Sunday, 26 September 2010

Brandon Marsh.

Having been trapped indoors by the weather for a couple of days I was desperate to go out birding so on Saturday morning I decided to pay a visit to Brandon Marsh mainly because I hadn't been there for ages.

It was bright but very cold as I started walking down the main path but my good mood soon vanished as birders I met on the path were coming out with "Nothing about mate it's dead" "Been here since 6.00AM and I've seen buggerall".Oh dear!!!!!

There was nothing at all showing from the first 3 hides but at least when I got to the Carlton hide there were some friends there and the chat was good.In a pretty long stay all that showed was a Jay fly by and a Water Rail scurrying across the front of the hide.It was pretty grim so before deep vein thrombosis set in I moved on.

From the Steetly hide a KF showed up with a large fish which it proceeded to batter to death on the perching pole.So something to cheer me up then? Well you'd think so but no as I somehow managed to mess up every shot I took.I don't know whether it was the bright sunshine behind the KF but every shot was rubbish.I gave up then and went round to a mates house.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Coming down to earth.

Having spent three days birding last week in Norfolk I had to come down to earth and do some local birding.

When going out birding in Norfolk,especially this time of year,you have a damn good chance of seeing something very good but here in our area you have very little chance of seeing anything decent.It's a shame really because we have some very good reserves locally with Marsh Lane,Brandon Marsh,Draycote Water and Upton Warren being my favourites but it's a rare thing when something good turns up.

On Tuesday morning I decided to go to Draycote Water as a BN Grebe had been seen the day before.Did I see it then? No which was a shame as it was an excellent day ideal for getting some decent shots.In fact it was very quiet birdwise the only highlight was having a picnic lunch with Francoise by the outlet.

Tried to get some shots of the Yellow Wagtails and Meadow Pipits on the Farborough Bank before I left but even these were being very uncooperative and difficult to get close to.

The weather man promised me another great day on Thursday so in the morning I paid a visit to the flashes at Upton Warren.It turned out to be a bad move as it happened.

There was a lot of work going on along the main path and the noise disturbed the birds so I had only distant views of 3 Dunlin,a Common and 2 Green Sandpipers and no pics.The good weather promised by the weather man soon went and it became dull and cool.The morning was saved by meeting Jeff and Brian in the hide always good company.They had both lashed out and bought cameras to try out so it was a pity no birds came close!!!

On the way home I had a quick look round Marsh Lane.I did get excited in the Oak hide when 3 Terns dropped in.I knew all the Common Terns had gone so where these something special? No I'm afraid a birder came in who knew what he was talking about and said they were juvenile Common Terns.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A visit to Titchwell.

Having paid the hotel bill at Kelling on Saturday morning I planned to call in at Titchwell to check the progress of the alteration works before I headed home.

On route I had another walk along the East Bank at Cley in case anything new had turned up.All the birders I spoke to said the only decent birds around were the Lapland Buntings which were still on the shingle banks.All I saw were some Bearded Tits in the reeds.

It was breezy but bright when I got to Titchwell mid morning.As I walked down the path to the Island hide I was amazed at the work done so far with the pathway raised a lot now giving good views of both the west marsh and the reed beds.The Island hide is now open and the path to the beach should be open in a few days.The Parrinder hide should be finished by November.Here is a shot showing progress so far.It looks like it's going to be quite large.

There is loads of muddy areas round the Island hide which bodes well for waders but the current work is keeping them away with nothing to see except a few ducks.I was just about to leave when these chaps flew in.

The flock of waders was about 30 strong with 4 Little Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers with the Dunlin.Managed a few shots in tricky light.

On the walk back to the centre quite a few people were viewing this distant deer which apparently was a Chinese Water Deer.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A visit to the reserve at Holme.

Friday morning I headed west along the A149 to the reserve at Holme to try for the Arctic Warbler that had been around for a few days.

Two things make Holme not one of my favourite spots the first being I very rarely see anything there and the second one being the appalling state of the access road.Anyone who has been there will agree that the access must be the bumpiest road in England and with my car having "sports suspension" (in other words hard suspension) I suffer more than most.I subscribe to the rumour that the army bring tanks there for testing new models to destruction.

Things started well with a lot of Meadow Pipits near the car park.

I spent 3 hours in the pines looking for the Arctic Warbler with another 20 birders and none of us had a glimpse.To make matters worse there was absolutely nothing else in the pines.That morning the pines were a dead area.

Feeling very depressed I tried to cheer myself up by going on the beach.The sea was very rough and chilly wind was blowing from the North.There were a few Sanderlings scurrying along the foreshore which are always good to see.

I then tried to get some arty atmospheric shots of a Bar-tailed Godwit with the rough sea in the background.You can see how desperate I was!!!!!

