Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Radde's Madz

Had a super day birding with James Lowen along the N Norfolk Coast. After yesterday's terrible weather, there was a nice fall on the coast and some good birds were found yesterday afternoon. James picked me up early and we left Norwich before dawn with high expectations, that were boosted by lots of calling Redwings and Song Thrushes over the city.
Our first port of call was Warham Green, where yesterday's bluetail wasn't relocated. We birded the hedgerows for a couple of hours. Big numbers of migrants around - not a huge fall but very good numbers of Goldcrest, Robin, Blue Tit, and many many thrushes, especially Redwings. Some large flocks of pinkfeet flew out of the saltmarsh as we arrived, there were many Bramblings mixed with all the finches around, Woodcock, and we had 2-3 Red Kites flying around. Good, solid birding, but we were really keen to find something good ourselves (like a Radde's Warbler...). At first nothing. Then I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler. Then we saw another. Then I had brief views of a Little Bunting perched on top of a bush with some Reed Buntings. It ducked down and out of view. We searched for it and saw or heard nothing, so I was getting worried that I hallucinated, but luckily later on it was seen by others. Pheew. 

Pink-footed Geese



Reed Bunting (not little)

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Another nice one was a Ring Ouzel, about halfway between Warham and Stiffkey Campsite. We birded in that direction to see a / the Red-flanked Bluetail that was found at the eastern side of the wood. We had lousy views of it, poor bird, there were far too many twitchers walking around its patch and making so much noise - the bird was high in the canopy of the Sycamores there, and wouldn't come down to where it wanted to be. Also here was a Yellow-browed.

Ring Ouzel - best shot ever


After we had enough of the shameful twitch that evolved there, we continued on to Wells Woods. We parked the car and while having a coffee by the car two Yellow-brows were calling around the carpark, and this 2cy Med Gull hawked for insects above us:

We searched for the Radde's that was found there earlier on (not by us!), nevertheless it was good to see it - a welcome WP tick for me.

Radde's Warbler 

Again, I was really disappointed by how some twitchers behaved. Some idiots really paid no respect towards other birders on site, or towards the bird. Again, it was badly harassed and was clearly stressed. 
We birded the area for a couple more hours, and found nothing too special. Also here there were big numbers of migrants, especially thrushes. But what was really incredible was the Yellow-browed warblers - we had at least 6 or 7 there, casually flying around. Very cool. 


Mistle Thrush

We ended the day at Holkham Pines, that failed to produce anything more exciting than a couple more Yellow-browed Warblers, bringing our daily total to over 10! Not bad.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Flatford Mill

We are settling down fine in Norwich. I started my PhD course at UEA, the kids go to school, I have a car now, and life is reaching a steady-state. Still not enough time for birding but hope to improve that soon.
This week I went on a three-day training course as part of my Doctoral Training Program run by EnvEast. We were lucky to stay at Flatford Mill Field Centre, that is famed as the site where John Constable painted his famous painting The Hay Wain

I stayed overnight in the amazing 650-years-old Barn House:

I was busy there with lectures etc. but got to see some birds walking around. Despite being so close to the coast there were almost no migrants around. Only on the morning of the 10th I had some movement - 1 Redwing and 2 Siskins, and quite many Meadow Pipits and other common stuff.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Birding at last!

Wow, this was a long break. But today I finally managed to get myself out of Norwich, courtesy of Jake and Drew. We left early and headed first to Sheringham for a couple of hours of seawatching. **Lesson 1 in UK birding - if the weather is good (like it was today), lower your expectations.** 
No wind resulted in, well, alright birding. Some movement of Red-throated Divers, Common Scoters, Guillemots, one Scaup, one Shag and a few other bits and pieces. Some divers swam rather close in:

Red-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver and Shag

Then we moved on to Cromer. By the pier the long-staying Caspian Gull showed too well at times. It was associating with a Yellow-legged Gull, and most of the time they were both perched on top of Hotel de Paris. Caspian Gull looks a bit different here compared to the more Asian birds that reach Israel. Slightly more black on the wingtip (tiny black dot on P4) and bill shape not quite the same - a bit heavier. Note that now it's growing P8 to P10 so when it finishes growing them in a couple of weeks the wingtip will have even more white.

Caspian Gull

Yellow-legged Gull 

What a brute


We spent the rest of the day at Stiffkey, which was really nice even though we didn't have anything special. Lots of birds both on the scrapes and on the mudflats.
**Lesson number 2: always carry a good rifle when birding to shoot down dog walkers.**
Some highlights included 3 Curlew Sands, 2 Green Sands, 4 Rock Pipits, Peregrine, 14 Spoonbills, 1 continental White Wagtail, 2 Whinchats. Not too shabby.

Rock Pipits

Thanks to Jake and Drew for the ride and company - it was a good day indeed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome to the 21st Century

Apologies to all my followers and readers for this long absence. Finally we moved to the UK almost three weeks ago. It took me almost three weeks to get connected at home. Incredible. The first week without internet was quite fun in fact, but then it started getting complicated - almost impossible to survive without internet these days.
Anyway, the move was quite OK. Norwich is a lovely city and we enjoy life here very much. The first couple of weeks were hectic with the new house and with our sons beginning school (without speaking English). But they are advancing very fast - really impressive how quickly they adjust.
I don't have a car yet so haven't been able to do any proper birding yet, which is quite frustrating with all the RBA tweets I get every five minutes. Working on my garden list - latest additions included a hooting Tawny Owl from my neighbour's garden, and some flyover migrants. 
Spent a day on the coast with the family near Sheringham. Impossible to bird properly but between icecream and Fish & Chips glimpsed some Gannets, gulls etc. offshore. Amusing to see Turnstones feeding on bread with pigeons.

Went to Whitlingham one afternoon with my boys - nothing special there but the kids really enjoyed it:

Enjoying autumn colours in Norwich

Monday, September 1, 2014

Goodbye Israel

Today was my last full day in Israel before leaving to the UK tomorrow. Left early and went for a sentimental farewell birding session at Ashdod. Short seawatch was quite unproductive - only some Garganey migrating over the sea and some gulls, so I moved on to the ponds, that were pretty birdy. Good autumn variety in the scrub around the ponds. Lots of shrikes of four species (Red-backed, Woodchat, Masked and Lesser Grey):

Lesser Grey Shrike

Red-backed Shrikes 

My 500 mm lens is waiting for me in the UK, so I am shooting with my old 400 mm, feels so 80's. I miss my 500 baby.
Big numbers of shorebirds (mainly Ringed Plovers and Little Stints) but low diversity. Only birds worth noting were two Temminck's Stints.
Many Yellow Wags and Willow Warblers in the grass-covered ponds. A couple of Citrine Wagtails were nice, and some Marsh Warblers too.

Citrine Wagtail, 1cy female - too close - 3.6 m.

Flused by Common Snipe 

Black-headed Yellow Wagtail, 1cy female

Only two Yellow-legged Gulls present. This bird is quite unfortunate:

Goodbye my ponds

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Almost there but still here

Last days in Israel (I hope) - our passports are allegedly on their way to us, and if everything works well we are flying out on Tuesday. In the meanwhile we are meeting lots of friends and family, and having very intensive days. Yesterday morning I went to say goodbye to Yosef. He was ringing at Tsor'a so I joined him with my two sons. We had a great time, enjoyed big numbers of migrants, and warm hospitality. When I lived near Tsor'a and my sons were younger I used to take them almost every week during migration to ring with Yosef - and it was nice to revisit the site and Yosef who hadn't seen my sons for several years was amazed how much they have grown.
And now the birds - no amazing highlights but a nice variety:

Great Reed Warbler - 2cy+

 Savi's Warbler - 1cy

 Sedge Warbler - 1cy

Kingfisher - 1cy female

Lots of Rollers going through