30
Oct
14

Fighting their way in

Over the past week there have been small parties of Starlings coming in off the sea; some more exhausted than others. We’ve been picking them up through optics way out and following them in. Some are so tired they just crash onto the beach others look as if they could do it all again. One flock we saw were dipping lower and lower to the water. We waited with anticipation to see if they would make it … they did … but only just. There was a spontaneous applause from the group I was with in sheer appreciation of the effort. Nature and Naturalists at their best.

This morning it was the Thrushes turn. Even before I’d got out of bed I could hear the clucking of Blackbirds in the garden. I went to the window and counted thirty and that was only the ones I could see. There had been a fall. The Blackbirds were continental long dark billed wary birds. I was outside quickly. More Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfare than I could count; in the garden, flying overhead and dropping from the sky. Then as soon as it started it stopped. Then another wave came in all fighting the south westerly. Some of the Blackbirds rested, fed and bathed in the garden pond before moving on southward towards Suffolk and no doubt beyond.

2014 10 28 Starling Trimmingham Norfolk_Z5A0185 2014 10 30 Blackbird Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A0368

 

28
Oct
14

peeping

Peeping out of a bush the other day was a lovely Red backed Shrike.

Everyone craves for the colourful males; and they are splendid. For me however, I like the tones and scalloped edges of the first year birds.

2014 10 22 Red backed Shrike Lowestoft Suffolk_Z5A9514

 

26
Oct
14

Grey Phal.

On several tours recently Grey Phalaropes have made an appearance. They always remind me of wind-up toys; some sort of clockwork spinning top. I particularly liked the one that spent a little time at Cley recently. We saw it on several tours and I enjoyed photographing it.

2014 10 17 Grey Phalarope Cley Norfolk_Z5A8714

24
Oct
14

A Whale of a time

You would think a very  very showy Cetti’s Warbler, a subtly marked beautiful female Ring Ouzel and sixty odd other species was enough for a mornings bird watching to throw at us? How wrong could I have been?

We were on our tour to Minsmere in Suffolk yesterday and my guests were already pleased with what they had seen. Little did we know there was so much more to come.

Our bird list for the day was escalating quickly but on reaching the sea I scanned the horizon only to find it disappointingly bereft of birds. I scanned again. Was that a dark shape I just saw? Studying the sea closely it reappeared and then went down below the waves again. Although it was a long way out it was definitely a cetacean; a large one at that. It was facing me and looked broad as it surfaced again. I know that shape well. A clear bushy blow discounted Minke. When it turned side on at the next surfacing the stubby fin confirmed we were watching a Humpback; Suffolk’s second ever. We watched it for quite a while and enjoyed the moment. Judging the appearances there may have been another cetacean nearby but of this I remain unsure.

The Stoat chasing a Rabbit almost around our feet during our picnic lunch was a delight to watch; the predator at least having the decency to despatch his quarry out of sight. The day was turning into a ‘mammal day’.

Perhaps for my guests the icing on the cake was the Otter we watched surfacing and surprising the Teal and Wigeon flock. For me … it had to be finding that long winged new-englander lounging offshore. It made my year!

 

Humpback Whale _MG_1574

Here’s one I photographed earlier!

 

23
Oct
14

Small giant

So small yet so tenuous; this small Goldcrest had no doubt flown the North Sea before refuelling in cliff top bushes. It never ceases to amaze me why birds, especially ones as small as this, put themselves at risk in such a big way.

2014 10 22 Goldcrest Waveney RC Norfolk_Z5A9115

 

20
Oct
14

crossing flightpaths

Sometimes the improbable comes when you least expect it.

We achieved a good number of scarce and rare birds on the Isles of Scilly Tour earlier this month. It has to be said so far it’s not been a classic year; although there was enough to keep us entertained. One moment however will linger a long time in the minds of those of us that witnessed it.

We were walking up Buzza Hill from Porthcressa Bay on St Marys. Having just seen a Brambling we were waiting for it to reappear below us when a Kingfisher flew at speed along the shore. Not an unusual sight on Scillies, we saw several while we were there. However, it was the demise of this particular Kingfisher that was unusual. From high above us we saw a Peregrine stooping. The two birds were destined to meet. In a flurry of feathers the Peregrine didn’t waver as it snatched the Kingfisher from the air and flew on with it’s colourful payload.

2014 10 06 Peregrine St Marys Isles of Scilly Cornwall_Z5A6522

18
Oct
14

Birds and Butterflies

On our way to Penzance for the Scillies Tour the other week we took a small detour to the Devon coast. Amid the coastal fields we easily found our target; Cirl Buntings. Perched in bushes and feeding on seed crops in the fields they were wonderful to watch. However, also amid the fields were something I didn’t expect, or at least not in the numbers that were present. Clouded Yellow Butterflies were everywhere. More than I have seen in one place before. Although they do breed within the UK they are primarily an immigrant and the majority of overwintering adults and larvae are killed off by our cold wet winters. To see them everywhere we looked was a real treat.

2014 10 02 Cirl Bunting Prawl Point Devon_Z5A5295

2014 10 02 Clouded Yellow Prawl Point Devon_Z5A5338

 




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