Sunday, 23 September 2012

Easterlies produced some good seabirds, but migrants remain sparse

A high pressure, giving way to a low pressure system has brought some nice easterly winds to east Norfolk.

Surface Pressure Chart for 23 Sept 2012

I've been out to the coast over the weekend in the hope to find something that equaled Holme's good haul of migrants (Barred + Yellow-browed Warblers and RBF), but the bushes of east Norfolk remain empty of migrants, bar the occasional Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Seawatching, something I don't tend to do a lot of in east Norfolk, has been pretty good though. There's been a good southerly passage of Gannets all weekend as well as lots of Red-throated Divers moving south. An hours seawatching from Waxham on Saturday evening provided a nice Grey Phalarope, feeding for a while offshore before moving off north. After that I headed down to Nelson Head, making use of the lovely light to snap a few Grey Seals and Sanderling (below).
Finding very little (nothing!) in the Nelson Head area this morning (Sunday) I headed back to Waxham to do a couple hours of seawatching. Although the actual number of birds wasn't great, the variety was. Within 40 minutes of obs., I'd seen 4 species of skua. A couple of Bonxies moved south followed by a lovely sub-adult (second-summer I think) pale phase Pom Skua, which spent a few minutes loafing around close inshore before moving off north. It was an interesting looking bird, with a pretty good dark cap, quite a bit of barring down the flanks and on the chest (forming a strong breast band) and a pale ginger nape. About 10 minutes later a dark juvenile Long-tailed Skua flew south. It was so close inshore that almost missed it, just catching it fly through the bottom of my scope field of view. Long-tailed Skua is one of those birds that when you see a skua sp and wonder "is it, isn't it", then it's almost certainly an Arctic Skua. When you see a Long-tail, there's not really much confusion. And to top everything off, a couple of Arctic Skuas flew north, pursuing some Sandwich Terns.

Grey Seals, Nelson Head, Norfolk

Grey Seals, Nelson Head, Norfolk

Grey Seals, Nelson Head, Norfolk

Sanderling, Nelson Head, Norfolk

Sanderling, Nelson Head, Norfolk

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Short-billed Dowitcher - finally!

I was supposed to be going to see Britain's second ever Short-billed Dowitcher last Saturday night, but my brain was so frazzled after the Genome Informatics 2012 conference that I'd been attending in Cambridge that I decided that I was just going to head home for fish and chips instead of driving overnight, sleeping in the car and fighting the traffic back to Norwich the next day. So, this weekend I drove over from Norwich to Stoke with Matthew on Saturday to watch the (very entertaining) Stoke v Man Ceth game and then set my alarm for 4am to get up to drive down to Lodmoor, Dorset this morning. It was on show almost immediately after I arrived and showed nicely for the half-hour that I was present.
It was nice to meet Vincent Legrand from Belgium, twitching the dowitcher with a bunch of other Western Pal birders from Brussels.

Juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher

Sunday, 2 September 2012

2 Sep 2012 - Finally some migrants...

Headed out to Rush Hills Scrape first thing this morning and then birded Waxham south dunes. Not too much on the scrape - 25 Dunlin plus about 20 Ruff and a few Black-wits, but no too much else.

Although hard work, Waxham turned out to be quite good. A slow moving rain shower pushed quite a lot of hirundines  south (about 200 Barn Swallows and a slightly smaller number of House Martins) plus about 5 Common Swifts. The swifts that I saw well enough were all juveniles and one bird showed well, flying up and down the dunes. I've provided a few photos showing a number of features of juvenile Common Swift.

Other migrants in the dunes were 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Yellow Wagtail (perched on the top of the Hawthorn bushes), 8+ Blackcap, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, plus about 10 Common Whitethroat and 2 Chiffchaff which might have been local birds. Also 5 Yellow Wagtails flew over plus a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A pair of Chinese Water-deer were a nice distraction on the way home.

Juvenile Common Swift - pale faced appearance and frosty underwing coverts.

Juvenile Common Swift - pale upper wing coverts

Juvenile Common Swift - frosty underwing coverts and scaly vent

Juvenile Common Swift - pale throat and forehead

Juvenile Common Swift - pointed tail feathers gives a 'Needle-tail' like appearance when tail fully closed.

Juvenile Common Swift

Juvenile Common Swift

Juvenile Common Swift - pointed tail feathers
Juvenile Yellow Wagtail.

Common Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Reed Warbler - migrant.

Reed Warbler - migrant.
Stag Chinese Water-deer (doe in background).

Doe Chinese Water-deer.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Summer 2012

OK, I know it's a bit of a cop-out, having a 'summer' post. But you have to admit - nothing much happens in summer, so I've decided just to post some nice photos that I took over the summer. With visits mainly to Waxham and Cley with a few days in the Swiss Alps on a family holiday (and unsuccessfully seeing Rock Partridge), summer has been pretty quiet bird-wise.
I've started with some of the interesting stuff that I saw in Switzerland, and then finished with photos from North Norfolk. If you can identify any of the alpine flowers, please let me know. Thanks.

Convulvulus Hawk-moth, Ilanz, Switzerland.

Nutcraker, Vals, Switzerland.

Alpine flowers 1

Alpine Flowers 2
Alpine Flowers 3


Alpine Marmot

Alpine Chough, Eagles's Nest, Berchtesgaden, Germany

Female Shoveler, Cley

Female Shoveler, Cley

Friendly-neighbourhood Avocet, Cley.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier, Cley.

Red Deer, Hickling.

Skylark, Weybourne.

Marsh Harrier food-pass, Cley.

Male Tufted Duck, Cley.

Woodpigeion, Cley.