Sunday, 31 October 2010

Out in the sunshine.

As soon as I saw that Saturday was going to be sunny I decided I must get out with the camera and see what was about locally.

Went across to Draycote Water getting there fairly early in the morning.Walked down the Farborough Bank upto the spit in calm warm weather but it was very quiet birdwise with almost nothing on the water and only a few Meadow Pipits on the banks.

I then walked past the centre as far as the jetty and although there were more birds on the water here there was nothing of note except for a couple of Goldeneyes who were too far out for a decent shot.

As I looked towards Rainbow Corner I saw a wader fly in.Wow a wader!!! I hadn't seen one for a while now so I raced over to see if I could find it.I say raced over I can't race any more but I eventually got there and soon found my wader on the shoreline.It was a Common Sandpiper not a spectacular find but very welcome.

After a bit of lunch I went to the kiosk by the centre for a coffee.This turned out to be a mistake as the coffee I had not only cost £1.60 but looked like and tasted like muddy canal water.The taste remained in my mouth all the way to Brandon Marsh which was my next port of call.

The weather by this time was very good and quite warm.It really was a pleasure to walk round but,yes there is a but, there was very little around to point the camera at.Brandon Marsh is not on form lately I don't think anything decent has been reported there for ages.These are the only shots I could manage in a three hour stay.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Upton Warren visit.

After doing the shopping in Knowle on Monday morning and seeing it was another cracking day I decided to pay a visit to Upton Warren with fingers crossed that I would see something decent which was long overdue.

Went to the Moors first and walked to the small hide by the car park.In the frosty bright morning the view from the hide was superb.Unfortunately there were no decent birds to see except for a brief showing of a Cetti's skipping on the ice in one of the channels.No pics as the little swine had picked the one channel that was in the shade.

Visited the other hides but again there was nothing decent to be seen.Never used the camera once.

I then took the short drive to the Flashes and went straight to the big hide at the end of the path.It was empty which did not bide well and this proved to be the case with the only birds of interest being a couple of Common Snipe.I entertained myself by taking shots of any birds that landed in the nearby bushes.

Having failed again to see anything decent I headed home via Hanbury where I grabbed a cup of tea and cake at the craft centre.You can see how desperate I was to take some shots I was shooting landscapes.

Whilst wandering round the craft centre grounds in the warm afternoon sun I spotted this Bengal Eagle Owl resting on a fence.Unfortunately it had been let out by the falconry for some exercise and was not a wild bird.That would have broken my run of not seeing anything good.

A frosty morning at Marsh Lane.

Sunday morning I got up early to watch the S.Korean F1 race but it was delayed by the rain so I was able to nip across to Marsh Lane earlier than usual.It was a very cold frosty morning but luckily it was sunny.

It was a good job Brian Harris got there just before me because he was able to unfreeze the main gate padlock with his cigarette lighter.I dread to think what I would have had to use to if I had arrived first.I could have been arrested!!!!

Nothing new on the CP pool so I had to take some shots of some Teal that were pretty close in.

When we couldn't find the female Pintail from the Oak hide we went to the Railway hide to try our luck there.A bit of a surprise when we opened the flaps to find a couple of foxes.

Brian eventually found the Pintail but it was a long way off and asleep.When it woke up the miserable so and so flew off even further away so I was only able to take a crappograph.I'm getting a lot of those lately.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Still struggling locally.

As soon as some Thursday morning gardening was beginning to attack my back muscles (it doesn't take much these days) I decided to pack it in and go across to Marsh Lane with the camera.

As usual there were loads of Gulls,Ducks,Lapwings and Geese about but I could not find the female Pintail or anything else special.A flock of Redwings did fly over but that was all.

I spent an hour near the crop field trying to get a shot of a hunting Kestrel but the miserable so and so would not come near me for a decent shot.Didn't take many shots and here are the some of the few I took.In the shot of the Greylags landing there is a Goose I'm not sure of maybe a hybrid Barnacle??

On Friday I went to Brandon Marsh and it was a very nice morning when I arrived.The birding didn't match the weather and there was almost nothing about to point the camera at.I've done very poorly lately at Brandon Marsh.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Some local birding.

This is the first post I have been able to do since my visit to Norfolk not because I haven't been out with the camera but because I've seen nothing at all when I have been out.I've been to Marsh Lane three times and Brandon Marsh once in the last few days and have had almost nothing to point the camera at.Brandon Marsh last Saturday in particular was very poor.

In fairness to Marsh Lane the weather was very poor each time I went and these are the only shots I managed.

When I saw this morning the weather was going be to be sunny I shot over to Napton Reservoir for the Bearded Tit reported there the day before.I'd never been before but found the place pretty easily and joined up with a few other birders watching the reedbed. I was lucky and got this shot almost straight away.

If you believe that you'll believe anything.I took that shot a couple of years ago at Cley in Norfolk.At Napton after 90 minutes waiting I never heard the Bearded Tit let alone see it.The reed bed it was supposed to be in was huge and covered several hectares (probably viewable from space) so finding it was going to need a lot of luck.

I then left to have a look at Napton on the Hill another spot I'd not been to.Luckily Keith, who also gave up with the Beardie, kindly showed me round.It was a bit windy by now as we walked from the church to the windmill but we did see a few Fieldfares,a flock of Redwings over,3 Ravens putting on an aerial display and a Common Buzzard.

Had a quick look at Draycote Water but there was very little to see and it was very windy by this time.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Saturday morning in Norfolk.

