Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Red-necked Phalarope at Minsmere and other delightful bits and pieces...

Since 'Cleggy' is still in Bavaria, it was just Norman and me who drove south east for a day's birding in Suffolk. First stop was Minsmere's East Hide, where -  eventually, and with the aid of visiting birder Kim, we located the long-staying juvenile Red-necked Phalarope lurking behind an island. After a while it deigned to show itself and - although a little distant - it was fascinating to watch. Other birds in this part of the reserve included Little Stint and Spotted Redshank, while the walk to and past the Sluice added Stonechat and Kingfisher to the tally.

As we approached South Hide, a family party of Bearded Tits allowed closer views than we'd earlier 'enjoyed' from the Sandy Wall: still a degree of patience was required due to the stiff breeze.

A walk out to Island Mere was unproductive, as was a slog around the Blyth Estuary from the White Hart to the hide: just a mixed flock of Knot, Redshank and both Godwits. As we were climbing back into the car, a group of  raptors rose up from a distant belt of woodland: Buzzard and Marsh Harriers were certainly present, but what about the whopper in the grainy photo? Big enough to be a White-tailed Eagle?

You got me spinning, baby: baby I'm in a trance...

Some of you may know this is a couple of lines from my signature song ''Knock on Wood': it'll be in my set at Christmas.
It seemed appropriate for today's star bird: the delightful (but distant!) juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Minsmere.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Water Vole and hovering Kingfishers at Strumpshaw!

I guess most birders have watched a Kingfisher hovering, but - to non-birders - it's quite a surprise to see just how well and for how long they can do it! I timed this one (using exif data) at 32 seconds!

I had a short spell at the Fen this morning, starting at 7.00am and finishing at 10.00. The usual Mötley Crüe were there, hoping for Bearded Tits - but they failed to appear! Apart from the Kingfishers (three!) and the regular Water Rail it was fairly quiet: the Water Vole showed well, while Mistle Thrush, a pair of displaying Sparrowhawks and three Buzzards were best of the rest. Still lots of Willow Emeralds about!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Arctic Warbler at Wells Woods

Linda and I were up and out before six thirty and seawatching from the shelters at Sheringham half an hour later. Despite the brisk northerly winds and rain squalls, all we saw were hundreds of Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall, with a few Pintail and Scoter for luck! There were, of course, lots of Gannets, but no Shearwaters or Skuas...

We made a move to Cley and trudged out to the Centre Hides: Bernard Bishop chatted to us through the shutters, but his presence didn't seem to worry the waders: a flock of Dunlin, Little Stints (4+) and a Curlew Sandpiper came close enough for photography. No sign of the Grey Phalarope, however..

Last throw of the dice was a speedy visit to Wells Woods. A short walk and very brief wait and we soon located yesterday's Arctic Warbler. This beautiful little sprite (a new bird for Linda!) was thoughtful enough to pop up for photos of its long, pale supercilium. Nice to meet old friend Bob Walker, looking no different from when he was my best man twenty-odd years ago!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Buckenham RSPB: five species of raptor in ten minutes!

I grabbed a quick session at Buckenham Marshes just before lunch (I wanted to be home in time to watch Lewis Hamilton win in Singapore - not disappointed!) Too much water and too many dog-walkers for anything on the deck, but, while chatting with local patcher Mike, five species of raptor were hunting over the marshes: Hobby, Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel!

I stopped off very briefly at the Fen on my way home, but still managed to see the resident Water Vole and half a dozen Willow Emeralds!


The Moon, Venus and a UFO in the dawn sky...

I tend to be an early riser - 5.00am is usual - which suits many of my interests. Today I glanced from the office to see a particularly good example of 'The New Moon in the Old Moon's arms' This beautiful phenomenon occurs when the reflected light from the Earth illuminates the unlit portion of the Moon's disc. Since I could also see Venus peeping over the clouds, I decided to take some photographs.

When I used the higher power lens (300m and 1.4 converter) I could see a bright object just above the Moon. I took three photos as it moved right, brightened and 'stretched' before speeding away to the south. Most intriguing! It wasn't the ISS, an Iridium flare or a star (the Moon is in Cancer, with no bright stars nearby)

Good to hear both Little and Tawny Owls calling nearby!