras this lens only works when the light is fantastic.

View of North Warren RSPB reserve south marsh.

Hand held shot using 30wwX lens the dark streak to the right hand side of the image is due to the camera being hand held and being slightly off line. A UCA would overcome this as it comes with a 52mm adaptor which will screw straight onto the 14-45mm lens of the Panasonic.    

Shot of a Collard Dove in less than ideal light conditions using the Swarovski 45x lens and 80mm HD scope. Zooming in with the 14-45mm lens increases vignetting , 14-18mm seems best.  
Blackbird - taken using 30wwX lens and camera set at 16:9 aspect, slight cropping to remove vignetting.

Collard Doves - same settings as Blackbird above.

The patch from a very different perspective

On the plane to Cyprus as luck would have it we flew right over my regular birding patch of Thorpeness, certainly a different perspective.
The patch - Sizewell just off centre and North Warren in bottom left.