Sunday, February 19, 2012

....a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show !

After leaving Dan and Lewis and a fruitless visit to the Heliport and Water Treatment Works on Cardiff foreshore Richard and myself decided to finish off an already great day with a visit to Sluice Farm in the hope off catching up with some Short-eared Owls.
As we approached Sluice Farm I spied a SEO hunting over the fields alongside the main road and and after quickly parking on the grass verge we were soon on  two owls hunting in really good light from about 15.30.
Both made kills and after about 45mins one disappeared and the other perched up in a tree for a while before flying off back over the wharf.
As the light started to fade we picked up the call of a Little Owl but as it was coming from private land we couldn't investigate any further.
What a great end to what had already been a brilliant day,a "lifer" in the bag and some reasonable owl pics to finish off.

Common Yellowthroat,Rhiwderin,Gwent

After waiting for early news that the bird was still present (lazy I know!) I picked up fellow "togger" Richard "Smudger" Smith at Junc 34 on the M4 and then Dan and his RSPB colleage and friend Lewis at Dan's house and we were soon arriving at the community centre car park at Rhiwderin where we just managed to get the last parking space.
After obtaining some directions from visiting birders and throwing our contribution into the "charity" bucket we were soon trudging up the fields to join the massed ranks of twitchers (approx 150 when we arrived at 09.45) and quickly got a brief flight view of the bird as it dived into a holly bush and then flew into the adjacent field.
For the next few hours we all pursued (in the nicest use of the word !) the bird up the field as it worked the hedgerow from one end of the field to the other.
It only gave the briefest of views each time it emerged from the undergrowth before again disappearing from view.
This is the most difficult and frustrating bird that I have tried to photograph and after a few hours myself and Richard had only a few record shots to show for our efforts,a shame really as the light was really excellent just for a change.
We'll probably make a few more visits when the novelty of the "twitch" has worn off and the numbers of visitors dwindles,that is if the bird hangs around,hopefully it will.
I have to add that the twitch was very well organized and "policed" by the Gwent birders and huge thanks to them all for doing such a great jobl,all of the birders present were very well behaved and at no time was the welfare of the bird threatened.
Dan and Lewis had to get back and so we left at about 13.15 and after dropping them off at Dan's we headed for the Heliport in search of the two Bonaparte's Gulls.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Day out around Cardiff"

With a good forecast last Saturday and a chance of nice light for a change I fancied a day out around Cardiff and started by meeting Cliff "Tiger" Woodhead down at Cardiff Heliport in an attempt to try and connect with the Bonaparte's Gull that has been around for a few weeks but proving elusive.
It certainly proved elusive for us and after a couple of hours we were well into "dipping" mode,a phone call and a text as the "grapevine" got going alerted us to a "Redhead" Smew at Hendre Lake,St Mellons and we were soon getting some great views of the dapper little sawbill.
The light was too harsh if anything "burning out" the white tones but I managed a few reasonable record shots although the bird never came really close enough to get a "crippler".
Alex Bevan was already there and we were soon joined by Steve Hinton and Rob Mitchell who were also hoping to get some good shots.
Cliff had to get to Coed Y Bedw by mid-day and I decided to head for Cardiff Bay and then Cosmeston for the BN Grebe and Lesser Scaup but on passing Sluice Farm couldn't resist having a quick look for a couple of Short-eared Owls.
RGW was pretty quiet although I did see one owl in flight and accidentily "flushed" another as I walked across to the foreshore to get the sun behind me.
I noticed another photographer who turned out to be Cate Barrow who had put on a great presentation back in January for the GWPC and who proved to be great company for the afternoon,we both managed a few shots of SEOs although they were not as active as they had been on my last visit in early December 2011.
One of the owls was favouring the fields on the road side of the wharf and perching up on trees and I managed a couple of record shots in the growing gloom albeit pushing the ISO to 1000 although the camera seemed to cope quite well.
I didn't make Cardiff Bay or Cossie but then again it gives me a couple of targets for the coming weekends.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Norfolk Trip List, Winter 2012

Here's our combined trip list for this year's annual trek to Norfolk.

We dipped Rough-legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike, and didn't go for Ross' Goose, and of course the Western Sandpiper had buggered off before we arrived.  Our regular annual ticks of Twite and Whooper Swan are missing and Purple Sandpipers don't really over-winter in Norfolk, do they?

