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Wednesday 30 November 2016

Dartford Warblers and a Great White Egret at Dunwich

Brian and Norman picked me up at a very frosty 7.10 am for a run down to Suffolk. We were hoping to connect with some of the decent birds that had been reported along the shingle at Dunwich, and managed to find one of the several resident Great White Egrets and a vast flock (2000+) of Scoter that contained at least one Velvet.

Try as we might, and despite the assistance of Garry Richardson, all the LBJs on the pool margins and beach were either Skylarks or Linnets...

Next stop was Dunwich Heath, where an hour's walk provided views of at least eleven Dartford Warblers, plus numerous Stonechats and a few Red Deer.

A move to Minsmere for coffee and scones added Cetti's Warbler and Green Woodpecker to the day list, but we missed the two confiding Bitterns by half an hour. Great to bump into lots of old friends, Rob Holmes and Duncan McNiven being most unexpected!

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Winter drawers on! A frosty morning at Strumpshaw.

No really: it was minus five at the Fen when I met Brian and Norman this morning: even two layers under my 'Jack Pyke' didn't completely keep out the cold. The upside of the low temperatures was that all the paths were rock hard, so we mooched around slowly in the hope of a Bittern or Redpoll. In the event there was little to set the pulses racing, but we did see a few interesting birds, including a mixed thrush flock that seemed to include some dark-billed continental Blackbirds. Overhead the USAF was keeping the sky safe for democracy....

Monday 28 November 2016

Bean Geese at Buckenham RSPB

Feeling a bit lethargic after the weekend - and given the beautiful weather first thing - I parked the car at Strumpshaw and walked round to Buckenham Marsh. To be honest, there was very little about, but it was nice to bump into a few familiar faces and discover a group of nine Taiga Bean Geese out in the middle of the marsh. It was wonderful to hear the constant sounds of whistling Wigeon and Teal, while skeins of Pinkfeet flew overhead: what a great part of Norfolk I live in!



Sunday 27 November 2016

Waxwings at Costessey

For those of you who are not lucky enough to live in Norfolk, this suburb to the south west of Norwich is pronounced 'Cossey' (much in the same way as Happisburgh / 'Haysboro' and Wymondham / 'Windum'!)

Today - after two attempts - I finally caught up with the long-staying flock of 30+ Waxwings that are feeding confidently on rowan berries on the edge of a sports facility in Jerningham Road.

The first time Linda and I rolled up (at around 9.00am) only Yare Valley stalwart Dave Rounce was on site: he'd seen the flock, but an unfortunately-directed football scared them off. We did watch them do a high-level fly-past before we had to leave. When we returned a couple of hours later a crowd of perhaps thirty people were watching the Waxwings at close range. Unfortunately the light had deteriorated, so the shots I obtained weren't as good as I'd hoped: but even so, most welcome!

Saturday 26 November 2016

It's about time!

At the moment I'm suffering from yet another revolting cold, so having spent the afternoon lying on the sofa watching Lewis Hamilton achieving his 61st pole, I began idly to flick through my old bird logs. For many years - before I discovered the joys (!) of bird photography -  I kept a virtually daily written and illustrated record of the birding trips that Linda, I and our friends made around the country. Now I don't have a very large self-found list, but I paused in my nostalgic musings to reflect on what was probably the best bird I've discovered so far....

Shortly after the first Ring-billed Gull for Norfolk was identified on the ice at the University Broad and a second (or the same again!) turned up in Bure Park, Gt. Yarmouth, I found a third on the shingle at Cley. I struggled to persuade my companions that we really were looking at a scarce American gull, so I scuttled off to the Coastguards and alerted Mark Golley who was, I think, virtually resident there at the time. Within a couple of minutes he'd confirmed my identification.

The bird was submitted to the County Recorder and - as often seemed to happen in those days - it duly appeared in the NB&M Report as 'Ring-billed Gull : M. Golley et al.'   Hmmmmm!

The point of this posting is to reflect on the fact that, since 'my bird' in November, 1992, there hasn't been another in Norfolk, as far as I'm aware: it's about time, isn't it? With all these westerly gales, you'd think a few more would've graced the East Anglian beaches!

Friday 25 November 2016

All about the raptors: six species at Buckenham in thirty minutes!

I had a very brief window this morning: since I had to be near Buckenham Marsh, I thought I'd have a quick scan from the path down to the hide.

The only geese I saw were feral: Greylags, Barnacles, Canadas and some interesting hybrids. Lots of Wigeon now: just how many was obvious when one of the resident Peregrines put them up!

The Peregrine was the first of a rush of Raptors I collected - although the photo's aren't great, I managed to see Marsh Harrier, two Buzzards, two Kestrels, Sparrowhawk and Little Owl. Other things of interest included two flocks of Fieldfares and a pair of Swans with completely black bills: could they be the Trumpeters from Suffolk on a day trip?