Archive for the 'norfolk birding' Category

30
Dec
18

2018 – the best bits

2018 for me set off being a somewhat muted year but rapidly escalated into something as special as it gets. Finding someone special to share my life was a revelation that I didn’t expect. The downside of that is a whole planet separates us. 2019 will be spent putting that right.

One discovery for me in 2018 has been the state of Victoria in Australia. The pull of this part of such a remote continent has been extreme. It’s undulating landscape, amiable weather, compelling wildlife and of course one special inhabitant have made this the most special place I’ve ever been. Australia is just the best. My two months here within 2018 have been the most outstanding part of my personal year. Within that two months Tania has taken me to some fabulous places. Mountains, remote bushland, deep dark eucalypt forests, small islands and open wide beaches. However, one place stands out in my mind as it holds birds that have been a part of my life for so long in the UK. Rare birds. Birds that blew to the UK as waifs and strays. Birds such as Red necked Stints and Sharp tailed Sandpipers. In Victoria, Werribee has a water treatment plant holding these birds in mind boggling numbers. Numbers I could only have dreamed about. Who would have thought a sewage plant would have topped my years best bits… but it has. It even topped the Beluga in the Thames!

But what of my professional year. There have been some great times. Scilly once again was terrific, so was Wales, the Farnes were at their best and the Scottish tours were formidable. Picking the best? … well that’s easy. The 2018 Mammal Tour of the UK. Without doubt the best tour I’ve ever done. Some fabulous wildlife; Minke Whales and Dolphins of three species you could have touched. Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and Badgers at arms length. However, to single out one moment of the tour I would have to go to a small beach at the fishing port of Wick on the Scottish East coast. Reading books from being a child through to adulthood enables everyone to conjure up dreams. Bucket lists. Events to experience. Things to see, places to go. I crossed off number one on my own bucket list on that small beach last May. My guests and I experienced the sight of a Walrus in British waters. OK it’s not the cuddliest looking animal you’ll ever come across. But hell … what an animal!

Roll on 2019. Happy New Year.

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25
Nov
18

Raptor

As we walked down the dunes in East Norfolk the other week a large raptor was hovering in front of us. Although Common Buzzards will frequently hover in a headwind the only buzzard to habitually hover kestrel style is a Rough legged Buzzards. A quick check with the bins and sure enough it was a Rough leg showing a nice black belly and a white proximal area on the tail. This winter visitor is a big bird but still warranted some mobbing by a Marsh Harrier as well as one of the local Crows.

12
Nov
18

Light and easy

Pallid Swifts within Norfolk during November are regular but always a little contentious. They are never easy to distinguish from Common Swifts. Even photographs can be a little confusing and it’s not too difficult to inadvertently change a common to a pallid during processing. Time must be taken to watch the birds in a variety of light from various positions. It’s only then that distinguishing features can be clinched such as the dark eye, the darker saddle and underbody, darker primaries and leading edge of the wing that contrast with paler coverts and secondaries, the paler head and throat and the slightly shallower tail fork as well as paler feather edgings on the flanks. The feature of a blunter wing tip on Pallid is not as easy to distinguish as literature states and in my opinion varies from bird to bird. I guess it is one of those features that is dependant on it’s attitude in the air.

A message from Ben today stating he had a Pallid hawking along the cliff top at Overstrand saw me make a diversion from the shops in Cromer to the cliffs above the golf course. The light was immaculate as it frequently is in Norfolk and we were looking north to watch the bird hawking in front of the cliffs. Although relatively distant the bird’s milky coloured plumage was immediately apparent. However it took a while for the bird to come closer so the other features could be seen but in the end the identity of the bird was unquestionable.

Today’s Swift was in the company of a white rumped hirundine. Shame it was only a House Martin!

 

08
Nov
18

Stealing the Show

We were waiting for the Stejneger’s Stonechat to come a little closer last week when this little chap decided to make an appearance. Not normally prone to dancing across sunlit meadows this Water Rail had obviously not read the books!

12
Oct
18

Northerly Winds

I organised a migration day out on Saturday. As it filled up straight away I thought I’d organise another for the following day. Saturday and Sunday became a migration weekend. With strong Northerly winds we were expecting something special and we weren’t disappointed. The Saturday seawatch gave us wildfowl galore as Teal, Eider, Brent, Pinkfeet and Shelduck streamed passed us punctuated with regular Gannets. Manx and Sooty Shearwaters put in an appearance as did the odd Arctic Skua and Red throated Diver. We even managed a Scaup giving excellent views with a side act of bobbing Jack Snipe. However it was the calm after the storm on the Sunday when passerines started to crop up. Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, Yellow browed Warblers and a Barred Warbler. A beautiful male Hen Harrier delighted us with a flypast but not after it had been harried by a persistent Merlin, all against a background of leaving birds such as Spoonbill.

Next year I think a migration weekend is on the cards!

01
Oct
18

Wader Passage

An excellent wader passage this autumn in North Norfolk. The likes of these Curlew Sandpipers were typical.

18
Sep
18

Spat

The feeding behavior of waders here in North Norfolk is sometimes interesting to watch. It’s not impossible to find a flock of Ruff feeding in complete harmony side by side and then on another occasion it seems as though they’re at war. These two Ruff were having a particular vicious spat with one limping away from the encounter.




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