Thursday, October 30, 2014

Surfin' UK

Went birding this morning with pretty high expectations - winds swinged to easterlies yesterday and there was some rain at night. I met up with Quentin and we left Norwich early. Arrived at Warham Green right on time. Lots of thrushes just as we get out of the car - feels good! We birded there for some time but in fact apart for many thrushes and finches there was not much else. Some birds of interest included 2 shy Ring Ouzels and a Merlin. Redwing, Blackbird and Song Thrush still dominant but numbers of Fieldfare are on the rise.
We then continued to Wells Woods, expecting to find lots of thrushes there too but it was very quiet there. Another Ring Ouzel and a Woodcock at the Dell were the only birds worth noting. We encountered some nice mixed flocks but there was nothing mixed in with them apart for the usual suspects. Walking back we started seeing large flocks of thrushes coming in from sea - very impressive. This continued for a couple of hours - many hundreds of thrushes, and also hundreds of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits etc.

Long-tailed Tit

Goldcrest

Our next stop was Holkham. Lots of Pink-footed Geese in the fields:



We walked down to the beach and very quickly found the Surf Scoter - super quality bird! It was hanging around with some Velvet Scoters. Nice to see all three species together. Too far to photograph properly but very good scope views (WP tick for me!). 

Surf Scoter - male

Not too much at sea otherwise - some Red-throated Divers, Guillemots, Razorbills etc. Thrushes and other passerines continued to pour in from sea, but the weather was too good so they probably pushed on inland.
Our last stop was back at Stiffkey Campsite. I walked west to check the hedges, and Quentin walked east to check the woods. It was very quiet. But Quentin scored better than me - he found a Yellow-browed Warbler just east of the woods. Nice.
Thanks to Quentin for a nice day!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Waxham

Went ringing this morning with the UEA ringing group at Waxham on the E coast. Weather was not promising so expectations were low, and indeed there were very few migrants around and up in the air. I really liked the site though, it has a good potential - looking forward to return there on a good day. We ringed mainly Meadow Pipits but also some Goldcrests and other common birds.

Goldcrest

Because of the slow catch I had time to walk around a bit. Few migrants around - some Redwings, Bramblings, Lesser Redpolls, and one flyover Lapland Bunting was nice. Some pinkfeet and cranes in nearby fields. The Grey Seal colony on the beach is impressive:


Thanks to Iain, Claire and Tony for an enjoyable morning.

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

Redwing

Brambling

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

Redstart

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. 

Redwing

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

FF

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