Sunday, 29 January 2017

Pine Bunting - Murston, Kent

Tick number 4 of 2017 came in the form of a Pine Bunting.......

So when is a Sat Nav of no use on a twitch? Well, as it turns out today. Apparently a Sat Nav needs its owner (that would be me on this occasion) to put the correct post code in. Apparently if the said owner does not put the correct post code in you can find yourself about 25 minutes in the wrong direction (assuming the postal codes entered and what should have been entered were the one I USED.

OK, so that should be it shouldn't it where these little gadgets are concerned. NOT SO. Now if your passenger then provides a new postal code surely this one then takes you where you ideally wanted to go? Of course not. Yes we were closer but we still didn't have a cigar. We were down a dead end in the middle of an industrial estate.

Finally, we hit gold with the correct one and ended up on site. A brief walk from the car and we were on the sea wall looking back towards the small pond with the shooting hides nearby.

The Pine Bunting had not been seen for over 6 hours - - - 6 Hours, OH HELL, just what you want to hear; not another dip surely? Within thirty seconds of setting my scope up with water still in my eyes, i had it sitting on the fence wire right in front of the brambles it was frequenting. Oh hold on that's a Reed Bunting.....erherm, lets move on.

Yellowhammer x2, Greenfinch x4, more Reed Buntings and Dunnocks frequented the area. Then sitting on top for about two minutes one Pine Bunting. TICK TICK BOOM.

It was gone, was that all we were to get? NO, it then appeared up top of the same bramble twice more and although scope views  - they were all good. 

It had a head i assure you
Time to get the camera out, a couple of Turnstone were patrolling the sea wall behind us. Its getting easier but still not got anything yet i was hoping for with it. I know its me and not the camera - i'm not blaming my tools.

We decided as time was getting on to chance our arm at the Harty Ferry Lane raptor view point. Marsh Harrier's, Buzzard's,  a single Ring Tailed Hen Harrier and to finish the day a year-ticking Pheasant

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Waxwing - Rainham RSPB

The first outing with the new camera and #OMG i have so much to learn...... the best of a quite shocking bunch.........

The day started over the Valley looking for that dam Shrike again, another hour/half. Other locals were there as well but between us nothing.

After a couple of trips running the kids around a Scaup was reported on our local group and this followed shortly after from a call from Dave Mo. I headed over to find Dave McG, Steve Smith already there. Hawky rocked up shortly after sporting what looked like start of a Goatie. There's plenty of time for having a go at that if it continues...... :)

Moving on to Rainham RSPB for the car park Waxwing which showed very well. As such i had my first attempt with the new camera. Crofty telling me my ISO was to low, Dick telling me i need to add just under a 1/3rd....... the result was disappointing but this was further away than the Rayleigh ones and although not great is a better clarity than with the bridge......on wards and upwards...

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dunge & Camber

A quip trip yesterday afternoon to Dunge followed by Camber turned out to be a surprisingly good two and a half hours (excluding travelling).

We initially headed to the quarry in search of the Stejnegers (After DNA now a Common) Stonechat . It turns out that its favoured area was the size of Wales. An then sometimes it liked a trip over the border (road). There was only the two of us there after the two guys we initially met had lost the will to live and had decided to go see some birds.

Looking one way for the Chat - Monkeys over there at the back
After tramping the area for 45/50 minutes we realised that apart from birds flying over we had managed to hear/see/flush precisely one Magie & Crow. Nothing, the place was void of all life it seemed. It was so life lifeless it felt like i was on the patch :) Actually that's not true we had a Great Grey Shrike the other day, not that i saw it. A great find by Mr McGough.

Looking another way

So we headed to the hide at Arc to look for the Ring Necked Duck. This was nice and easy. It was floating about in front of the hide although head down. It had been like this for some hours we were told. Regardless that was a Life Tick - Boom.

Courtesy of Russ who went a couple of days later

Other birds of note from the hide consisted of a Great White Egret, Redhead Smew, 3x Goldeneye.

Weirdly at the birders drink the night before i had been talking with a couple of guys and the LEO was back near the visitors centre so we headed there and sure enough sitting exactly where it should have been was one LEO.

Back to the main road with a quick stop for 11x Tree Sparrow.

Running out of time we headed to Camber for the Red Necked Grebe. We zipped past Scotney and the Black Necked Grebe which was still being reported. Sure enough the RN Grebe  was showing with superb scope views.

Again from Russ on his visit
Another Life Tick - Boom.

We then headed home.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Waxwings - Rayleigh Weir

As per the previous post i was at Bowers Marsh when i heard news of a few Waxwing at Rayleigh Weir McDonalds.

I had also heard of 300 birders all getting their 2017 year ticks in. I went none the less and was surprised to see about 20 people standing there roadside. No birds though.

Apparently they were quite mobile but seemed to come back to the same three berry laden trees every 15-20 minutes. Sure enough they arrived on time and had their fill only to take flight this time to a large tree opposite the new car dealer ship.

10 Minutes and they were back in the car park one again, quick grab of berries and off. I can only presume it was due to the close proximity of the people getting food and the numbers of people about.

