Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Norfolk again...via Staines!

Ed and I decided to go and see the brown shrike at Staines moor. So on Saturday morning we left his house at 6am and arrived there at 7am right in the heathrow flight path!! Cetti’s warbler was heard on the way but the target did not show initially. However we didn’t have to wait too long as the bird popped out on the side of a gorse bush – what a great bird!!

terrible record shot (must get digiscoping equip!):

We stayed and watched the bird for about an hour then set of to West Runton in Norfolk for the short toed lark. We were really lucky again as a group of people were already on it and we enjoyed brief but good views. Here is a record shot although I can appreciate it could be ANY bird..

From here we went to Salthouse to see the snow goose and try to take some wader shots. Saw the goose and took a few pics but not really much here of note yet…

After Salthouse we went to Holme to search for yellow browed warbs which is a total bogey for both me and Ed. Yet again we failed but did pick up some crossbill passing over then landing in a tree nearby:

Depressed we went to Tichwell hoping to do some wader photography. On the way to the beach we enjoyed terrible views of shore lark and grey phal but both good birds.

Once we had made it to the beach we were trying to photograph waders around the stoney area and I noticed a wader sulking down on the rocks and instantly saw it was a purple sandpiper. Great stuff!! It was quite flighty so we left it and took some more turnstone photos.

Also present were turnstone, curlew, knot and oycs:

When on the way back we noticed the purple sand feeding on the shore line so crawled through the wet sand completely covering everything (including my camera) in sand…but it was worth it as the bird was much more friendly an even ran past Ed’s head within a few feet at one point!! They do seem to be very confiding birds...

with a turnstone lurking in the background:

Testing the water me it was rather chilly..

it was a little shy to start with, hiding behind a rock:

Feeding in a puddle:

I like the foreground blur in this, shows how low I was with the camera actually in the wet sand :-s..

this one is full frame with a 300mm lense, lovely little bird:

That evening we enjoyed the mega starling roost - a great sight:

The next day, after our body temperatures had returned to normal after the coldest night in a caravan EVER, we headed to Cley to do a sea watch. On the way we saw a barn owl, always lovely to see. There weren’t very many people there so we feared for the worst but within about 20mins I picked up a single little awk. Great stuff again. But the most exciting thing was a merlin coming in off, it’s always exciting seeing birds come in off the sea but when it’s a special bird like that it’s really great!!

There were also loads of skylarks, mipits and starling passing on the sea really low to the water – lovely to watch.

Other birds from the seawatch included red throated and great norther diver, guillimot, common scoter but no shearwaters or skuas.

After this we had another day in search of rarities but weren’t really expecting more after picking up a few good lifers. Still we enjoyed nice views of a suspected blue headed wagtail and a little stint:

little stint comparison with dunlin:

On the way we stopped off in a few places hoping for some raptors but to no avail. We did pick up corn bunting and yellowhammer for the list though and found a 'clan' of pied wags enjoying the insects around the barns:

Was a great weekend and we managed to rack up 114 species!!

Some arty shots to finish off with…


Monday, 5 October 2009

Normal for Norfolk

Had a great weekend trip to Norfolk with Ed, and the team was reunited with Robbie and Sam coming as well - great stuff!

We left my house at 4:30am on the Saturday and picked Ed up on the way – getting to Cley for 6:40am.

It was extremely windy and the sea was rather rough so we were hopeful. The only worry was the wind direction as it was offshore. We still enjoyed good views of a bonxie and arctic skua. It was amazing to see so many red throated diver too – we had easily 25+ sightings over the 2 days. It was exciting to see quite a few birds coming in off too. With a few snipe, pink footed geese, wigeon and a peregrine which had a little go at a gull as it arrived.

Some pics from the sea watch:

Red throated diver:

Peregrine having a pop at a black headed gull (which is diving under):

Arctic skua:

We then decided to search Holkham pines for firecrest and yellow browed warb. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful on the YBW front but had fantastic views of firecrest. It was gloomy in the wood but with ISO 800 I managed to get a few shots of the FC I’m happy with (but a shame about that bloody green leaf in the way!!!):

After fish and chips from Wells we headed to Lady Ann’s drive to search more woodland. Nothing more of note here but a good 15 minute nap was had in the hide there until someone else arrived and we had to get up!!

Next stop was Tichwell RSPB where we bolted straight to Fen hide after hearing that a jack snipe was showing well. These guys will have probably only just come in off the sea in the past few days and were feeding frantically just in front of the hide. Despite looking down on them I got a few shots I’m happy with – such pretty birds:

We then made our way to the beach where Ed, Sam and I got completely soaked by the rising tide whilst trying to photograph sanderling. But it was all worth it:

On the walk back we noticed a small brown finch flying along the beach and our first thought was twite. After some waiting and stalking we finally got good enough views to confirm it was indeed a twite!! Terrible record shot:

We headed back to the hostel to dry off and get some food before bed.

The next day a relatively fruitless sea watch was had but a Juv arctic tern put in a brief appearance and a few manxies could be seen very far out.

After a full English breakfast we headed to Tichwell again to photograph the waders:

My favourite shot of the weekend was this knot(click it to view large):

We also had some great views of snow bunting:

These next shots may not be to some peoples taste but I am relatively happy with them as they are different:

On the drive home we checked birdguides and found that there was a buff breasted sandpiper and a glossy ibis on Paxton pits - GREAT we were going down the A1 anyway!! So we popped in and connected with both birds. The ibis was milling about right in front of us but the clouds meant no great colour in the bird was going to be captured:

It was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait till we get some north easterlies – I’ll be shooting over there again no doubt!!

A few shots to finish: