Thursday, 29 September 2011

Some local birding.

Having just returned from a few days birding in Norfolk I thought I'd better do some local birding especially as the weather was good so on Tuesday morning I shot over to Brandon Marsh.

Went to the Steetly hide first where a KF paid a very brief visit and a Grey Wagtail showed for a while but no decent pics.Visits to the River hide,the Teal pool and East Marsh hides were a waste of time as they were all very quiet.

I then went down to the Carlton hide (the hide that died) hoping that the Hobby which showed so well for several of my friends on Saturday would turn up.Well it turned up all right but the miserable so and so stayed over the Newlands for a while then disappeared for good.Bugger Bugger !!!!

Not a good visit then but to stop it being a total disaster two things saved the day.Firstly the weather was excellent and it was a pleasure to walk round.Secondly on the main path between the Teal pool and Carlton hides (and not at Elstree film studios nor on the set of the latest James Bond movie ) I met up with the most attractive young lady I've ever seen.My brief chat to her consisted of lots of stuttering and drooling.What a stunner!!! The problem I've got now is that I must text Scarlett Johanssen and tell her that I no longer love her and she is not going to be pleased.

Woke up on Wednesday morning to find I was still drooling over the Brandon beauty and the weather was great again.I decided I would have a go at the BN Grebe at Napton again to see if I could improve on my previous shots.

Got there just before 10.00AM and found the weather was excellent and only a couple of fishermen there.Because of the sun I walked to the southern end of the reservoir where I soon found the BN Grebe but it was well over 50m away.After an hour's wait it still stayed too far off for pics but soon after a friend joined me it slowly came closer enabling me to get some shots.

At midday I went the short drive to Draycote Water.Walking down Farborough bank I knew that I would be lucky to see anything because when the weather is as fine here there is nothing about usually and this proved to be correct because by the time I got to the Spit I'd not seen any waders at all.A bit different from a week or two ago.

I then decided to have lunch and I went down onto the grass bank and found a nice spot.I'd just finished my first roll when I noticed a bird on the top of the hedging so I got the bins out and was chuffed to bits to see it was a Stonechat a bird I hadn't seen for a couple of years.Finished my lunch and set about getting some shots if I could get close enough.

After shuffling down the bank several times when the bird had flown off I found a decent spot and waited patiently (about an hour) for it to return and come close.Luckily for me it did.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Norfolk trip.

On Tuesday morning I decided to go to Norfolk and luckily I was able to book up a few days at one of my favourite hotels.Although the forecast was for bright weather the strong westerly wind that has been blowing in Norfolk for a while now was forecast to continue and even I know this reduces the chances of seeing some decent migrants.However on the plus side I knew that quite a few of my friends would be in Norfolk that week.


Set out early in the morning and arrived at Thornham harbour car park not long after 9.00AM.It was deserted except for two other cars that had just arrived and you can image my surprise when Steve Seal and Anne got out of one car and Di Stone got out the other.What are the odds of that happening.

After a quick chat a quick look round the harbour creeks revealed nothing except some very distant waders I headed off to Titchwell.Visits to the Fen hide,the Island hide and than the new Parrinder hide were a great disappointment with no birds being any where near the hides.Birders with powerful scopes could see some Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers but they were a long way off.OH Dear!!!! To make matters worse the wind was very strong.

I cheered up a bit when I spotted a Whinchat from the main pathway.

I then headed for the beach and was pleased to find this handsome Wheatear on the derelict building rubble.

Went further down the beach to try for some shots of some Sandwich Terns that were being very noisy calling out.

Out on the sea there was a distant Arctic Skua flying low over the water.Not a great shot but the first one I've ever taken.

I was very pleased to spot a Red-throated Diver in Summer plumage not that far out but when I tried to get a shot it dived and I never saw it again.Also far out to sea were several juvenile Gannets.I tried to get some shots but they were too far out for me to get decent ones.Here are my best.

I then had a bite of lunch and headed towards my hotel but first had a walk round Morsten harbour.This in the past has been a good place for me but it was very poor today with all the creeks empty of birds.A tough day so I was pleased to head to the hotel mid afternoon.


As I was staying in Kelling I decided that I would spend Thursday in the nearby Cley area.I parked up at the end of the East bank and headed to the Bishops hide and when I entered I was surprised to find it empty.The reason was soon apparent there were cows all over the scrape and there were hardly any birds to see.Bugger Bugger !!!!