Escaping from Holme I had a bite of lunch and then moved a bit down the coast to Thornham Harbour.By this time it had gone dull and very windy but I was soon cheered up when I spotted 9 Spoonbills way off on the estuary.I'm certain in the second shot one is a juvenile and could be one of the "Holkham babes"

Other decent birds seen whilst there were a juvenile Willow Warbler,a Little Egret having trouble with the wind and a Bar-tailed Godwit in one of the channels.

A walk down the East Bank at Cley.

Last Tuesday feeling bored with the local birding I thought I'd chance the weather and have a couple of days in Norfolk so early Thursday morning I set off hoping the weather wouldn't be too bad.

Headed straight to the small car park at the end of the East Bank at Cley arriving not long after 9.00AM.It was bright but chilly in the brisk northerly breeze so it was a nice surprise to see some Bearded Tits in the reeds despite the windy conditions.

Half way along the bank I bumped into an old friend Kevin Grocock and after a bit of a chat we decided to head to the shingle banks and try for some shots of the Lapland Buntings that had been seen there recently.We joined some birders at the top of the shingle and soon had distant views of a flock of about nine but they were very nervy and kept flying off.We did have a bit of luck as a couple of them landed near to us and we were able to rattle off some shots.

For while we joined some sea watchers and they put us onto some decent birds including a Great Skua and even better for me as it was a life tick a Pomarine Skua.No pics though!!!

Other decent birds seen in the morning included Black Tailed Godwits,some Pink footed Geese,a Peregrine,3 Marsh Harriers and 3 Spotted Redshanks.

As we walked back along the East Bank we spotted a dozen people and the end of the bank with cameras etc. and we wondered what they had got.Some rarity!!!! No this is what they were waiting for

It was a British cycle race.To keep the road clear off traffic for the cyclists a group of 40 police motorcyclists operated a rolling road block.

After a coffee at the centre the rains came so I went to the hotel to unpack.There was a brief respite mid afternoon so I went to the nearby Salthouse beech to see if anything was about.It was hard to park not because it was busy quite the opposite in fact but because there were huge puddles in the car park making it hard to find a dry spot.I braved the dull drizzly weather and had a walk round and I was pleased to find a couple of Wheatears.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A bit of local birding.

Early Sunday morning I had another look in Knowle churchyard to see if I could find the Spotted Flycatchers again.

I don't know if it was the peeling bells that scared all the birds off but I saw very little and definitely the not the Flycatchers.The only thing I did get was very wet not from any rain as it was a nice morning but from the long grass in the churchyard which soaked my boots,socks and the bottoms of my trousers without me realising at the time.What a burk!!!!

In the afternoon having got depressed with England's bowling against Pakistan in the one dayer I decided to have a quick look at Marsh Lane.

From the car park hide there were 6 Common Snipe on the grass in front of the hide.

A juvenile Water Rail showed from the causeway screens but too close for me to get a shot.As I crossed the stream I spotted 2 Hobbies flying around but they did not stay for long so I only managed a few shots.

As I walked to the Railway hide I spotted several Common Buzzards soaring high in the sky calling out to each other.Here a couple of shots of the one who did come a little lower.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Earlswood Lakes.

Because the weather was bad in the morning I had decided to stay in but when the lunchtime match (Everton V Man. Utd.) was looking to me like a draw I decided to chance the weather and go to Earlwood Lakes to see if the Black Terns were still present.

The bad news first the match turned out to be an exciting 3 - 3 draw.The good news was that the Black Terns were still there and even better news was that as I walked towards the causeway I met up with Pete Walkden.He kindly guided me to the best spot to try for some shots which was along the path to the yacht club.

There were 3 juveniles wizzing around everywhere and my god they were a devil to lock onto.I managed to take an enormous amount of crappographs with very few decent shots and most of those were of empty skies,trees,yachts and local housing.These are a few of the better ones.

We did have a problem on the walk back when a small bridge you have to cross was blocked by a yobbo who would not get out of the way.Pics taken for forwarding to the authorities.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Raptorfest at Marsh Lane.

After my morning at Knowle Churchyard I decided to have a quick look in at Marsh Lane.It was a good move as it turned out with many raptors on view enjoying the sunny afternoon.

Saw a Kestrel in a nearby tree by the main gate but it flew off as soon as I closed the gate.As I got out the car a Sparrowhawk flew above my head and over the crop field area there were 7 Common Buzzards soaring and calling out.

As I walked down towards the causeway I met up with John who said a Hobby was about some where and blow me down if it didn't appear flying over the car park pool straightaway.Well I shot off and positioned myself in what I hoped was a good spot to try for some shots.

It zoomed around the causeway area on and off for about 10 minutes.Trying to get shots of a fast flying Hobby is a thrill that's better than a passionate kiss with Cheryl Cole and I should know!!!!!

Trouble was I didn't have it all my own way as my friend was taking the p*** a bit as it kept flying over me out of the sun like a world war 2 fighter pilot so lots of shots were crappographs.

Here are some of shots of it flying.

Here are some shots of it with food/eating.