Sunday, 31 July 2016

31st July 2016

Travelled home today, and had 1 Red Kite over the A505 near Baldock, Herefordshire and another 2 together over the A303 near Winterbourne Stoke, Wiltshire.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

30th July 2016 (Norfolk)

No proper birding today but went to have lunch with family near Heacham. On the drive over, I saw a bird of prey cross the road up ahead. Had a look when we got closer and was stunned to see a gorgeous female Montagu's Harrier flying alongside the car! My grandad was driving and there was nowhere to stop, but still great to see one so close, even if it was only for a few seconds.

Also of interest today was this pheasant near Heacham, presumably a lady amherst x golden hybrid. It was very tame and I believe a collection nearby does keep both these species. Still a very attractive bird nonetheless.

lady amherst x golden pheasant - Heacham

Friday, 29 July 2016

29th July 2016 (Norfolk)

Had a look at Weeting Heath late morning today. Got to the hide and, thankfully, after only 15 minutes we picked up 2 Stone-Curlews fairly close to the hide. Also of note were singles of Willow Tit, Hobby, Green Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher and Mistle Thrush.

Stone-Curlews - Weeting Heath

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

26th July 2016 (Norfolk)

After Norwich today, decided to have a look at Hickling Broad in hope that the caspian tern might reappear. Checked my phone just after arriving and saw that it had! After a short walk and a brief scan, I was watching the CASPIAN TERN. That makes up for missing the two in Avon earlier this year (this may well be one of the same birds). Also of note on the scrape were lots of Ruff, 2 each of Little Gulls and Greenshank and singles of Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Med Gull , Sedge Warbler, Marsh Harrier and Chinese Water Deer.

 CASPIAN TERN - Hickling Broad
Last shot shows a size comparison with Common Tern

Spoonbill - Hickling Broad

Little Gull - Hickling Broad

 Wood Sandpiper - Hickling Broad 

 Chinese Water Deer - Hickling Broad

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

I cocked it up!

Well, this is embarrassing!

Was looking out of the front window this morning and spotted an odd-looking swift. Grabbed the bins and saw it had a white rump!

Common Swift - Tittleshall

After further views, I summised the following breif description for the rba:

"Bird showed neat white rump and large white throat patch and slightly more brown colouration. However, the white on the rump did slightly extend around the side of the bird and the jizz was not particularly striking."

I knew that this bird didn't perfectly fit the description for any rare species, and was aware that it could be an aberrant common swift but I've never seen pictures of common swift with such a perfectly-formed rump patch. 

I had to go to Norwich this morning so I wasn't able to watch the bird for long. I have no prior experience of any of the rare swift species and have no birding contacts in Nofolk, but I didn't want to dismiss a potential mega. With time running out, l decided to report it as a possible Pacific Swift and let others get a look at it.

Well, before too long news came out that it was indeed a common swift. I must say that I was shocked at just how much white it had on the back (though I believe motion blur has exaggerated this in some shots) as I completely missed this in the field. Looking back at the record shots I took, the only shot I got of the top of the bird had the white back markings hidden behind the dark wing, with only a small amount of white visable on the nape.

Well, if nothing else this bird has certainly been an education! I've seen pictures of aberrant swifts before but had no idea that common swift could show such perfectly-defined markings like this bird's rump. Certainly a lesson to be far more cautious with swift ID in the future.

Lastly, I must thank everyone who took interest in this bird and those who clinched the ID as Common.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

24th July 2016 (Norfolk and Lincolnshire)

Had an incredible morning birding today:

 Headed for Snettisham first and had a Grey Partridge from the car window near Hillington. Arriving at Snettisham, we got to the Rotary Hide to find out that the caspian tern had not been seen. Headed to the hide at the bottom and found a large flock of Dunlin so we started to scan through for the white-rumped sand. No sign, but a good selection of other waders were present including 4 Curlew Sandpipers. After 2 Hours, a several flocks of Dunlin flew down in front of the hide, and I soon locatated the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. Shortly after though, the whole flock flew up but thankfully another birder in the hide managed to follow it until it landed back in front of us, allowing everyone to get  great views and allowing me to get a picture! Other highlights from here included singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Little Stint, 2 Med Gulls and an unseasonal Brent Goose.


Curlew Sandpiper - Snettisham

Little Stint - Snettisham

Egyptian Goose - Snettisham

A rather unseasonal Brent Goose - Snettisham

As we were returning to the car, I saw the report of a broad-billed sand at Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire. After racing over, we got to the hide to be told the bird was not currently showing. In the meantime, we had the Pectoral Sandpiper, my first since 2013, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, another Curlew Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail. After a few minutes, the call went up and after a bit of confusion I was watching the BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER! Great to catch up with this species after missing the Newport Bird earlier this year.