I then headed along the East bank.I quickly met up with Kevin Grocock and he said words that would be repeated a lot on this trip "It's dead there's nothing about".After a chat I headed along the bank to the beach not confident of seeing anything let alone taking any pics.there were quite a few Bearded Tits darting about but the very strong wind was keeping them low down.Did manage one poorish shot but pleased to use the camera.

After finding nothing at all on the shingle beach I then had a bit of luck when I spotted an Arctic Skua chasing a Tern and was chuffed to bits at getting some decent shots much better than yesterday's effort.

I then went to Wallesly Hill NR just across the road from the end of the East Bank.I climbed up the steps and joined another birder there on the platform but in the next hour all we saw were 2 Chaffinches and a Dunnock.Hells teeth this is not good.

Went to the centre for some lunch reminding myself that this is a very expensive place to eat having been caught out badly here in the spring.There were only a couple of people in the queue to be served in front of me but it took the two waitresses an age to serve them.I later found out that they were both zombies out on day release into the community.

I then spent most of the afternoon wandering around Salthouse beach area including climbing Gramborough Hill but besides some Meadow Pipits and a few Linnets the place was dead.OH dear!!!


Kevin Grocock and I wishing to change our luck planned to meet up at 9.00AM in the car park at Wells Woods.Paid the exorbitant car park fee for a couple of hours and headed off with Kevin to check out the woods.It was a lovely sunny morning and the wind had died down a lot but that's where the good news ended because after a 90 minute walk round we saw nothing at all.The place was dead.Oh Dear!!!!

We decided to give up but when we got back to the car park things got even worse for me when I had a £50 parking penalty stuck on my windscreen.Bugger Bugger !!!! The car park ticket had fallen off the shelf and onto the floor.I went to sort out the parking attendant and give him a piece of my mind (well actually I apologised and pleaded with him to let me off and he did).

Kevin then went to Holkham and I headed to Cley coastguards.After a bit of lunch I had a walk to the Eye field were I found several Wheatears but nothing else.Birders told me not to walk to the North hide as it was dead (that word again).I then made a shrewd move as I walked across to the beach,sat down on a lump of concrete and did some sea watching.

Not long after I had sat down I noticed some waders on the shoreline about 30 metres away so using my superb fieldcraft skills I shuffled slowly towards them and got pretty close to find two Golden Plovers and a Turnstone.What cracking looking birds Golden Plovers are when you get close.

A few metres to the right along the shoreline these chaps suddenly flew in.

Waiting patiently these four Bar-tailed Godwits slowly came close enough for me to get some shots.

I then walked westwards from the car park to try for the two Whinchats seen there in the morning.I had to be careful not to wander too far from the car park as the route was all shingle and on shingle I have a maximum range of about 600 metres.If I go any further I cannot get back without aid as my legs stop working.

I'd gone a fair way when I found both of them sitting on a wire.

I then got carried away trying to get some shots but the damn so and so's kept moving further away everytime I got close.I suddenly noticed I was a long way from the car park and was in trouble getting back.They must have known about my problem and were trying to finish me off.the cunning devils!!! I set off back and was very relieved to make it back to the car park some time later.This is the only shot I got of them after all that trouble.

On the walk back I did have the pleasure of seeing a Sparrowhawk whizzing over the shingle.


Before I set off home I spent the morning at Titchwell.I had hoped that I would have more luck with the camera from the hides but sadly this was not the case and yet again there was nothing to be seen anywhere near the hides.

Had better luck on the main path when I found some Bearded Tits.

A little bit further along the main path I greatly impressed a couple of birders when I pointed out the spot I'd seen the Whinchat on Wednesday when it flew in from nowhere to land in the same spot.

On the beach the tide was a long way out and the mussel beds were exposed which attracted loads of Waders.It was a great site but hard to get close enough for decent shots.

I was surprised to see this Kestrel racing along the beach.

After lunch in the cafe I headed home.An enjoyable trip with very nice weather except for the wind but no rarities and not many decent shots.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A half decent day at Brandon Marsh.

Got up Thursday morning to see it was looking like being a nice day so a bit reluctantly I headed over to Brandon Marsh.I was reluctant because I'd done poorly there on recent visits but I need not have worried because it was quite a decent day with the camera as it turned out.