I managed a few shots... 5 birds in total

Bowers Marsh

It was that time of year again when i take the rest of the family to Basildon to meet a group of friends so they can all go to the panto as such it mean i get my yearly trip to Bowers. I could go to other places but i like Bowers, very few people around.

As such by 11.30am i was standing in the car park freezing, a few cars but nobody to be seen. A quick shot of coffee and i headed to the path leading past the main barns. It was immediately evident that there were a lot of Redwing & Fieldfare around. All trees seemed to hold one or the other.

I arrived at the first gate and viewed the fields. Geese, Wigeon and Lapwing. Then amongst the Greylag 15ish White Fronts plus what looked like a Pink Footed Goose. Now for some reason i started thinking Tundra Bean Goose. I hadn't seen it in flight, it was a long way off and i couldn't see any leg colour plus i haven't seen either Bean yet so have no experience with them but something got me pondering. I would be better viewing it from the benches.

As i wandered over i bumped into another birder....." Hello mate, Bewick Swan from the benches plus a Pink Foot" We chatted for a bit and it turns out one of the SOG lot saw it fly in.

At the benches it was a lot closer and my hopes of a Tundra Bean were dashed. The single Bewick's Swan floated about; head up but not doing much.

I moved on to East Haven;

The sun was in an awful spot for viewing here but as long as i kept far left and far right i was ok: Knot, Dunlin, BlackWit, Green Sand, Redshank plus numerous Gulls. I had a shift through them but couldn't find anything other than the usual suspects.

The other thing the guy mentioned was a few Waxwing at Rayleigh Weir McDonalds. So i decided to head there. According to the news he had received some 300 birders were there getting there 2017 year ticks in.

Once i got back from Rayleigh i headed to the benches in search of Water Pipit. Apparently two had been seen there that morning before i had arrived (another bit of news, this time from a guy at McDonalds).

To my supprise as i was about 100 yeards from them i heard Bewicks, i looked up to see 8 Bewick Swan fly over my head land some way in front. Sure enough they were there and keeping them selves separate from the single bird.

Time was up, a few hours birding and it was time to pick the family up......

Yellow Browed Warbler


This warbler has avoided me on all occasions that I've been in close proximity, Wells, Holkham, Titchwell on numerous occasion over the last few years. I've not twitched one until New Years Day i've refused to knowing i would see loads when i finally get my butt to Shetland one October.

Now the bird at Wanstead clearly wanted me to pay it a visist, its been there for a couple of weeks and each day news filters through from Messrs, Croft, Lethbridge and if it's Saturday Brown that in the South West corner of Alexandra Lake its still calling my name.

I dread going to Wanstead, purely because of the drive 45 minutes roughly, traffic, traffic and more traffic.

News Years Day and i was off to Rainham but then i noticed how little traffic was about, oh hell Wanstead it was. 11 minutes. Ridiculous. Every traffic light was green, the A12/406 round about was clear. Parking was a doddle......The bird on the other hand had decided that as i hadn't been over to see it earlier it would play hard to get.

An hour and a half with skies starting to get blacker and blacker i was going to have to leave. A few more minutes, then suddenly without a call i caught movement. There to my delight was the Yellow Browed Warbler. I tried to get the guy who had joined me onto but it didn't happen. It had gone away from the lake side Willows and headed into the island.

We both carried on looking, the rain started, we carried on, it got heavier then the flood gates opened... Sorry my friend i'm off - good luck....

Sunday, 1 January 2017

So this is how it feels....

On Friday (30th) me and Monkey decided to head to Stow on the Wold for the Blue Rock Thrush that has been showing considerably well from roof top to roof top in and around Fishers Close.

We left a little later and yep you guessed it after a stop for a Mc'ds breckie we arrived about 8.30am.

I would say about 100-150 people in the area but by this time there was no sign; it was -2 degrees and although the surrounding areas were thick with fog Stow was clear and had clear skies as well.

At Fishers Close we caught the arse end of a Waxwing after it was picked up on call going over head but couldn't see anything on it as it silhouetted out of view.

We stood in Fishers Close for about an hour during which a lady living in the close came out of her house advising she had not seen it that morning and then asked for a donation to the local care home which we gladly did.

Eventually we took a wander down some surrounding streets but still nothing.

Had it gone? Was it just being sensible and keeping snug?

Coffee time so we headed in to town and found a delightful cafe called Hacketts; being the only ones in here we chatted with the owner who herself seemed to have an interest in birds. She loved Redwings and who can blame her.

Back onto the housing estate where people were now dispersing, Fishers Close was now empty bar one nutter in shorts.

We decided to think for ourselves and this is possibly where we went wrong :) We took to the streets and made a circle of the larger area within the estate, still nothing. So by 11am we called it as we both had tings to do. It was my mums Birthday and he was doing the Chef bit for friends that evening.

Then about 1 hour into the trip home the news we didn't want to hear came in and its showed well and daily since. Surely that's worse than dipping and it not being seen again!

Now i spend a fair bit of time these days in Oxford so who knows could i get there mid week?

So its an escapee if i don't get back, and a mega tick if it does and i have been back..........

This is a first (dip) in my small amount of twitching, yes i missed the Little Bustard the other year but i did come home with another mega that day - Blyths Pipit so it didn't feel like i'd missed out.....

Its only a bird so go to laugh..........