Pectoral Sandpiper - Frampton Marsh

Little Ringed Plover - Frampton Marsh

A breif look at North Scrape, Cley produced singles of Spoonbill and Little Ringed Plover and 2 Wood Sandpipers.

Spoonbill - Cley Marshes

Wood Sandpiper - Cley Marshes

A brilliant day with a couple of unexpected extras!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

23rd July 2016 (Hampshire)

Drove up to Norfolk today to visit relatives. I didn't do the driving through the M3/M25 area so I kept an eye open for red kites. The first bird of prey I saw was on the M3 near Basingstoke (Hampshire), and it obviously wasn't a common buzzard. It soared on long flat wings like a gull so from the first head-on impression I assumed it was a kite, as I ussually see several when I travel through here. However, when it turned and I saw the underside, I immediatly knew it was a Honey Buzzard! This is the first HB I've seen for at least a couple years but always exciting to find one! Oddly, I never did see a red kite on the journey.

Some pretty messy field sketches.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

21st July 2016

A morning visit to Arne proved to be worthwhile as the roosting Nightjar was showing when I arrived and stayed on view for 2 hours while I was there, in which time it preened and churred twice. A singing male Firecrest was also a nice bonus (not even going to bother uploading my record shot of it!) as well as singles of Green Woodpecker and Peregrine.

Nightjar - Arne

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

20th July 2016

A look at SBR this evening produced the subadult Yellow-Legged Gull that was found earlier in the afternoon. The only other species of note were 3 Little Egrets.

Yellow-Legged Gull - Sutton Bingham Res

Sunday, 17 July 2016

17th July 2016

Headed down to Ham Wall this morning. On my way to the location of the little bittern, I checked the area of water by the Avalon hide for the ibises with no luck, I only had 5 Great White Egrets, a Bittern and 3 Green Sandpipers.

This turned out to be a bad idea as I missed the little bittern by just a few minutes! What followed was a 2 and a half hour wait, in which time the little bittern barked almost consantly. Whilst waiting, we located singles of Great White Egret, Bittern and Cuckoo. Eventually, we got a flight view of the male LITTLE BITTERN, but I was not quick enough with the camara, which was a bit of a shame after I failed to get any record shots of the last one I saw here back in 2013.

Great White Egret - Ham Wall

  Bittern - Ham Wall

Returning to the lower path by VP2 finally produced one of the rather elusive Glossy Ibis.

Glossy Ibis - Ham Wall

A look round the rest of Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath produced a further 3 Great White Egrets, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 each of Jay, Mediterranean Gull, and Common Tern and singles of Hobby and Marsh Harrier.

Grey Heron - Ham Wall

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

13th July 2016

A trip to SBR around midday turned out to be a good decision. Looking out from the causeway we located a distant Sandwich Tern, the first I've seen at this site. Also present were 2 Great Black-Backed Gulls and a Little Egret. Walking down the southern arm produced a juv Peregrine and another Little Egret, and a Common Sandpiper was viewable from the car park. Returning to the causeway, the Sandwich Tern was not present but quickly reappeared. While we were watching it, I picked up a Black-Tailed Godwit as it flew overhead, another first for me at this site.

Sandwich Tern - Sutton Bingham Res

Monday, 11 July 2016

11th July 2016

Headed up to Ham Wall early morning today to look for the COLLARED PRATINCOLE but had no luck. As soon as I arrived back home, I got news through that it was showing again! I couldn't get back there until the evening but luckily it roosted by the 2nd Viewing Platform again tonight, and I had some decent views. Also of note today were 6 Great White Egrets, 2 Cuckoos, 2 Green Sandpipers and singles of Green Woodpecker, Redshank and Marsh Harrier.


Great White Egret - Ham Wall

Sunday, 10 July 2016

10th July 2016

Headed down to Salisbury Plain this morning. I was hoping for monty's harrier, stone-curlew or quail, but a 5 hour search produced only 4 Great Bustards from the release project, 6+ Corn Buntings and a Little Owl roosting in a large shed.

Released Great Bustards - Salisbury Plain

Little Owl - Salisbury Plain

Red-Legged Partridges - Salisbury Plain

 Linnet - Salisbury Plain

Mistle Thrush - Salisbury Plain

Also of note were singles of Hobby and Green Woodpecker from the car window in North Yeovil today.