First I'd like to post an update on the poor looking Manx Shearwater I relocated at Hatton locks on Wednesday afternoon.I'd like to think it was this blog and a couple of texts I sent that had something to do with the fact it was taken into care on Wednesday evening.

Back to the Brandon visit which started well even before I had driven through the main gate because I spotted a Wheatear on the grass to the right just before the gate.I was pleased to get some shots because the ones at Draycote had given me the run around recently.

I then headed for the Steetly hide and found it empty but my luck held and after a couple of Green Sandpipers paid a visit a KF turned up and put on a show for 20 minutes.It did a lot of hovering but I'm blowed I could focus on it so I had to settle on a couple of perched shots.

I then walked the jungle path to the River pool hide which also was empty.Nothing interesting there except a juvenile Reed Warbler showed briefly in the reeds.

Visits to the East Marsh,Teal pool and Carlton hides were a waste of time with nothing about remotely interesting.All these hides were empty.Were people avoiding me ? I did have some fun on the main path between the Carton and EM hides when I had a battle with a couple of Goldcrests trying to get some shots but failing badly.

I then headed for the cafe for a cup of tea and a chat with the pretty waitress.Inside the cafe I met up with Keith Yates and he told me there were upto 3 Wheatears and 2 Whinchats around one of which had been seen not long ago in the scrubland to the north of the coach park.

Dragging myself away from the pretty waitress I thought I'd have a go for the Whinchat particularly as it would be a Warks year tick for me.After half an hour I located it about 75 metres in the middle of the scrubland and the miserable so and so never moved any nearer in the next hour.The best of my shots are so bad that they cannot even be labelled as crappographs.Please don't laugh too loud.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bridge 53.

Bridge 53.That's an intriguing title to this post.Well I hope it is but that's for a bit later.

On Wednesday morning I got up and found I was in superwimp mode.I'd done a bit of tree branch sawing yesterday afternoon and now I'd got back ache and shoulder pains.How pathetic !!! However the sun was shining so I loaded up with Ibruprufen and headed out with the camera to Draycote Water.

On the way I headed to Napton Reservoir to see if the BN Grebe was still there.It was but a long way off so I had to be patient till it came into range of my camera.However when it did the sun was directly behind it so very tricky to get any shots .What a moaner !!! Cracking bird though.

I then went to Draycote Water but by this time the sun had gone in,the clouds had rolled in and of course the wind was blowing strongly so when I met up with Kath I was only too pleased to take her to Napton to see the BN Grebe.We soon found it at the top end and she managed some great shots.

Whilst at Napton the bird text alert went off to tell me the Manx Shearwater unbelievable seen on the canal at Hatton Locks by Bridge 53 was still there so as it was on my way home I shot over there.Parked up at Hatton Locks car park and raced down to Bridge 53 (yes I did race it's downhill).

Got to Bridge 53 no birders and no bird Bugger Bugger !!!!!! As I struggled back up the path I was still in birding mode and a fair way away from Bridge 53 (by lock 38) I spotted this chap on the bank.I immediately noticed we had something in common we were both completely knackered.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Off again to Draycote Water.

I had not planned to go out birding on Friday but when I heard that the forecast for the weekend and into next week was pretty foul I thought I'd better make the effort before the weather closes in.There was only one local patch to go for and that was Draycote Water as this was the only place some decent birds had been showing.

Got there just before 10.00AM and headed down the Farborough bank in pretty dull and windy conditions.I soon got onto a couple of Wheatears but they were not playing ball and I couldn't get near them.Also on the bank itself there were at least a dozen Yellow Wagtails flying around but again couldn't get any shots as they favoured the lower slope well out of the wind.Did get to use the camera when I spotted a Cormorant on the foreshore.

Half way down to the spit there was a mixed flock of waders (Dunlin and Ringed Plovers) that was flying around.Managed a couple of flight shots.

Finally got to the Spit and was surprised to see that I had it to myself.Thinking there must be no birds there I was pleased to spot the Little Stint straight away.Got a few shots no better than the last efforts on Wednesday but this time I got some flight shots.

As I was having a bite of lunch on the wall half way back to the centre I spotted this Greenshank catching a fish.Here are some shots as it does some fishing, catches the fish and flying off before a BH Gull tries to grab it's catch.