Monday, 24 March 2014

Redwing's out, Wheatear's in

From mid February until about a week ago life went on hold as we cared for our two little boys who too it in turn to be ill with Chicken Pox and a nice range of other bugs. Fortunately other than both having colds both are well again and so I am able to update this blog with details of the few birds I've stumbled across since early March.
Boats in the Spring sunshine at low tide, Burnham Overy Staithe

Work took me out to Great Missenden on the edge of the Chilterns and just beyond the reach of the Metropolitan line.  Walking to Marylebone station to get the overland train I picked out a pair of Mandarin Duck in flight over a garden square. Out of the train window I saw three Red Kites and there were often Kites and Common Buzzards over the conference centre and a pair of Grey Wagtails feeding on the lawn.

Sunday the 16th was a quiet family Sunday with a visit to Grand dads in Brancaster, standing outside in the garden there was a light passage of Redwing's heading west and that evening I heard more Redwing's calling over Hunstanton.

On Monday 17th I was I Minsmere for a meeting and managed a very short walk on the reserve after the meeting during which I heard my first Cetti's Warblers and Chiff Chaffs for the year and watched a couple of Marsh Harriers quarter the reedbed from Bittern Hide.

A lunchtime walk in Ken Hill Wood on Friday 21st was enlivened by all five resident Tit species [Marsh, Great, Coal, Blue and Long Tailed] and I picked up on call and then saw a pair of Bullfinches, rather embarrassingly these were a year tick.

On Saturday 22nd I found a nice flock of Redwings up by Choesley drying barns and a male Wheatear in a ploughed field at Courtyard Farm.  I took the time on this day to check through flocks of Turnstones at Hunstanton and Brancaster Staithe and couldn't find any colour ringed birds which suggest that the flocks of Turnstones I was seeing earlier in the winter have moved on taking the marked birds with them. 

Yesterday the 23rd I managed ten minutes in Brancaster Staithe Harbour photographing Black Tailed Godwits in poor light but it was so good to see some of these moulting into their lovely red breeding plumage it was worth the effort.
Black Tailed Godwit, Brancaster Staithe

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Firecrest and other stuff on the move

In some small way its felt has if my birding mojo has started to return this past fortnight. Having spent the winter not seeing very much at all I've managed to find a couple of OK birds and had a general sense that some movement was happening and in my own small way I was connecting with it.

A Shag at sunset
Tuesday 18th saw me back under the cliffs in Hunstanton this time with a DSLR and a big lens but unfortunately I couldn''t find the previous evenings Peregrine, I did though again manage to see four Shags. Earlier that day a family walk in Ken Hill Woods turned up three Marsh Tits my first of the year there.

On the 21st I found a flock of 50 - 100 Fieldfare at Courtyard Farm and a couple of days later a similar sized flock feeding in another roadside field. Whilst a train journey south across the Fens from King's Lynn on the 24th was notable for the flocks of Redwings, Fieldfares and Starlings in the fields and maybe the last wild swans I'll see on this journey this winter, what I took for a herd of Whoopers.


A drive on the 22nd to get our two year boy to sleep was enlivened by a flock of around 30 Bramblings in the fields and hedgerows between Choseley drying barns and Choseley hamlet. Earlier that morning a family walk along the boardwalk on the edge of the marshes at Brancaster had turned up my first butterfly of the year a Small Tortoiseshell in a marsh side garden sitting on a snowdrop.

The 26th saw me taking a lunchtime walk around Ken Hill Wood and although pleasant was pretty uneventful bird wise until I came to leave the wood in Common Road, I noticed a Long Tailed Tit that seemed to be accompanied by a Chiff Chaff. Raising my binoculars I quickly realised it wasn't a Chiff Chaff but a Crest and for a moment I was non-plussed by the socking great white supercilium on the bird and the realisation that I had lucked into a Firecrest. I spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to get a picture with my little compact Panasonic Lumix TZ30. The picture below is heavily cropped and was the best of the bunch taken at 3200 ISO. 

Ken Hill Firecrest

Ken Hill continued to produce the goods with three flyover Crossbills on the 28th and nice views of a Siskin on the 29th a species which has been thin on the ground there this winter.