Saturday, February 18, 2006

Short-eared Owl, Waunafon Bog 18th February

One of up to 5 SEOs that have wintered near Blaenavon. Distant, and fading light....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Water Rail at Forest Farm 9th February

Showing well from far hide, with approx 3 Bullfinches singing in the background. Nice!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Norfolk Round-up

We left at 6:30am and made good time to arrive at Welney late morning. On the way we'd managed to tick off a few species including stock dove. At the WWT we added a few more birds for the trip list viewed from the enormous hide. Species included were nine tundra bean geese, whooper and Bewick's swan, snipe, redshank and the usual ducks. Moving on we got to the Horsey area round 2:00pm and began our search for cranes. None were on show, but we did get pink-footed geese, hen harrier, marsh harrier, golden plovers and lapwings. We moved on to Horsey Mill where a Hume's leaf warbler had been reported all week. We scanned the copse for well over an hour. Geri caught a fleeting glimpse of the bird, but the rest of us missed it. On to Stubb Mill for the cranes coming in to roost, but we sensed we were too late. Sure enough, as we walked down the lane to the viewing spot, many birders were returning - most were good enough not to rub-it-in. On arrival, there was still a good crowd there and we were treated to 2 barn owls, a merlin, woodcocks and about 30 harriers in the air at the same time. Most were marsh harriers, but a few hen harriers too, plus a Harris hawk. No cranes! Having enjoyed a pleasant evening at the King's Arms, we set off for Morston Quay after breakfast for a long-staying little bunting. We spent a couple of hours searching to no avail. We did pick-up brent geese, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit on the way though. We moved on to Holkham where we faired better, with a flock of over 50 snow buntings and 6 shore larks at the Gap. We met a few birders on the way back to the car who'd just seen the little bunting, so we set off back to Morston, this time parking at Stiffkey Fen. Despite a thorough search and a few possible fleeting glimpses we failed to locate the LBJ. We set off for Choseley Drying Barns picking up grey partridges in Titchwell village. At the barns good numbers of corn buntings were on the wires, along with a few yellowhammers. We did not locate the Lapland buntings that were there. Next on to Thornham Harbour where a flock of 20 or so twites were on show. We got brief views in flight and on the ground before an over eager local scared them off by getting too close. Our day's birding finished at Warham Greens Saltmarsh where several hen harriers came in to roost. The day out concluded with a few pints in the Stiffkey Red Lion. And very nice it was too. The following morning before breakfast we made our way to Cley East Bank. We were soon on to some good birds including some Egyptian goose a fine spotted redshank. At the shingle bank we picked up a red-necked grebe, which was new for me. After breakfast it was on to Titchwell. A brambling and siskin at the feeders was a good start, though the reedbeds and pools were relatively quiet. Off-shore was a huge flock of scoters, but we only could id common scoters. Eider, sanderling, red-breasted merganser, knot were also ticked. Our next stop was Holme where we were soon on to a large flock of long-tailed ducks off-shore and another large flock of snow buntings. Wolferton Triangle was next up, to deposit seed for the golden pheasants, and on to Flitcham for little owls and tree sparrows. We soon located a little owl in the old oak at the farm, but here was no sign of the sparrows anywhere. We next travelled along to Massingham Heath for a rough-legged buzzard. Along the way we found our first red-legged partridges of the trip and no sooner had we located one covey we were on to another and another and another. We also added a freshly killed hare to the boot of the jeep. No luck with the buzzard however, and we were further disappointed at Wolferton with the absence of golden pheasants. We did add coal tit to the trip list though. We rounded the day off with a revisit to Chosely Drying Barns. We faired little better, but did get another barn owl and a male hen harrier chasing prey over the fields. We rounded the day off with a few pints in the Victoria at Holkham - a little more up market than our previous watering holes, and full of gamekeepers. The final day saw us at Salthouse after breakfast. We were soon on to several divers, mostly red-throated divers but we did get a couple of black-throated divers too. Another large flock of snow buntings entertained us on the marsh. We decided to head for Horsey once again in the hope of getting the Hume's leaf warbler and cranes. We failed once more, but managed terrific views of a female marsh harrier and two barn owls hunting at Stubb Mill. At around 2:00pm we decided to make our way back home with the plan of calling in at the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve for a male lesser scaup. On arrival the light was fading fast and we were presented with a very long channel to walk along for the bird. Once in the hide, there were literally hundreds of ducks on the water, most asleep and most of the dabbling variety. Our chances of locating bird were slim! We shouldn't have worried though as Hawkeye Slocombe was soon calling out "lesser scaup" having amazingly located it about 600m away. Sure enough, we all peered through his scope, and the grey mantle and distinctive head shape were there for us to see. As the light faded fast, we called it a day and headed home. All in all, despite dipping on some specialities, a great trip, with two lifers for me, good grub and beer and great company!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Little Owls in Cardiff, 5th February

Pair at a site on the edge of Cardiff at lunchtime. Showed well for at least 30 mins.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Black-throated Thrush Number 2

I managed to pop down to Swansea with Alec this morning to see the long-staying black-throated thrush. As I arrived at the gates of the field a couple of birders were on their way out having got good views of the bird. Sure enough as I joined the small crowd near the three canes the bird was feeding on the red berries. Just as I got my 'scope up it popped down out of view. Not to worry though as after about ten minutes it reappeared in the tree and was quite active until I left having watched it for another 10 minutes or so. It is clearly a different bird than the one in Somerset, with a strong black throat and chest. It was joined in the tree by a female blackcap feeding on the berries. A great bird, but not even a year tick! A slightly unusual site of eleven common gulls with a couple of black-headed gulls were on show feeding by the exit.