Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Having seen the Hawfinch on the patch on Sunday I was very surprised not to find it still present yesterday morning after the abysmal weather. On returning this evening I was pleased to find it still feasting on berries and enjoying the evening sun.

1st Winter, note the barring on the lower flanks.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd - Thorpeness

With the forecast of something other than westerlies I was up and about early to catch the worm at Thorpeness, surely the forecast easterlies would deliver. The morning started well with my first Brambling of the year calling from trees in the middle section, whilst a smattering of Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats gorged on blackberries. A few Yellow Wagtails passed overhead as I walked along the beach and two Grey Herons also made their way south. After an hour or so it soon become apparent to myself and the other birders that had arrived that the place was not crawling with migrants and if anything was a little disappointing. The small field to the south had a good flock of Meadow Pipits with some 50+ birds but nothing else could be found in their ranks, but 4 jays heading north together was noteworthy. I decided to head to Margrets wood, having another 2 Bramblings on the way nut other than a lone Spotted Flycatcher here too seemed to be surprisingly birdless.
An hours seawatch provided a lone Manx Shearwater heading south but little else. With over night rain and strengthening winds forecast overnight I headed home in the hope of tomorrow bring more birds.

Another early morning and the forecast rain stopped just as myself and Lee arrived and the wind was a moderate easterly so a seawatch was first on the agenda whilst we gave the passerines time to wake up. Almost the first bird we spotted was a dark phase Long-tailed Skua heading north relatively close, this was shortly followed by a lone Sooty Shearwater tracking in the same direction. Two large shearwater were picked out heading north and  it soon become apparent they were Cory's Shearwaters! these superb birds were also picked up by other observers along the coast as they headed north. Lee soon found a Sabines Gull also heading north showing its tricoloured upperparts well.
Another observer alerted us to the presence of a Hawfinch that he had seen feeding ion the middle section, so being a patch tick I was keen to see it. After a few minutes of fruitless searching the bird was relocated and showed relatively well if a little concealed and seemed happy to gorge on the ripening fruits.
Back to a seawatch and over the next couple of hours I found a juvenile Sabines Gull, whilst more Sooty Shearwaters, Fulmars, Eider, 3+ Long-tailed Skua, Bonxie, Manx Shearwater, and a couple of Arctic Skuas kept us entertained. However with reports of Leache's PEtrels from up and down the cost I was keen to get a second patch tick for the day. After what seemed like ages I finally found one heading north as it sheared and glided over the rough sea, a superb end to a cracking weekend.

Spot the Hawfinch! 1of 2 patch ticks.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Short-billed Dowitcher 8Th September

Twitches have been in short supply this year with only 3 out of the county and a road trip with the boys is always a good giggle. Today we headed south for the Short-billed Dowitcher that had been present at Lodmoor in Dorset for a couple of days. We arrived a couple of hours after sunrise and it was cold, shorts perhaps not the best option. The dowitcher showed briefly but after 20 minutes or so came out and showed really well allowing for close scrutiny of all if features, it has to be one of the best looking waders I have seen for a long time. After taking it in for an hour or so we headed for Portland for the Monarch that had been reported the day before,  arriving on site just as news broke of it's continued presence.  At first it just sat with it's wings closed whilst it warmed up but after 20 minutes it flew around to allow a full appreciation of it's size and spectacular colours.
Next we headed for the Baillons Crake at Rainham and as the sun grew in strength the shorts were very welcome.  A long wait at rainham failed to produce the crake but did little to put a damper on a great day.

Monday, 3 September 2012

September 2nd - back to Landguard..again

Having jobs to do in the morning I managed to miss the Spanish Sparrow as it left its roost but headed over later in the morning. I searched the caravan park and Manor Road for over an hour and only really found a couple of descent sized Sparrow flocks, non of which held the male Spanish Sparrow. With only a handful of people looking I felt my best bet was to come back in the evening and try and see if I could find it before it went to roost.
I was just leaving my house at 5:15pm as I got a message to say the Spanish Sparrow was showing near its roost site, bugger. I was on site within 15 minutes but the bird had already crossed the road and flown in to bushes within the dock complex. A keen eyed birder soon found it roosting within the buddlea and I was able to see the bird as it shuffled around a preened, I hope to get back on another evening a bit earlier and catch it in the open before it dives of to roost.

Saturday 1st September

This morning was spent at Languard with the boys in the vain hope that the early morning drizzle may drop something in, after all this day last year saw an Arctic Warbler discovered on similar conditions! In reality birding was slow with the sea producing much of the action, the first few Wigeon headed south along with Teal and a few waders, whilst a distant skua sp headed north. A few Yellow Wagtails passed overhead but in general the land was devoid of migrants. On the common a Wheatear with a white tipped tail provided a bit of interest, but still proved just to be a Northern Wheatear. We headed south towards the customs house area and studied each sparrow intently but no Spanish.

Having just finished my evening meal the message of the re found Spanish Sparrow had me heading back to Landguard. The flock however seemed to settled for the night and their Spanish cousin failed to show itself in the fading light.