We did less seawatching this year, which may explain the absence of Gannet, Razorbill and Black-throated and Great Northern Divers.  A Red-necked Grebe turned up the day we left.  Golden Pheasant was invisible once again.
  1. Mute Swan - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  2. Taiga Bean Goose - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  3. Pink-footed Goose - Holkham Freshmarsh, Norfolk
  4. European White-fronted Goose - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  5. Lesser White-fronted Goose - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  6. Greylag Goose - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  7. Canada Goose - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  8. Dark-bellied Brent Goose - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  9. Egyptian Goose - Strumphaw, Norfolk
  10. Shelduck - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  11. Wigeon - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  12. Gadwall - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  13. Teal - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  14. Mallard - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  15. Pintail - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  16. Shoveler - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  17. Pochard - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  18. Tufted Duck - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  19. Eider - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  20. Long-tailed Duck - Titchwell, Norfolk
  21. Common Scoter - Holkham Gap, Norfolk
  22. Velvet Scoter - Titchwell, Norfolk
  23. Goldeneye - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  24. Smew - Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  25. Red-breasted Merganser - Titchwell, Norfolk
  26. Red-legged Partridge - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  27. Grey Partridge - Titchwell, Norfolk
  28. Pheasant - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  29. Red-throated Diver - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  30. Little Grebe - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  31. Great Crested Grebe - Cosmeston Lakes CP, Glamorgan
  32. Slavonian Grebe - Titchwell, Norfolk
  33. Fulmar - Hunstanton, Norfolk
  34. Cormorant - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  35. Bittern - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  36. Little Egret - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  37. Grey Heron - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  38. Marsh Harrier - Stubb Mill, Norfolk
  39. Hen Harrier - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  40. Sparrowhawk - Holkham, Norfolk
  41. Buzzard - Strumphaw, Norfolk
  42. Kestrel - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  43. Peregrine - Thornham, Norfolk
  44. Water Rail - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  45. Moorhen - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  46. Coot - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  47. Crane - Stubb Mill, Norfolk
  48. Guillemot - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  49. Oystercatcher - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  50. Avocet - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  51. Ringed Plover - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  52. Golden Plover - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  53. Grey Plover - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  54. Lapwing - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  55. Knot - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  56. Sanderling - Titchwell, Norfolk
  57. Dunlin - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  58. Ruff - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  59. Jack Snipe - Titchwell, Norfolk
  60. Snipe - Thornham, Norfolk
  61. Woodcock - Hickling, Norfolk
  62. Black-tailed Godwit - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  63. Bar-tailed Godwit - Titchwell, Norfolk
  64. Curlew - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  65. Spotted Redshank - Thornham, Norfolk
  66. Redshank - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  67. Turnstone - Hunstanton, Norfolk
  68. Black-headed Gull - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  69. Common Gull - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  70. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  71. Herring Gull - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  72. Great Black-backed Gull - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  73. Feral Pigeon - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  74. Stock Dove - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  75. Woodpigeon - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  76. Collared Dove - Strumpshaw, Norfolk
  77. Barn Owl - Holme, Norfolk
  78. Little Owl - Flitcham, Norfolk
  79. Tawny Owl - Hickling, Norfolk
  80. Short-eared Owl - Holme, Norfolk
  81. Kingfisher - Thornham, Norfolk
  82. Green Woodpecker - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  83. Great Spotted Woodpecker - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  84. Skylark - Burnnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk
  85. Shore Lark - Holkham Gap, Norfolk
  86. Meadow Pipit - Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk
  87. Pied Wagtail - Thornham, Norfolk
  88. Wren - Strumpshaw, Norfolk
  89. Dunnock - Buckenham Marshes, Norfolk
  90. Robin - Fen Drayton, Cambirdgeshire
  91. Blackbird - Fen Drayton, Cambirdgeshire
  92. Fieldfare - Fen Drayton, Cambirdgeshire
  93. Song Thrush - Fen Drayton, Cambirdgeshire
  94. Redwing - Fen Drayton, Cambirdgeshire
  95. Mistle Thrush - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  96. Bearded Tit - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  97. Long-tailed Tit - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  98. Blue Tit - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  99. Great Tit - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  100. Coal Tit - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  101. Treecreeper - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  102. Nuthatch - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  103. Jay - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  104. Magpie - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  105. Jackdaw - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  106. Rook - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  107. Carrion Crow - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  108. Starling - Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
  109. House Sparrow - Strumphaw, Norfolk
  110. Tree Sparrow - Flitcham, Norfolk
  111. Brambling - Flitcham, Norfolk
  112. Chaffinch - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  113. Greenfinch - Titchwell, Norfolk
  114. Goldfinch - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  115. Siskin - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  116. Linnet - Thornham, Norfolk
  117. Lesser Redpoll - Titchwell, Norfolk
  118. Arctic Redpoll - Titchwell, Norfolk
  119. Common Crossbill - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  120. Hawfinch - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  121. Bullfinch - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
  122. Reed Bunting - Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
  123. Lapland Bunting - Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk
  124. Snow Bunting - Holkham Gap, Norfolk
  125. Yellowhammer - Choseley, Norfolk
  126. Corn Bunting - Choseley, Norfolk
In addition, to these birds we also saw Roe Deer; Chinese Water Deer; Grey Squirrrel; Rabbit; Brown Hare; Weasel and Stoat.