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Thursday 31 August 2017

Vizmig: Golden Plovers and Buzzards over the Heath

Actually, Linda and I saw the Buzzards (a group of four) just before the Blofield Heath slip road from the A47. The Golden Plovers, however, were heading east towards Hemblington this morning: in the past there have been some good assemblies of these delightful waders on the harvested cereal fields near the Church. Other birds of note were two Hobbies, three Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk over the garden this morning.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Stone Curlews, Curlew Sandpipers, Spoonbills and much more...

Brian and Norman were keen to catch up with the Stone Curlew congregation, so first stop was the location visited by Linda and me a couple of days ago. The rain held off and, gratifyingly, there were 140+ Stonies mooching around on the roadside field.

We headed north-east, picking up a Merlin near Ringstead before arriving at Holme. Sad to say there was absolutely nothing in view, so we drove the few miles to Titchwell, staying ahead of the showers. A walk out to Parrinder Hide gave us terrific views of five smart Curlew Sandpipers, as well as a couple of Spoonbills, two Yellow Wagtails and a Bearded Tit. Plenty of 'bread and butter' waders too: Knot, Ruff, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Grey Plover and squillions of Black-tailed Godwits.

As it began to rain, we headed home via Cley: a run out to Bishop's Hide gave us views of a Green Sandpiper and some lovely Godwits (many of which flew off to join Canada Geese on a stubble field near the Reception Centre) Nice to meet professional violinist Paul Barritt,in the hide, who entertained and educated us with stories of his fascinating career.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Strumpshaw Fen: Kingfishers, Water Rails and a distant Osprey...

Linda joined Brian and me for our regular walk around this morning: an early start saw us in Fen Hide by 7.00, where we bumped into Ann and Brian Shreeve. Lots of Little Egrets and Cormorants, as well as a very confiding Water Rail. A couple of Marsh Harriers were noteworthy: one had green tags 'XH', the other was a really strikingly-coloured male with a large white rump patch.

A move to Tower Hide added a pair of Willow Emeralds to the day list, as well as three Kingfishers. These were pretty much silhouetted most of the time, but fascinating to watch...

After chatting with Ben on the river bank, we continued round towards the pump, catching sight of a very distant Osprey, carrying a fish away from Rockland Broad.

Monday 28 August 2017

Pectoral Sandpiper and Osprey at Buckenham RSPB

OK - yesterday's bird wasn't a Pec Sand: I know this because I saw the genuine article today! I didn't want to miss out on a Yare Valley year tick, so I took a stroll down to the hide at Buckenham this afternoon, where I came across local patcher Murray S. He pointed out a Kingfisher trying to keep cool among the reeds and told me he'd seen the Pectoral Sandpiper earlier in pretty much the same place as yesterday's 'Pectoral Ruff'!

After a short wait (enlivened by Murray finding a Little Stint dozing on the distant pool) the Pec wandered out from the reed fringes and was immediately recognizable. I'm afraid the lady from Cambridge was dead right yesterday: the legs of that bird were too long. Hard to gauge when it's been a year since you last saw the species.

Walking back to the level crossing (through which passed an authentic steam locomotive - 'Tornado', I think) Murray and I were treated to a real raptor-fest. First a Kestrel and two Peregrines, then three Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier and finally - and best of all - the recently-reported Osprey, heading south towards Rockland.


Venus: a splendid sight in the dawn sky!

Our neighbours to the east have finally trimmed their towering Leylandii hedge down to normal dimensions: it was about 6 metres high and 3 metres thick! As a result, I now have a decent view of the eastern sky. At the moment Venus, our twin planet (in size only!) is a glorious sight before dawn: it's the brightest object in the sky by a long way and even a small telescope will show its phases. Well worth a look!

Sunday 27 August 2017

Pectoral Sandpiper at Buckenham Marshes

Following a morning's browsing (very productive!) at the Harleston Antiques Street Market and an afternoon enjoying Lewis Hamilton's fifth victory of the season, I dashed across to Buckenham to see if I could find the reported Pectoral Sandpiper.

Despite being told the bird had flown by the first two people I met, a wader on the large pool to the west of the track appeared to have the right credentials. I watched in isolation for a while, before being joined by a group of very pleasant birders from Cambridge: they'd been in the hide, from where the putative Pec was hidden by the reeds.

Always good to see an unusual wader on the local patch and to enjoy it in the company of some thoroughly nice people!

I have had several e-mails this morning from people who I know and trust, suggesting the bird in the photo is a Ruff: in personal mitigation, all I can say is several people were happy with it being a Pec, and, on this occasion, I didn't have my scope with me. We live and learn.

I've enhanced the contrast on the photos and the bird does seem to have an obvious transition between buff and white (albeit perhaps not in the right place, though!) And yes: I do know the bottom bird is a Snipe!