Monday, 26 September 2016

Six species of raptor at Buckenham and a Yellow-browed at Strumpshaw!

I had to take a huge builder's sack full of tree and bamboo clippings to Strumpshaw Tip this morning, so I thought I might as well have a walk round before the rain arrived: in the event a few decent birds presented themselves - albeit mostly distantly!

Almost the first sound I heard as I walked through the wooded area past reception was the 'chewy...chewy' call of a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was travelling with a small tit flock, so although I'm pretty sure I glimpsed it a couple of times, I didn't manage a photo. Carrying on towards the river, I bumped into Ben: he'd not only heard the bird but seen it too: he reckoned it was a well-marked individual.

Tower Hide Scrape was rather deep, so the only waders were several Snipe: lots of elegant Shovelers and dapper little Teal, however. A KIngfisher perched briefly on the 'fish trap' in front of the hide: I obtained some reasonable images at the sluice on the way back to the car.

A brief stop in Fen Hide added Whinchat and Bearded Tit to the day list, but, again, the water levels are very high at the moment. Four Chinese Water Deer frisked about along the cut rides.

Having dumped the rubbish, I carried on to Buckenham. Although everything was a little far away, I managed to pick out Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel hunting over the marshes and belt of woodland. No passerines to add to the tally, but some interesting hybrids among the Canadas and Barnacles. A couple of Snipe were in front of the hide (so about half a mile away!)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Migrating Martins!

Every time I looked from my office window today, I saw a Martin ('though not the old friend I used to bird with - no idea where he's migrated to!) At times there were dozens passing over in mixed groups of both Sand and House Martins: I must've seen at least a couple of hundred...

While I was grabbing a snap or two, I caught a small passerine passing the crescent Moon: again, soooooo close! Final picture is some of the crowd of House Sparrows that Linda has lured into the garden with regular feeding: they breed in the hedges in some numbers these days - most welcome return after the dramatic decline of a few years ago.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Glossy Ibis at Strumpshaw Fen

My birding chum Brian T is, of course, a Vol Ranger at the Fen. Today he was taking a walk round when the Glossy Ibis unexpectedly flew through: here's his mail to me and photo:-

The Glossy Ibis is back! Is it the same one which stayed over until a couple of weeks ago (sorry pic not very good -it was a long way off)?? Flew from Tower Hide direction towards Rockland just after 9am this morning - hopefully will return!!

It certainly looks to be the same juvenile. Sadly there is so much water in front of Tower Hide that the Ibis wasn't tempted to land for a poke about.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Dinner party! A trip down the Rhone...

As some of you may know, I used to co-own a hotel and am a trained chef. Not many things give me more pleasure than entertaining friends: in the past Linda and I threw some legendary soirees, for up to a dozen people. As we've grown older, we've finally realised that true friends can be numbered on the fingers of two hands, so these days we prefer to invite round people with whom we feel really comfortable and relaxed.

Tonight our good friends Sue and Peter are coming over for supper: since both enjoy a glass of wine (and are extremely knowledgeable!) I've decided to steer clear of the clarets tonight and offer a journey southwards down the Rhone Valley from Beaujolais / Chablis to Nimes and Languedoc.

The menu I've come up with is robust and Mediterranean in style: crab mousse served on the half-shell, herby 'meatballs' in a rich tomato, pepper and garlic sauce, with rosemary-roasted potatoes and some fabulous breads. Pudding is a chocolate ganache tarte with French fruits and cheeses.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Back on the patch: an unexpected Osprey at Strumpshaw!

A very brief session at Strumpshaw began in Fen Hide, where I met with Brian, Norman and Brian Shreeve. Plenty of good-natured banter, enlivened by an ever-present ('though distant) Kingfisher, several Herons, two Chinese Water Deer and a Cormorant or two.

After a while we decided to walk to the end of Sandy Wall to look for Bearded Tits: didn't connect with them, but I did pick out a distant Osprey flying south across the Yare.

Tower Hide was back to its usual depth, so no waders other than ten Snipe dozing on the grass in front of the hide.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Even further for even less!

Norman and Mike (another Strumpshaw regular) picked me up at 7.15 for another bash at the migrants: this time on the east coast.

Starting off at Winterton, we walked both the North and South Dunes, with only Small Copper, Hobby and Buzzard as definite rewards for our efforts. Lots of Stonechats and chiff-willows, as well as tantalising glimpses of an almost certain Yellow-browed Warbler below the Hermanus. Another teaser was a chunky, dove-grey warbler feeding on fruit in the same area. Its apparently broad bill made us think of Barred Warbler, but looking at the photos it seems more like a Garden Warbler. One curious occurrence: we were followed along the 'southern valley' by a large drone: no sign of the operator. I thought it was illegal to fly these large craft over public areas.

A move to Waxham added only Brent Goose to the day's tally, while a walk around Hickling - while pleasant in the Autumn sun - gave us just the usual egrets and waterfowl. One spot of colour was a mint-fresh Painted Lady...

So: nine miles in three different locations for little sign of any migration. Let's hope things pick up soon!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A morning on the North Coast: Dotterel at Sheringham, but little else...

Brian only had a small window of opportunity today (and the weather forecast wasn't hopeful) so we met early and were in Wells Beach car park by 8.30.

Despite a five mile walk out and back, and a long stake-out of the Dell, 'Bluetail Bushes' and Drinking Pool, all we found were several tit flocks containing some well-marked Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. We glimpsed a Yellow-browed and heard another calling, but that was it...

After coffee at Cley, we moved on to Sheringham, where a short walk along the coastal path found us joining a small group enjoying the long-staying Dotterel. Considering how closely people approached this bird last night (see RBA for photos!) and also how near parties of golfers parked their golf bags, the general mood was to stay back at the top of the overlooking hill. I did sneak around the side on the 'rough' to within 100m, but thought this was a case where a closer approach would have been perfectly acceptable: still - no need to get photographers a bad name!