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.

video 

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.
Adder
 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.

Hornet

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 http://www.birdlineeastanglia.co.uk/ . 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. http://www.pbase.com/jameskennerley/iberian_chiffchaff .

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.