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Sunday, 28 September 2014

FINALLY!...Masked Shrike (plus OBP & Glossy Ibis)

Masked Shrike, Spurn
At last! Some time to spare for a trip to see a new bird.
Spurn was the destination (of course) so this meant I was up and away by 4:45am...weighed down by gallons of Red Bull.
It was a great days birding. Two very nice but suicidal Barn Owls played chicken(?) on the A17 and a large Badger was watched meandering along the verge of the A15 between Spalding and Lincoln. These were the only things I noticed until I reached the Well field and parked up. 
The Masked Shrike has been increasingly mobile and was in hedgerows North of the road but showed well for a few minutes before disappearing. It was over an hour before it was relocated again, along Beacon Lane.
While at the original site a call over someone's CB said there was a Common Rosefinch also along Beacon Lane but this was equally as elusive. It was while looking for the Rosefinch that the Masked Shrike was relocated and it showed well before moving back into the hedgerows. As I was about to follow it I noticed a flock of Greenfinches on nearby Hawthorns. The Rosefinch was associating with the Greenfinches and I had brief views of it perched before it too headed into neighbouring fields.
Masked Shrike, Spurn

Migrants were few and far between with only one Northern Wheatear, a Chiffchaff and small flocks of Meadow Pipit and Sky Lark noted. I decided to head back home via Frampton RSPB reserve near Boston.
At Frampton there were very few waders compared with recent days. Common Snipe, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Avocet and Ruff being noted. Three was the highest number seen of any of these species.
The Wet Grasslands part of the reserve held the most birds with a flock of Wigeon, 2 Pintail, a female Garganey, Yellow Wagtail , 21 Little Egrets and the now obligatory, showy, Glossy Ibis. A nice Sparrowhawk caused a bit of consternation amongst the Linnets before flying off with one of their number.
Glossy Ibis, Frampton Marsh RSPB
Sparrowhawk, Frampton Marsh RSPB
No blog last week but I did get to see the Olive-backed Pipit at Wells Wood and a bonus Tawny Owl as well.
Olive-backed Pipit, Wells Wood
Tawny Owl, Wells Wood
Stone Curlews at their Autumn gathering site.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sooooo Many Birds!

Male Common Redstart
Today was always about Burnham Overy Dunes on the North Norfolk coast. Thick fog overnight and Easterly winds held so much promise.
I arrived at 06:15 and it was still foggy though this lifted quite quickly. I headed straight for the end of the sea wall already noting good numbers of small birds in the bushes. As I reached the Brambles at the North end of the wall it was clear that the fog had held back most of yesterdays birds. Two Red-breasted Flycatchers gave themselves up  but the Yellow-browed Warbler took a bit longer. Lots of common migrants here such as Lesser Whitethroat, Common Redstart and Garden Warbler.
First winter Red-breasted Flycatchers
Yellow-browed Warbler
A walk toward Holkham Pines proved fruitful with a THIRD Red-breasted Flycatcher showing well. The long staying Barred Warbler was a bit more elusive but eventually showed itself. More and more common migrants were seen with huge numbers of Northern Wheatear and Common Redstart. I sat on a dune overlooking the Sallows and heard a high pitched whistle which drew me to another Yellow-browed Warbler. Overhead it was plain that birds of all shapes and sizes were on the move, groups of Eurasian Jays, ThrushesCommon Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and two Eurasian Hobbys were all seen. A Great Bittern was seen flying East over Holkham Freshmarsh.
Barred Warbler
Eurasian Jay...on the move.
Heading back toward the sea wall I could see birds that seemed to be flying in from the sea and diving into the nearest bush. A kindly gentleman pointed me in the direction of my second Barred Warbler of the day.
Back at the sea wall crowds were building to see the Red-breasted Flycatchers and Yellow-browed Warbler so I headed off toward Gun Hill to look for the Lapland bunting. I hadn't gone 50 yards when the flew thing flew East over my head calling loudly. Still...onwards. More migrants were noted including new birds such as Blackcap and Goldcrest. The number of Tree Pipits was also increasing. A Spotted Flycatcher was new here.
Time to head back. Another quick look around the sea wall added Pied Flycatcher and the pools gave up Black-necked Grebe and Green Sandpiper.
Photographs of some of the commoner migrants are posted below.
Some impressive numbers noted today are 30+ Common Redstart, 17 Whinchat, 3 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 49 Eurasian Jay and 11 Tree Pipits amongst others.
Garden Warbler
juvenile Willow Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Pied Flycatcher
Common Redstarts

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Burnham Overy Dunes & a Few Uncommon Migrants...

Wryneck, East Bank, Cley
First though, have a look at this photograph of a juvenile Sandwich Tern taken at Titchwell, Norfolk, yesterday. It must have thought it had won the lottery when it went after Sand-eels and came up with a Garfish longer than itself!
Local Lottery Winner! Sandwich Tern goes for Sand-eel & gets a Garfish!
Well! woke at 4:15am today for some stupid reason, now long forgotten. I decided to go out and walk along to Burnham Overy Dunes, perhaps to see yesterdays Barred Warbler. The Sun had not yet risen as I made my way along the sea wall from the A149. Birds were few and far between except for passing Greenshanks and quite a few Pink-footed Geese. As I got nearer to the dunes Northern Wheatears started to appear. At the end of the wall I headed West for the short walk to the Barred Warbler and in that 60 yards I saw 2 1st winter / female Common Redstarts and flushed a Jack Snipe. The warbler was not there. I carried on towards Holkham Pines to sit on a low dune overlooking a patch of Sallows and Brambles. Unfortunately I was not looking where I was going. A bird flicked up off the ground onto a Bramble by the boundary fence and I found myself eye to eye with a Wryneck. Hard to say who was the more stunned but the Wryneck bolted for a particularly thick Bramble patch and vanished. I stayed for a few minutes noting another Common Redstart, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher and then headed off for the Barred Warbler which had just come up on the pager. It was between yesterdays site and myself. I had obviously walked straight past it.
Barred Warbler, juvenile, Burnham Overy Dunes
I slowly made my way back to the car even though new birds were arriving all of the time. Whinchats now made an appearance and a particularly nice male Common Redstart was along the footpath near the A149.
I sat in my car trying to decide where the nearest Bucket Sized coffee could be found when the phone rang. Penny! Bless her heart, "Red-breasted Flycatcher at Garden Drove". HOW SLOW CAN TRAFFIC BE WHEN YOU WANT TO BE SOMEWHERE 10 MINUTES AGO!!! Eventually made it to the site and parked the car when the phone goes again. Mum. Now don't get me wrong, my Mum is lovely but she can talk for England! Priorities, right? That reminds me, must ring and apologise for cutting her short. Sorry Mum!
Made it to where the other birders were and eventually had this little Eastern gem quite close. Two Spotted Flycatchers were at the same site.
Red-breasted Flycatcher, Garden Drove, Warham Greens.
Headed home to lay a carpet for my eldest daughter but watch this space...Easterly winds and rain. Time to take a few days off. Have a look at the pics below to keep you going until next time.
Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Felixstowe
Clouded Yellow, Burnham Overy
Wryneck, East Bank, Cley
Red-backed Shrike, juvenile, Blakeney Freshmarsh.