On Saturday morning,having paid the hotel bill, I was undecided where to go.I did not want to go too far east as I was heading home after lunch so it was Holme,Thornham Harbour or Titchwell.I chose the latter which was yet another mistake I'd made on this trip.

As I walked along the main path at Titchwell it was even gloomier than yesterday and if anything the wind was stronger.Well done weatherman you got one out of three right!!!!! About par then.

The West Marsh was flooded so there must be a high tide.Above is a gloomy pic showing some of the hundreds of Brent Geese there.

I battled my way to the beach and did not see a single birder on the walk.The tide was in and mountainous seas were crashing onto the beach and the wind was howling from the east.There were two birders on the platform but only one answered my cheery "Good morning" the other who was sitting on the bench remained very still in fact so still I thought he may have died from exposure.Just as I was about to nudge him to check he turned,looked at me with bloodshot eyes and said "F***ing weather".Well at least he wasn't dead.

It was all not a total loss as the beach held loads of waders incl. Sanderlings, Turnstones, Dunlin, Oystercatchers etc. Here are a few gloomy shots.

On the walk back to get a much needed coffee I spotted some Bar-tailed Godwits and a lone Greenshank on a sheltered spot on the brackish marsh.

Here is a shot of the Parrinder hide being consrtucted.It looks like it's going to be pretty big.

I then made a big mistake.I was fed up with the poor conditions and after a sausage bap I headed home instead of calling in at Thornham and Holme.The bird text alert informed me as Iwas driving past Wisbech there was some great stuff to be found there (Brown Flycatcher,Shore Larks,Wrynecks etc.) Bugger Bugger!!!!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Unprecedented : a poor days birding in Norfolk.

On Friday morning I headed to Cley to walk the East bank but when I got there the weather man had let me down badly.It was very gloomy and a strong easterly wind was blowing.Oh dear not the weather for a fairweatherbirder and certainly not the weather for taking pics.

Joined the only other birder on the shingle bank and helped him search for a Snow Bunting that had been reported earlier.After a fruitless hours searching and as I was getting shingle blindness (looking at shingle for too long) I gave up and headed a bit down the coast to Salthouse beach.

Had a bit better luck there when I found 4 Turnstones on one of the flooded areas and a Whinchat on some undergrowth (first one I'd seen for a few years).I then searched on Granborough Hill where sometimes decent birds can be seen but I had no luck.I then joined some other birders searching for a Shore Lark that had just come in on the bird text alert but we could not find it after an hours search.

I then went for lunch in the Dun Cow pub at Salthouse but my poor morning continued here when a very modest ham sandwich and a half of bitter cost me £7.00.Hells bells £7.00!!!! When I was young £7.00 could buy you a 2-bed semi out in the sticks.

Just as I left the pub the bird text alert came through "YB Warbler and a Firecrest by the pond at Holkam Pines". As it was on my way back to the hotel I decided to give it a go.When I got out of the car at the end of Lady Anne's Drive I was surrounded by loads of dogs and I thought Crufts were holding a dog show here but no it was just dog walkers.Dozens of them.

I headed down the path to the pond which I knew was near the Washington hide.I searched for a couple of hours with quite a few other birders but all we saw was a Blue Tit ,a Robin and a few Chaffinches.By this time I knew it was not my day so I gave up for the day.

Titchwell and Thornham Harbour.

When the weather man Wednesday morning said from tomorrow there would be a fine and calm few days especially in the east of the country and when another weather man said " don't put your t-shirts and shorts away because you are going to need them for a while yet" I thought I'd nip off to Norfolk for a few days.

Left very early Thursday morning and arrived before 8.00AM in Hunstanton where I'd parked near the old Lighthouse to try for the Wryneck Steve Seal and Pete Walkden had got great shots of last week.I was having no luck and when a local came out and told me it hadn't been seen since Tuesday I knew I'd failed.Bugger!!!!

I then nipped down the coast a bit and went to Titchwell.As I walked down the main path and got to the first bench I could hear a lot of Bearded Tits calling out and soon I saw lots of them flitting around on the reeds.I reckon there must have been a Bearded Tit society wedding on or something because they were having a hell of a time constantly calling out and flying around.I reckon there were about 40 in total.Wonderful site.

I later found out they were "erupting" which I gathered they do before dispersing to new areas.

I didn't see much else about so after dumping my stuff at the hotel I went to Thornham Harbour just down the road.The creeks were full of waders a bit far off for decent shots but I saw a couple of Common Sandpipers, a lone Dunlin, numerous Redshanks, lots of Curlews, a Grey Plover , a Whimbrel, 3 Little Egrets, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank.

I then went on one of my favourite walks from the harbour over to the reserve at Holme.I didn't see much to point the camera at except for a Wheatear on the path but the weather was superb (well done weather man you got one right) and the walk was very enjoyable.I sat on a bench along the path for an hour and people kept joining me there and telling me their life stories for some reason.I just kept nodding sagely.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A morning visit to Marsh Lane.

After Friday's atrocious weather that trapped me indoors all day I was keen to go out with the camera on Saturday morning when I saw it was a fine day.

I decided to play safe and go to my local patch at Marsh Lane.On route I noticed many fields were flooded and the river had burst it's banks so let's hope we get no more rain for a while.

There were loads of birds on the ponds including the usual Ducks, Geese, Gulls, Lapwings, Cormorants etc. but in huge numbers.

The only decent birds around that I saw were a few Common Snipe and ,best of all, was a pair of Ruff.These chaps were a bit distant favouring the spit over by the River hide and when they started to fly over to near the Oak hide they had a change of mind and flew off into the distance.

Not a good morning's birding but nice to get out for a while.